“Euphoria.” With Tyler Gallagher & Author Deb Meyer

Fear is a strong emotion when the stock market is declining. Likewise, euphoria may drive our emotions when the market is performing well. Finding a rational compromise between these two extremes is essential to sound investing. If you consider yourself an overly “emotional” investor, you may find immense value in hiring a financial advisor who […]

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Fear is a strong emotion when the stock market is declining. Likewise, euphoria may drive our emotions when the market is performing well. Finding a rational compromise between these two extremes is essential to sound investing. If you consider yourself an overly “emotional” investor, you may find immense value in hiring a financial advisor who can remind you of your overall objectives.

As a part of my series about strong female finance leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Deb Meyer.

Deborah L. Meyer, CPA/PFS and CFP®, is the Amazon bestselling author of Redefining Family Wealth and owner of WorthyNest®, a fee-only financial planning and investment advisory firm that helps parents build wealth in alignment with their values. She has been featured in The Wall Street Journal, Forbes, and Authority Magazine and is a contributor to Kiplinger. Deb is a 2019 CPA Practice Advisor “40 Under 40 Honoree” in Accounting and received the 2018 AICPA Standing Ovation Award for Personal Financial Planning. Outside of work, Deb spends time with her husband Bryan and three sons.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance field?

Certainly! Most of my childhood was marked by frequent out-of-state moves because of my father’s tumultuous career in manufacturing. I lived in four states prior to starting fourth grade. Fortunately, my mother was a CPA, so she easily found new employment whenever we relocated in search of a new manufacturing position for my dad.

My parents never spent money on frivolous things even though my dad’s earnings were strong as a plant manager. My dad instinctually knew that another possible financial setback could be a few months away. I’m proud that my parents fostered great savings habits in me, but much of my childhood was marked by financial scarcity:

“Money doesn’t grow on trees.”

“Turn off the lights and don’t waste electricity.”

Starting my own fee-only financial planning and investment advisory firm WorthyNest® in 2016 provided an opportunity to rewrite the script. I want other parents to know they are not alone if they have financial anxiety. Most of this stress stems from limiting beliefs — often cultivated in childhood — and lack of clarity in values. WorthyNest® and Redefining Family Wealth provide hope to parents who want to break free from survival mode and live abundantly.

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?

Early in my career, I asked one of my mentors about “next steps” in the financial advisory profession. He encouraged me to pursue the Certified Financial PlannerTM, or CFP® designation.

I finally felt prepared after nearly a year of studying. The exam was a two-day pen and paper assessment. I couldn’t sleep the night before the first day of the exam. Nausea and anxiousness got the best of me.

Ironically, it wasn’t just a case of test nerves. I was pregnant with my first son!

The lesson? Don’t make assumptions without having the facts. It’s easy to let emotion drive your decision-making, but logic is another crucial component.

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

Of course! I want to help thousands of parents build wealth in alignment with their values and plan to launch a podcast later this year. Hopefully, online courses and another book within the next few years.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

My firm WorthyNest® exclusively serves parents who want to build wealth without compromising their values. We get to intimately know each family member, understanding their innermost desires and fears. Rather than jumping straight into financial tactics and investment terminology, we spend a lot of time at the beginning of the relationship discussing money mindset, core values, and future goals. These discussions lay a strong foundation for investment decisions and legacy planning.

As fiduciaries, we always put our clients’ best interests first. That means the emotional side of a decision gets equal weighting to the financial aspects. If my client stays up at night feeling burdened by debt and has enough money to pay off his mortgage quickly, we discuss ways to make extra principal payments — as long as she understands the financial tradeoff of this decision.

Employing financial tactics without a strong foundation and strategy is cause for disaster. That’s why we emphasize holistic financial planning.

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?

I don’t think you can point to a single event for this change. The #MeToo movement certainly highlighted sexism across all industries. Sallie Krawcheck launched Ellevest, a digital finance platform specifically for women, in 2016. The CFP Board, the governing body for Certified Financial PlannerTM professionals, has devoted countless resources to encourage more female financial advisers to pursue certification. Rianka Dorsainvil recently created the 2050 Trailblazers podcast to address concerns about diversity, equity and inclusion in the financial services industry.

