Every year about this time I celebrate two milestone anniversaries. The first one, was the launch of my career in the financial services industry with Ross Perot in 1970. The second marks the year I became a financial advisor with New England Life in 1976.
Fifty and forty-four years, respectively; that’s a while! Neither move began with a thought-out sense of what would come next. Both involved relocating to new cities where I knew, pretty much, no one. I had no idea what I was doing. I just wanted something different for my life. Mistakes were my primary technique for finally getting things right. The only substantial thing I had was that my Mom and Dad had raised me to believe I could do and be anything I set my mind to. Good thing I was clueless enough to think that was still true.
There is nothing particularly unique about my early career starts. Most of us don’t grow up knowing exactly who we want to be or what we want to do. We just bounce around till we find it. What helped my success were the values I learned at an early age from my parents, my church, my teachers, the Boy Scouts, Little League, DeMolay, and the YMCA. The people whose papers I delivered and whose lawns I mowed taught me how to conduct a business before I conducted puberty. To the extent that those people and those organizations are permitted to teach those values these days, I bet they still work.
Whatever the reasons, I was very fortunate to find the financial industry at a perfect time. In all the years since I started, early fundamentals still govern my thinking and our business model:
- Individual sales are not important. Relationships are! If every sale attends to YOUR interest first, relationships develop. If not, they never have a chance.
- It's never about us, what techniques we employ, or how much money we manage; it's always and only about you, your dreams and your fears.
- Everything we do revolves around the major events in your life and our mutual preparation for them. Year-to-date performance is meaningless compared to wheather or not you can afford to buy a home, educate your kids, pay for your healthcare, start a business, and retire with dignity. Understanding what each takes and having a plan to make each a reality is an important job for you and us. Succeeding at that is a great feeling for all.
- When your investment go up, you are a genius. When your investments go down, I am an idiot. Resisting both notions is helpful for our mutual success.
- How you FEEL about your money is much more important than what you KNOW about your money. Behavioral finance teaches that those feelings will dominate your actions. Our feelings about when markets move are generally counter intuitive.
- You will either have a budget or we will have a problem. If your budget and you spend less then you make, we have a solution.
- Involuntary, systematic, monthly savings is the most boring, yet effective way to plan.
- Having a charitable component to your saving will add meaning to your life. If you do not, you likely won't know what you're missing.
Thanks for letting me ramble, reminisce, and remind you about some old ideas that still resonate. Happy anniversaries to me. It means the world to us to be a tiny piece of your puzzle and a small ingredient in your success. We so appreciate that opportunity.