“Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” With Jason Hartman & Jared M. Elson

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, test your strategies, understand the risk, and follow a system. It’s when we don’t follow the rules or our system that we tend to get ourselves in trouble when emotions take over. As a part of my series about “Investing During The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure […]

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Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, test your strategies, understand the risk, and follow a system. It’s when we don’t follow the rules or our system that we tend to get ourselves in trouble when emotions take over.

As a part of my series about “Investing During The Pandemic”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jared M. Elson

Jared M. Elson is CEO of Regent Wealth Management. Twelve years ago, he left a career in tech to focus on helping others achieve their ideal financial future. Now, a decade later, Regent Wealth Management has helped people across the Silicon Valley with their finances and retirements.

Thank you for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?

I always had entrepreneurial aspirations and goals of helping people through my work.

However, having lived my entire life in Silicon Valley the natural path was toward a career in technology. I ended up working at Yahoo for ten years.

I started my career in finance while I was working in high tech and it quickly accelerated in 2008 when the financial crisis hit. It was during this time that I made my transition to financial planning and risk management.

My business partner at the time had a similar plan in mind and together we grew our firm from just us two. Today, we have a full team at Regent Wealth Management and even created a sister company, Woman’s Worth.

My years have been rewarding. I have had the opportunity to help people every day get closer to their financial goals, so they can achieve their life goals and have the impact on the world that they most desire.

Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occured to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?

Being in the business of personal financial planning, we hear a lot of stories from clients and potential clients. Some stories are happy, some sad, silly, or very serious. I love that every day I get to know people and hear stories on a personal level. I relish in the opportunity that I get to share in their lives and help them well into their future.

My job is to listen to the music between the words that are being spoken. Sometimes the words from someone’s story, and what they are saying, is not exactly what they mean. The thing we always have to remember as planners are to dig deep and go beyond the surface in many instances because what you see at the top isn’t always going to lead to the recommendation you may have given right away.

I have also learned that when you share yourself, and focus on giving as much value as you can into a relationship, that will be returned to you. Over and over again, I have found that when I try to provide as much value for people as possible, even if it doesn’t mean profit or revenue for me, everyone has better outcomes and that rewards come. We pride ourselves in deeper connections and building lasting relationships with our clients.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

There are always new things we are working on. Our projects don’t tend to be new products or widgets, but rather how can we bring more value to those that we serve. We constantly ask ourselves, “are there new or better ways to do what we are doing?” We are always striving to build efficiencies everywhere in our enterprise. We always want to improve ourselves whether it’s for clients and their investments, internally to better our client services, or value creation so those that aren’t yet clients can truly see how much value we can deliver.

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?

One of the biggest things I’ve learned in my career, is that you always have room to improve. You are who you surround yourself with, and personal development never stops. But the biggest influencer certainly would be my business partner whom I started with. He helped me grow our firm into what it is today. We have complementary skill sets, and certainly, through the tough start, I wouldn’t have made it on my own.

A partnership can certainly be like a marriage at times, complete with disagreements. It takes two adults in the room to respect each other’s social styles and strengths in order to have success.

If there was one most important rule we followed, it was this — never say I told you so. No matter how much you may want to say that, nothing good can come from it. We both had times where we needed to bite our tongue, and we always came out stronger than before any kind of challenge.

Let’s shift a bit to what is happening today in the broader world. Many people have become anxious from the dramatic jolts of the news cycle. The fears related to the coronavirus pandemic have understandably heightened a sense of uncertainty and loneliness. From your experience, what are a few ideas that we can use to effectively offer support to our families and loved ones who are feeling anxious? Can you explain?

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly changed daily life for many, if not all of us. We have physical distance separating us from family members. Even in my own case, my parents live just a three-minute drive from our house. But since orders to shelter-in-place have kept us apart for their protection as someone who is high-risk, we have found ways to support them and maintain a healthy outlook. We keep up with phone calls, video calls, dropping off food so they don’t have to go out, and keeping them in touch with their grand daughters. It’s great that we are able to keep their relationship with their grand daughters growing and share things such as crafts or videos. Now, more than ever, we need our loved ones to know that we care for them. It goes a long way.

Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. As you know the stock market and the economy in general have become extremely volatile and uncertain. Many people “dollar cost average” and put aside a monthly sum into a long term savings plan for retirement, college, or a home purchase. If a loved one or a client came to you and said, “I have been saving and investing $500 every month in an S&P 500 index fund. Over the next few months until the dust settles, should I be doing something else with my money?”, what would you say to them?

Dollar cost averaging is a strategy for building wealth that has stood the test of time. The challenge with the stock market is that it’s an open system and none of us has the crystal ball to know when it’ll hit the peak or the bottom. Too often, as individuals, trying to time the market means we have to be right twice and we frequently aren’t. We have to be right when to sell and right again when to buy. To limit that, we dollar cost average.

