My Unfair Advantages
The alarm went off at 5:15a.m. this morning, just as it has every Tuesday for the last 90-days. In our family if you have anything that you need (or want) to accomplish for yourself, it better be done before 6:45a.m. or else it isn’t going to be done. So my wife and I alternate days for making coffee and then we nestle into our computer for about an hour of pre-work, work. This morning I was greeted by my third quarter investment statements, gently and deliberately layered across my keyboard. As a financial planner, this is like Christmas morning that comes every 90-days…usually. The difference this time, though, was that I knew the surprise awaiting me was not likely to be a pleasant one with the S&P crossing into market correction territory during the quarter and some internationals headed toward the dreaded bear market territory. My stomach sank as I approached my chair. Looking at the first statement, my reaction was a cynical, “exactly what I figured…ugly”. The mood worsened as I looked at the other two.
Almost immediately my mind jumped to, “something must be done about this. I can’t stand losing. Thank goodness the Broncos are 6-0, or I would fire my investment advisor!”, clearly still a little groggy.
Thankfully, the investment-advisor-voice within spoke up and said, “you shouldn’t, wouldn’t and couldn’t”. And I knew he was right. Mark this as unfair advantage #1- the investment-advisor-voice.
I know that I shouldn’t act irrationally. I find irrational people so annoying. Having come across my fair share of unreasonable people, I should know better than to behave that way myself. After all, what good does that do? I know that some of my worst mistakes (and I do mean worst) have come when I have been irrational and impulsive. I know this behavior is a cancer to long-term success. You will never arrive at your destination if you act on every negative experience and interaction you experience. True success, as annoying as it sounds, comes from follow-through on good decisions. Equally frustrating is that it doesn’t always pay-off in 90-day segments. Not even in 1-year segments! But, good decisions coupled with perseverance do pay-off long-term. I’ve seen it within my best client’s portfolios. More importantly, their portfolios are a reflection of their life of success. Were they always successful? Did everything they touch turn to gold? Of course not. But they made good decisions and stuck with them for the long-haul and they paid off slowly and these payoffs compounded over and over again mounted into a great big pile of wins (and money). Regardless of how hard it is to look at the losses, I need to remind myself that I believe in these managers. I believe in these strategies. Yes, I am mad. Probably much like you, I expect results and I don’t think it’s too much to ask that they get it right in a 90-day window. But I also know that sometimes they don’t. That information and insight, gives me unfair advantage #2
No matter how badly I might like to imitate Donald Trump and brashly say, “You’re Fired”!, I know I couldn’t. For all intents and purposes, I am my own financial advisor. Yes, I consult with an outside advisor out of fear of becoming the cobbler with shoeless kids, but at the end of the day, I am the primary advisor on the scene. That’s no different than anyone. Most of us are in control of our financial decisions to some extent. The difference, though, is I am a trained financial advisor by license and a Certified Financial Planner with years of experience. I saw the carnage of the dot com bubble bursting and the collapse of our financial markets in 2008. I truly believe that I am the Bear Grylls of financial planning; expertly trained, experienced, and up to any financial task. There is zero room for self-doubt, in my case, that I am making the right decisions with my money. I am the one in the mirror and I know the dedication and hard work that dude puts into his profession. I also knew my investment-advisor-voice was right. I know better than to fire the investment advisor over a disappointing 90-day result. Now that I have begun to wake-up (thanks to caffeine), using my rational mind, I can admit that it is not his fault. My advisor didn’t cause the markets to move in the direction they did. He didn’t cause an economic slow-down in China and didn’t cause the Greek debt crisis. He’s not on Russian President Vladimir Putin’s cabinet or a phone call away from Fed Chairman Janet Yellen. He is, however, on my advisory council and I shouldn’t forget that I trust my advisor. If I didn’t, then I’d have something to think about. But I do trust him and believe wholeheartedly that every fiber of his being wants me to win in the short-term which is only surpassed by his desire to see me succeed in the long-term. The unblemished trust I have in his desire to see me long-term successful is my unfair advantage #3