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A financial advisor gets some advice

I recently attended one of the nation’s premier educational conferences for financial advisors. The attendees came from large municipalities and small towns from coast to coast. I’ve always found that I can learn a lot from money managers, financial analysts and technicians at these meetings. But I believe I get the most, the pulse of the nation, by talking to my peers.

My non-scientific conclusion is that there’s generally a great deal of optimism, but there’s also a legitimate concern that things are beginning to slow down. After conversing with my peers and hearing experts refer to the continued strength of the economy, I believe if we have a severe downturn or recession, it just might happen because we talked ourselves into it.

Even if the economy is slowing down a bit, most technicians foresee modest growth. But after an unprecedented ten consecutive years of strong growth, it would be naïve to think the economy won’t hit a road bump at some point.

Fluctuations are part of the investing equation and the recent volatility should come as no surprise to seasoned investors. A lot has been written that the inverted yield curve is a recession indicator. But in reality, it was just a flash in the pan. It came and went faster than it takes for your morning cup of coffee.

  I heard nothing that leads me to believe the financial world is about to collapse; nor do I envision that everyone’s investments will suddenly skyrocket. Rather, I’d say we’re in for modest growth at a slow but steady pace with some ups and dips along the way. 

I believe it’s more important now than ever to have broad-based investments with a defined goal, well-planned strategy and full understanding of risk. Trying to time the market and pick individual winners and losers would indicate you don’t understand risk.

My conference featured two keynote speakers, Katie Couric and retired Admiral William McRaven.

Couric was previously a host of the Today Show and later the first female anchor on the nightly national news. Her life may sound glamorous, but she worked hard, and along the way lost a spouse and a sister. In short, she had hurdles to overcome just like the rest of us. I found it interesting that she related how she wished her father had spoken to her about money management beyond just balancing a checkbook. She shared stories about her upcoming book, the new companies she’s launching and her charitable work for cancer research.

The other speaker, Admiral McRaven shared detailed stories about the extremely difficult Navy Seal training. Some of the toughest SEALS, he said, were not the largest. And he added that you should never judge a person on how they look, but by the size of their heart.  He discussed both the Bin Laden raid that he commanded, and the capture of Saddam Hussein, stressing the importance of planning and teamwork. He pointed out that life is about how you bounce back from failures and why it’s important to stand up to the bullies of the world.

Famous people have ups and downs just like everyone else. And they have to make pocketbook decisions just like you and me. Nobody knows what lies around the corner, so prepare, plan and be resilient.