I invest money for people.
How would you describe what you do?
I create either a nest egg for retirement, or an income for them to live off of based on the investable assets that they have. And then I also give them advice in areas that I really don’t have anything to do with such as whether they should do a mortgage on their house, or whether they should spend money for this or that, because ultimately I know what their basis is on their investable assets and so I try to keep them from overspending for something they really can’t afford. Or in some cases I tell them to live life a little better, be a little less conservative because they can afford to. Sometimes it helps to have someone from the outside tell you that, rather than you come up with it on your own.
What does your work entail?
Again, I have to be knowledgeable of the market, of mortgage rates, anything that has to do with your financial health. So that I’m capable of answering a question from a standpoint “Should I invest this money in XYZ? Well it really depends on what your risk tolerance is. That’s different for different people. It really depends on what your future goals are, that’s different for everyone. And just because one person would say to you “I want my money to make X for me, and another person would say “I want to make Y off my money.” If somebody expects to make 10% a year on their money, then why put them in investments that would make 30%. Its more risk than they’re willing to take on.
This week I’ve probably put in easily 12 hours a day, six days a week. It probably won’t be half that next week, it varies. A lot of it depends on who needs what for that week, and what the markets doing for that week. Sometimes the best thing you can do in the market is nothing. Sometimes that is the very best decision.
You don’t want to try to make something out of nothing. Probably 90% of the returns in the market are made in 10% to 15% the amount of time through the year.
How did you get started?
I’ve always been good with numbers, I like to read, the market fascinates me, and although I’ve been in it 20 plus years I think if I was in it 50 plus years, every day, almost every day without fail, you learn something new. Therefore it’s always challenging.
What do you like about what you do?
I like what I do, but more than that I like who I do it for. My clients are all very, very close friends. It gives me an opportunity to be involved in their life which I dearly enjoy, and so my life kind of wraps around theirs. I don’t know what I could do for them other than this that I would be this involved with them.
What do you dislike?
The industry that I’m in is very, very heavily regulated. And some of the regulations are so pyramided meaning so many regulations accomplish the same thing, but it’s just that so few people understand the business they create all these levels of regulations that are something you can’t get around. You have to deal with them. Our industry is one that has never moved into the computer age. We still have to keep paper records, and when I say paper records you have to keep some of them for six years, which is archaic, but it’s never changed. So the industry has never gone has never progressed itself to the level that technology has.
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
I make money as a percentage of assets that I manage for people. If their account goes up then my salary will go up with it. If their account goes down, I take a pay cut. So as they do well so do I.
How much money do you make?
Would you say there are any perks to this career
You make friends in this business that are, you know, they start out as clients, and you can’t spend that much time with people without getting to know them extremely well. And if there is a click there between you and your clients, then you’re enriched with a friendship that you probably wouldn’t have had otherwise. If you played golf once a week, or if you were in the Rotary club together, you’re not going to develop that level of communication that you would through casual contact, and I have that with quite a few people.
What education or skills are need to do this?
A college degree, mine was in finance, but if I had to do it over again I probably would get a degree in English. So a college degree would probably be a starting point, and then you have to have obtained different licenses depending on what field you want to go into in investment. You’ve got to start out with a Series 7, and then there are other series depending on what you’re going to do in the business; 7, 8, 9, 10, 4, 63, 66, it just goes on and on.
What is most challenging about what you do?
Probably the most challenging is curbing people’s greed and expectations. Because in reality in today’s market if you can make 10% on your money you’re doing extremely well, and people think they should make more, and many times they do. But I would say curbing their expectations is probably the biggest challenge, and then making them be honest with themselves. For someone to say they want to make more than 10%, then obviously they’ve got to take risks that would jeopardize their principal. And in reality for most people, I’ve heard it said that Will Rogers said this, “For most people the return of their principal is far more important than the return on their principal.” Because as you get older you have less of a hope of replacing your nest egg, so as long as you keep that intact and it earns a return for you you’ll do well.
What is most rewarding?
Seeing people do well. I see it before they do, and so it’s almost like being a part of it with them, so that’s definitely the most rewarding
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Probably don’t do it, and the reason I say that, you know I’ve got 20 plus years in it, and so it’s a little late for me to turn around, but it’s like so many fields that you go into where you put a lot of study time and before you get started. Whether you’re a doctor, or whether you’re an investment adviser, or whatever everything is kind of going into a packaged product. And for most people a packaged product is okay. They buy a mutual fund and they are diversified from dollar one to some degree. My generation, which is the generation of baby boomers, you know we’re creeping towards retirement, and so therefore we want to take less risk with our money, so a packaged product is just fine. So it’s hard to differentiate yourself from the other people in your field, and when I think you really do well is when you can do that.
How much time off do you get/take?
Well, everybody needs time away from their job. Most people should take two weeks away just to refresh themselves. You know I take off when I want to take off, and maybe it does average two weeks a year, maybe it averages five weeks a year, but what I do is work, passion, hobby it’s a lot wrapped up in one for me. I make money at it, but I enjoy what I do so I would probably do it if I didn’t get paid. So for me I’m one of those lucky people that I get to come to work and do something that I enjoy, even more than that I enjoy who I do it for. So I’m not as in need of a break from it as most people would be if they worked on an assembly line.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
That you make a lot of money at it. If I were to put an hourly amount based on time that I spend at it, it would shock people. So that’s probably the biggest misconception.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
Well, I’ll probably do it as long as I’m mentally capable of doing it, certainly as long as I’m healthy enough to do it, because I enjoy it. So I don’t expect next year it to be different from this year. I enjoy what I’m doing so. I’ve reached the age right don’t make long-term plans, you know. I do more long-term planning for my clients than I do for myself. Me personally I don’t buy green bananas. So that tells you a lot about my focus and forecast. And I never tell my clients “Oh you’re in for the long run. Don’t worry about it. It will take care of itself. If people really believe that, then you would be able to tell your banker when your note comes due, “Don’t worry about it. Ill get it to you eventually. You know, your money has to work for you just like you work for it.
Great post and insight. Any suggestions for a recent graduate looking to break into the career field? I understand that it may be more competitive now than in years past, even though the field is expanding.