You have to make sure you are honest with yourself about how much risk you are willing to take, and if you are willing to see some money potentially go down before it goes up. If you aren’t willing to see that volatility, perhaps the S&P 500 isn’t the place to be. But if you are okay with some and you look at the long term, often times the market’s best days are within a few days of it’s worst days. Missing out on too many of the best days can impact your long term results, if that is your focus. What you should be doing with your money depends on your individual tolerance for volatility and your goals.

Something to ask yourself in this situation — will you need that money in the short term? If so, maybe the market isn’t the best place, but if you look at it long term, recent volatility may actually create a buying opportunity in the long run.

Eventually the economy will recover and rebound. Certain sectors, like travel and hospitality, might be hurting for a while. But other sectors, like technology and healthcare, might do very well. If someone wanted to prepare today to take advantage of the future recovery, what would you suggest they do?

Find a source for information that you trust. There are a lot of unique things going on in the economy right now from high stock market volatility to rapid changes in the labor market, to massive stimulus packages being passed. Governments around the world are trying to keep economies going while they have to deal with an enemy that can’t be seen.

If you have an advisor, talk to them, and see what they recommend from their research. I believe there will be opportunities out there, but there is also a lot of conflicting opinions.

Don’t put all your eggs in one basket, test your strategies, understand the risk, and follow a system. It’s when we don’t follow the rules or our system that we tend to get ourselves in trouble when emotions take over.

Are there sectors that provide exciting and lucrative investment opportunities today, specifically because of the volatility and uncertainty?

I would watch for companies that are positioned to take advantage of permanent changes in our behavior as a result of the pandemic. Consider how business will be conducted differently and what new behaviors or spending patterns will we all adopt as a result of this experience. It certainly seems that lots of opportunities will exist.

Are there alternative investments that you think more people should look more deeply at?

If there is one big lesson that we can take away from this, it’s that markets can change rapidly. In less than 25 days, we saw a decline in major indexes that exceeded 30%. That’s almost unprecedented and the last time markets declined that fast was in the early 1930s. Almost universally, stock and bond assets went down, as well.

I think this serves as a reminder that having a diverse portfolio means more than just stocks and bonds. It means having different assets in different asset classes. If you are retired it could mean more assets with guarantees associated with them for principal protection or income. It could also mean looking at more physical assets and building more into your portfolio with hedges to limit volatility. One should always be looking at how you can diversify. It doesn’t necessarily improve our returns in any single year, but it can cushion the blows when things go south.

If a person in their thirties and forties came to you today and said that they have $10,000 that they want to put away today for a long term investment what would you advise them to do with it?

In the long run, the market is still a great vehicle for growth. I would look at a diverse portfolio using indexes to get exposure to multiple companies and asset classes. It’ll be important to know that over a period of time, chances that it does well are much better than the chances that it won’t. You have quite some time and you can dollar cost average on a weekly or monthly basis to help control the current volatility.

Ok, thank you! Here is a more general finance question. 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?

  1. Average returns aren’t the whole story. Too many times as an investor, we tend to only look at the average return of an investment, without paying attention to its volatility and asset growth. Sometimes a lower volatility portfolio with a lower average return can outperform a higher volatility portfolio with a higher average return, especially during periods where there was high volatility. Avoiding losses can be more important than getting the highest possible gain.
  2. Diversification doesn’t improve returns, it lowers risk. In any single year, diversification won’t improve your returns. In fact, it will lower them from what they could have been if you had the crystal ball and knew which investment was going to give you the best return. But since we don’t have the crystal ball, we must diversify. This is especially important in company 401K plans and other stock rewards. For many of us it may seem unlikely. The collapse of Enron was financially devastating to many Enron employees because of an overexposure to Enron stock.
  3. Be patient. It’s tempting to look at the account every day, but even if you think something is a shorter-term trade, sometimes patience is the better part of valor. If you are properly diversified, a single sector or company can’t sink your ship.
  4. Don’t forget to rebalance. When you have areas of your portfolio that perform well, consider rebalancing. It’s okay to take some gains off the table. This can limit your volatility and help prevent a risk increase in your portfolio as some parts of it can grow and can make your overall risk higher than you are comfortable with.
  5. Always keep the end goal in mind. Remember to consider how soon you will need this money and how much risk do you need to take to reach your goals. If you take something out early how will it impact your long term goals? All great things to consider round-the-clock.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It’s actually something I learned recently from Hal Elrod, the author of the “Miracle Morning.”

Sometimes life comes at you fast, and sometimes things that happen can seem incredibly unfair and leave you in a very negative place. The best thing we can do is to look at those things that life hands out and accept that, what has happened, happened, and we can’t change it. Instead, look to the future, look at what we can change, and how we can impact the world. Dwelling on the past that can’t be changed, being upset about it, can’t do anything to change our future. Instead, let’s look at what we can control and control that.

You are a person of enormous 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. 🙂

I would love to see our youth educated about finance, investing, and how to handle money. Young people today aren’t usually given the kind of education they deserve when it comes to their finances, money and debt. Imagine if we had an entire generation of fiscally responsible young people and what they could do for our country.

Thank you for the interview. We wish you only continued success!

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