If you can automate your investing, bill pay and saving you should. This can help you stay on track and not debate whether the money would be better used elsewhere (today’s needs) vs. your financial plan. Automating your bill payments can help avoid late fees and penalty rates. This has helped me when there has been more to manage than usual at work and home.
As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Misty Lynch, CFP®.
Misty Lynch is a Certified Financial Planner™, Certified Life Coach and Financial Advisor at Beck Bode, LLC. She helps people handle their money with confidence for the betterment of their life, family, and business. Misty is also a personal finance expert and a resource for media outlets. She has been featured in The New York Times, CNBC, CNN, Oprah Magazine, Business Insider, Real Simple, Student Loan Hero and many others. US News and World Report named her one of the 9 Women in Finance to Follow “because sometimes you need life advice, not just financial advice”. Her personal finance blog can be found at https://mistylynch.com/
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance field?
My parents are small business owners, so money was something we were always talking about. People tend to think owning a business is glamorous and while it does have some advantages it is not checking the laptop from the beach a few times a day for most people. It can involve a lot of stress, decision making and hard times as well. Being exposed to all of this as a child made me very curious about money. For a lot of my life I believed that money was the cause and solution to every problem. I thought if I could just figure out how to make a lot of it — life would be perfect.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
I like to think my career really began 25 years ago. When I was in 6th grade we did a stock market contest where we all had to look at the paper and select a stock. At the end of 2 weeks we would see which kid picked the best stock and won the game. This was my first introduction to the stock market and I was obsessed with the thought of just buying something that could make money without having to do the work yourself. At that time both my parents were working very hard, but money was still tight due to the economy and other factors.
I thought Coca Cola had a real winner on its hands when it came to the fruit “flavored” beverage Fruitopia so that is where my fake money went. Coca Cola didn’t perform great in the two-week time frame but feel pretty good knowing that Warren Buffett has made billions on the same investment.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I started a radio show and podcast “Modern Money with Misty Lynch” on WRKO AM680 in Boston this year. The show features interviews with financial and business experts about their path to success and with the goal of inspiring others who can relate to their stories. In addition, I mix in some life coaching because even if people know what they “should” do with their money their own brain may be working against them to keep them exactly where they are.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Our company Beck Bode, has a very strict but easy to comprehend strategy when it comes to investing. We invest in 100% stock portfolios and have rules that we follow regarding what we buy, when we sell and what we do with the proceeds. When I discuss investing with people who claim to “not understand” it they tend to be surprised by how it can be explained in a way that they do not feel confused or overwhelmed. The industry is so full of jargon and unnecessarily complicated features and fee structures I am not surprised when I meet people who have checked out of trying to get it. When I get them to come back into the process of understanding and managing their money it feels amazing.
Ok. Thank you for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. Wall Street and Finance used to be an “all white boys club”. This has changed a lot recently. In your opinion, what caused this change?
Women are fed up. Seriously, we are at a point and time where we are getting the same educations, careers and responsibilities as men but are still fighting to be treated like equals when it comes to money. Even now I can be in a situation where my husband and I are going to make a big purchase and it is like I am invisible. A lot of my work is done with women who are supporting themselves or are the breadwinner in their family. When I work with clients, I want all the decision makers at the table from the start so we can work together to plan the right financial moves for the future they want.
Women are not a “niche” either — we are half of the population and have very different views and goals. The thought that we are all the same and just want to be “safe” and all “hate math” makes me nauseous. We have been largely ignored as a group though. If there is anything I can do to help narrow the gap when it comes to the wage or investing gap, I am going to try to do it.
Of course, despite the progress, we still have a lot more work to do to achieve parity. According to this report in CNBC, less than 17 percent of senior positions in investment banks are held by women. In your opinion or experience, what 3 things can be done by a) individuals b) companies and/or c) society to support this movement going forward?
As individuals it is important to look around at your network. Does everyone look like you? Do all your opinions sound alike? Start listening to different people — if it is on social media, podcasts or other outlets and just “listen”. Companies need to start doing the same thing and monitor their progress towards gender parity. If all the decision makers look the same and are reaching out to their own networks to fill the big jobs a lot of great candidates are going to be left out.
