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1. “To be good is different enough.”
"A growing number of investors want to align their portfolios with their values. I believe they will want an advisor who also holds those same values. An advisor who listens and cares. Be that good human. Don’t try to be different. Just be good. To be good is different enough."
2. “In order to buy low and sell high, first you have to buy low.”
"Investors rarely manage to buy low or sell high. They don’t buy low, since any collapsed bargain seems scary, and they don’t sell high because the asset may go higher. Those who most regret missing out on the way up end up fully participating on the way back down."
3. “Stop and turn the turtle.”
"If you see a turtle on its back on the side of the road, stop. Turn the turtle over. It may not be your job, but it’s the right thing to do. The aphorism reminds my staff that they may receive a call from a prospect in need that doesn’t fit the profile of an ideal client. Everyone deserves financial dignity. That means the advisor needs to stop what they are doing, take the call, listen to what is going on and guide the prospect to where they can get help."
4. "Hedge risk, not life."
"Hedging risk—offsetting losses in one asset class with corresponding gains in another—is a sound investment strategy. But a hedged life is no life at all. The most important things call for commitment often based on faith and love alone. Faith and love can’t be hedged. These things must be lived into, fully and without reservation. The best we can do is hedge what risk we can, embrace life with all its messiness and live fully in each moment, thankful that we have choices, including the ones that turn out to be mistakes."
5. “Get clarity for the present to build vision for the future.”
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"The forest, the trees, they all matter. Don’t get stuck in either. Cut loose and see how letting go can free you up to live a life unscripted and beautiful. Speed bumps are there to slow you down. Put some intentional bumps in your plan/day and use that time to assess whether you need to be running full speed or if you might be able to pump the brakes."
6. “A plan remains a dream if it is not implemented.”
"Dreams are great to set goals, but it takes hard work and discipline to carry them forward. Planning is a fluid process, as life is not a straight line. There will be twists and turns, which is why the plan needs to stay top of mind and be modified as life events change."
7. “While there are college loans, there are no retirement loans.”
"I’m a parent of three kids who are now out of high school and in college. Plus, I work with clients whose children are at a similar stage. I share this sentiment with my clients who have younger children. My hope is that parents will choose to put their retirement saving first, thus increasing their chances of having a successful retirement and, hopefully, not becoming a burden on their children."
8. “The loser’s tears are the ones that run dry.”
"My goal with this aphorism is to capture what it means to have a winning spirit.
It’s about having enough resilience to be able to push through when the road gets hard, as it sometimes does with investing. It is OK to allow that emotion to come through, as long as you don’t give up. After studying the patterns of high-performing athletes, successful CEOs and successful investors, I wanted to capture the essence of resilience that allows people to overcome hard things. For clients, I want them to know that hardships will build character if they are willing to endure."
9. “Spend enough to make you happy and not a penny more.”
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"Each additional penny is worth less than a penny."
10. “Investing is about being mostly right.”
"I recently came across an interview I gave 10 years ago. I recommended five stocks. I thought it would be an interesting exercise to review the performance of the five-stock portfolio against the S&P 500. I was astonished to discover that two of the stocks dramatically outperformed the market, one returned in line with the market, and two underperformed (one quite significantly). Yet, the total portfolio generated a return of 249.7% versus 109.4% for the S&P 500 (April 11, 2003 to April 12, 2013)."
11. “The issue is not with what you do know, but what you don’t know.”
"There are a lot of very smart, educated clients and prospects out there, but it is difficult for them to know everything about everything in the financial planning and investment world. What they don’t know about investing and planning decisions can affect them and their families both financially and emotionally in the long run. That could be something as simple as a young investor not selecting the Roth option on their 401(k), which could have large tax implications 30 to 40 years down the line. Or something as complicated as not having the proper estate plan documents, like a power of attorney for financial or health issues. This is where the advice and knowledge of a financial planner can provide value."
12. “You always think you have enough liquidity, until you need it.”
"Even the deepest liquidity reserves tend to ebb during times of economic stress. This is why it makes sense to maintain a highly diversified portfolio, inclusive of high-quality debt instruments and a prudent cash reserve. There is an opportunity cost associated with holding too much low-yielding debt and cash, but holding too little exposes you to potentially extreme downside risk."
13. “Follow the math.”
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"Many investors make financial decisions without doing the math that would point them in the right direction. One common example is comparing pension monthly amounts versus a lump sum offer. It’s difficult to compare a big dollar amount versus a smaller periodic payment until you actually crunch the numbers. When investors do the math, instead of relying on gut or hearsay, they make better decisions."
14. “A reasonable risk tolerance is somewhere between Vegas and under your mattress.”
"Risk tolerance is personal and is on a spectrum: You may be the type of investor that is aggressively gambling, or you may be the conservative type that keeps your money under a mattress. I’ve found that prospects and clients love this phrasing because it gives them something more relatable to connect to when we’re working on their risk tolerance development."
15. “Practice unconscious saving and conscious spending.”
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"Folks often go at it alone and have a hard time with the very basic notion of saving money and that the system is, quite frankly, designed to separate us from our money."
16. “Be the first to notice.”
"This aphorism applies when proactively addressing financial and estate planning needs. If we regularly are the first to highlight an opportunity, problem or solution for a client, then we garner their trust and confidence, even if we are not the one that ultimately provides the solution."
17. “Dive until you touch bottom.”
"Remind clients to do more than solve the surface problem. A problem is always an opportunity to look at the underlying issues. For example, simply setting a budget may not be the right solution if you and your client don’t fully understand why people spend money."
18. “Cash flow is the cake. Appreciation is the frosting. Don’t just eat frosting.”
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"Real estate is an investment with carrying costs: property taxes, insurance, maintenance and capital expenses. Ideally, your cash flow—rents received from a rental property minus property expenses—is positive. A good rental property generates positive cash flow (the cake). A good rental property may also have the potential to appreciate (the frosting). But you can’t eat potential."
19. “Cash gained is value lost; investment lost is value gained.”
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"When you invest in cash, inflation will eventually reduce the value of the cash. By contrast, losing money in investments—however unpleasant—confers experience and learning that can lead to value: better decisions in the future."
20. “The ability to do what you want, when you want, with who you want, for as long as you want, pays the highest return on investment.”
"Time is our most valuable asset because it is the most limited resource. We will never have more time than we have at this moment. Money is a tool that we use to create a life of meaning by using our time in the ways that truly matter to us."