Knowing when and how to make the right financial decisions is not easy, especially when it comes to investing. Dealing with money is hard. Heck, dealing with life is hard. It is rare that making a big decision of any kind comes easily, which is why I wanted to share some simple but powerful investment lessons to help make at least one area of your life a little easier to navigate. No matter how organized or successful we may be in one area of our lives, there’s always another that tests us, or makes us question our actions or motivations. As a financial advisor I feel I can pretty comfortably say I have the money choices part down, but I still struggle with the life choices side of the equation. And accept that I always will. It’s what makes us human.
Make Peace with the Trade-Offs
Several months ago, I was on a plane and feeling conflicted. I was traveling to Manhattan to attend what I was sure would be an amazing women’s investment and empowerment conference. I was excited and filled with anticipation. However, it meant I needed to leave on a Sunday and that meant missing the last football game of the season for my son.
Missing his game brought up all kinds of guilty feelings and made me question my choices. What role is the most important for me today? Will this be worth the sacrifice? I was texting a close friend from the plane about my inner turmoil. She pointed out that these feelings can be what makes being a mom so awesome.It was a good reminder that I am needed and that I have so many important roles.
While I sat there waiting to take off, I reminded myself to be grateful and to remember that my family is always the most important thing to me no matter what. But maybe for today, Dad can handle things and that is totally okay, too.
Working on my mindset around this has taken years of effort and is still an on-going battle. And it wasn’t easy to hear about my son’s only touchdown of the season after the fact. But making peace with trade-offs is a way of life for moms everywhere.
Powerful Investment (and Life) Lessons
So, getting back to the women’s investment and empowerment conference, I’d love to share a few of my reflections, notes, observations, musings and take-aways from one of the speakers and panelists.
I’ll do this in a series of blog posts, this one will be the first. Bear with me as I have a serious girl crush on several of these amazing ladies. I loved so many different aspects about these women: their hearts, minds and souls. But let me start with one of my favorites – Mary Callahan Erdoes.
Erdoes, who is widely considered a potential successor to JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon, has led the company’s asset and wealth management business for over a decade. Consistently ranked as one of Forbes top “power women”, she oversees literally trillions in assets for clients worldwide.
Me with Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan
There were five major themes she talked about that are relevant for those trying to navigate the challenges and complexity of the financial services world (Hint: we all are). Let me share these lessons and give you a few thoughts of my own. Keep in mind, my goal is to do the heavy lifting on this for my clients:
#1: “Don’t be the biggest – be the best”
I have learned this lesson over and over in my career, and now as a personal financial advisor with my own small firm I am learning it yet again. I would rather be the best (and be small) than be the biggest.
Small is personal. Big is cumbersome. Big is obligated to adopt unfriendly, unreasonable policies to protect itself from itself. Small is nimble, generous and human. Small understands you and your problems. In other words, small can be beautiful!
I am part of a small, (powerful and growing) collective of women advisors called Equita that shares tools, technology and best practices. This helps to ensure that my clients benefit from my access to a consortium of like-minded small firms with common values.
#2: “My hardest job is keeping people invested”
As a professional investor and advisor, this resonated with me. It is so important to have a set of investment principles to guide you when things get rocky. Irrational behavior and emotional responses, if left unchecked, can undermine the success of the best laid plans.
Taking human error and emotion out of the equation whenever possible while maintaining reasonable return expectations and planning appropriately is the path to success. I’ve also learned it’s always better to be pleasantly surprised than devastatingly disappointed. “Hope” is not an investment strategy. Knowing what you own, why you own it and where it fits in your portfolio IS an investment strategy.
#3: “Asset allocation is the most important thing I do”
I have one overarching philosophy when it comes to asset allocation: Prepare instead of repair. I was thrilled to learn one of the smartest women in the investment management world agrees with this approach.
When I started my firm, I knew it would be important to utilize portfolios that are logical, understandable and that investors feel confident sticking to for the long-term. Diversification and disciplined re-balancing are strategies I use to combat knee-jerk reactions or panic in the face of crisis.
#4: “I help people make sense of the nonsense”
This one is so hard. We have information bombarding us every day. We have tiny computers on our wrists and in our pockets. But so much of what we get is noise. The financial services and investment community has an especially acute problem with this. What is a basis point? What is an income replacement ratio? Why did the Fed raise interest rates? Why do I even need to care?
Just because you don’t need or want to know what a “yield curve inversion” means, doesn’t mean you can’t be wildly successful in your path to financial freedom. Financial markets and investment strategies are my zone of genius and, by leveraging my expertise, you can embrace the freedom to create a life in yours.
#5: “My job is to make you smarter”
If you lose your family, your friends and your life because of your “successful” career or business, what is the money even for? I am a passionate advocate of the “holistic” approach to financial planning and investing because there is nothing better for me than empowering clients to bring financial discipline and financial wellness into their lives.
Some people need a teacher, some need a coach, some need a cheerleader. My joy comes from being an accountability partner focused on helping clients make smart financial and business decisions that enable smart LIFE decisions.
Learn to Swim with the Best of Them
Probably the best analogy I heard the entire conference came from Mary. She said sometimes in her job she feels just like a duck. Everyone sees you floating calmly on the water, but no one sees you frantically kicking under the water just to keep going.
This sentiment comes from one of the most powerful women in finance! You know what I think? Ducks are clever and cute. And they help each other navigate the rough waters. I see you out there fellow ducks, and I feel you. Let me know if you need help making sense of the nonsense. Schedule a discovery meeting and learn more about the TruWealth Process.