As a society, I think people need to get over their own feelings about privilege and do work on themselves to be more socially conscious. I used to think I was not privileged because of financial hardships in my past and being a woman. By doing the work that is needed I acknowledge that I have had tremendous privileges in my life just by being straight, average sized, average looking and able-bodied. We must get past this and do our own personal work to get better as a society and become real allies for people who have experienced challenges we may not have and level the playing field.
Let’s now turn to a slightly new topic. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers? If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?
It is disappointing to see these results, but I am not surprised by the numbers. I think our society is very secretive and ashamed when it comes to finances — and this goes for people who are poor, rich, or in between. Since it is not something everyone learns in school, and we may not have role models at home that teach us about money it can be very hard for someone to know where to begin learning.
The number one thing I would do to improve these numbers is stop ignoring the impact behavior has on finances. Just understanding the math is not enough. For example, if someone gets the concept of compound interest, they may take on the debt anyway because they “feel” it is the right decision to make. Just like someone on a diet may know a cookie is a bad choice but grab it anyway because they think they deserve it. The primitive part of our brain only exists in the present and is always trying to find pleasure, avoid pain and conserve energy. The human part of our brain can plan and solve complex problems. If we acknowledge that when it comes to our finances, we will have more success.
Second, we need to look at the systemic issues we have when it comes to future generations. There is enormous pressure for young people to go to the best college they can get into, without much thought about the long-term financial impact of their decisions. When you start your adult life 5 or 6 figures in debt for doing what you thought was the right thing it can be incredibly depressing and hard to get out from under. Especially when starting salaries have not kept up with the price of school. Heath issues can be equally challenging and leave people with few options. Learning how to maximize your money and wealth is difficult when you are just trying to survive.
Third, I would encourage anyone to take advantage of financial resources they may have available to them. You do not need to be an “expert” to get started. Financial literacy can get stronger like a muscle, but you must start somewhere. If you have an employer see what they offer as far as investments and retirement programs. This may be the easiest path to getting started — even if you just put a small % of your earnings away to start it is a step in the right direction! For business owners, find out what accounts you can take advantage of to save and invest based on your business structure. Getting in the habit of putting something away for your future and then learn as you go.
You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each?
- Think about what your goals are and when you want them to happen. You should invest differently for your short, medium, and long-term goals. Think of it like a speed limit, your short-term goals are a school zone. Take too much risk there and it could cause a lot of problems. The opposite goes for driving 10 MPH on the highway with your long-term goals.
- Be mindful who you take advice from. A lot of people want to judge others when it comes to how they spend money or how much they make. It does not make them an expert.
- Read books. There are a lot of great books that can help you with basic financial literacy, negotiation, sales, marketing, and other strategies that can help you financially. Even if you take one tip away it is a good investment. Reading is what got me where I am today.
- Don’t panic when you see a headline on the TV. I think investing can seem terrifying if you just watch the news 24/7. The truth is the media creates shows to entertain audiences and have to make it seem exciting all the time. If you do not need the money you have invested for decades just stick to your plan and do not get derailed by fear.
- If you can automate your investing, bill pay and saving you should. This can help you stay on track and not debate whether the money would be better used elsewhere (today’s needs) vs. your financial plan. Automating your bill payments can help avoid late fees and penalty rates. This has helped me when there has been more to manage than usual at work and home.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My husband has been the best partner. I’ve heard about how a lot of women have had to work less during the pandemic in order to take on the child care and school tasks and I’m glad to have a spouse that does equal if not more of the work to keep our family going. I left a big corporate job in January to take a risk that meant I would make less money and take on more risk initially working with an independent firm. He has never doubted me or stopped me from dreaming about what the future could look like for us.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Fight for the things you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you” — Ruth Bader Ginsburg
I love this quote because I think if we all tried to fight for things we care about in a way that isn’t judgmental, abrasive and comes from a place of love we can all accomplish great things for ourselves and others.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
People need to start examining their own thoughts. I hear people say they are “bad with money” or “will be in debt forever” and other limiting beliefs that they never question. It is like they are telling me the weather — not a thought that is completely optional. Changing your thoughts is free. If you cannot go straight from negative to positive you could try more neutral thoughts about money. This could be reframing your debt by thinking about what it afforded you (an education, a home, etc.) or that you have enough money for today. Beating yourself up over your current situation never helps.