All of these steps are building momentum and helping us create a more inclusive profession. As the makeup of our nation evolves, the professional service providers must be equally diverse.

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?

Great question! There are several ways to achieve parity:

  • Speak Up

Individually use your privilege to speak out if you witness an injustice. Let your supervisor know if you see a female colleague being treated unfairly or passed over for promotion. If you are making a career move, look at the makeup of the organizations where you are interviewing. Are there other females and people of color in leadership roles? If not, look elsewhere.

  • Don’t Make Corporate Diversity an Afterthought

Larger companies should proactively hire a diversity and inclusion officer, not reactively as a scapegoat when the company culture is already toxic. Add a diversity component to performance reviews. If someone is outwardly sexist or racist, he shouldn’t receive the biggest bonus or pay increase.

  • Invest

At a societal level, we can collectively spend money to support female and minority-owned businesses. Recent studies indicate that women-owned firms account for 39% of all privately held businesses but only 4.2% of revenues. Please keep this in mind as you shop for goods and services.

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?

In my opinion, a lot of this financial literacy gap is attributable to self-limiting beliefs. You tell yourself that you are bad with money. You feel like you don’t have enough money. Or you trust someone else to handle all financial matters on your behalf.

To improve, start with your own limiting beliefs. Why do you tell yourself these things are true when they are simply stories you create internally? Come up with new mantras like “I’m going to be more financially responsible” or “My family is worthy of a brighter financial future.”

Next, focus on education. Learn as much as you can and are willing to digest. Read articles and books about financial wellness. Listen to personal finance podcasts or audiobooks if you don’t enjoy reading.

Finally, do not be afraid to ask questions. If you work with a financial advisor, ask him or her during a meeting to explain industry jargon that you don’t understand. Seek out a different advisor if he cannot explain the concept simply and clearly. Knowledge is power.

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?

Of course! Here are five essentials for smart investing:

  • Know Your Why

What does your ideal life look like? Where do you want to be five years from now? Begin with this overarching vision, and then design multiple goals around that vision.

If you want to buy your first home in five years, you should have a cash savings account that will earn interest even when the stock market is declining. Someone thirty years away from retirement should have a fairly aggressive retirement account with more equities than bonds. A child’s 529 college savings plan should have a different investment mix, tailored specifically to the targeted withdrawal date. Start with the big picture plan and decide if your investments fit that plan.

  • Asset Mix Reigns

Only 10% of your investment performance is attributable to the positions you choose. The other 90% of performance is based on the asset mix, or ratio of stocks to bonds. Develop two investment strategies — one that is short-term and another that is focused on longer-term goals.

Putting all of your long-term investment savings into a bond fund as a 30-year-old is akin to hiding all of your cash ATM withdrawals under the mattress. These “safer” assets do not grow nearly as much as equities. When you have time on your side, you can take more investment risk.

  • Beware of Market Timing

When you try to time the market, it’s as if you are leaving your seat for a bathroom break at a college basketball game right before the winning play. You tactically move in and out of positions based on whether you think the stock market will go up or down on a given day. Market timing is more than a gamble. It’s downright exhausting.

Instead, develop an asset mix, and stick to it. Assess the level of risk you are willing to take and see if your existing investments are consistent with it.

  • Avoid Individual Stock Picking

Similar to market timing, individual stock selection is a gamble. There are fundamentals you can study, but the time and energy you have to devote to it is probably better spent with family and friends. Luck is the biggest component. Additionally, stock picking can quickly become addictive; like a shopaholic who feels a surge of dopamine after every purchase, a stock picker experiences a similar mental boost when his stock reaches a new level. The opposite holds true, too. When a shopaholic hits her spending limit or a stock picker notices a 10% decline in stock price one day, the pain is real.

Buy a basket of companies instead of focusing on individual stocks. Mutual funds and exchange traded funds, or ETFs, offer the benefits of diversification. When it comes to investing, are you preparing for a sprint or marathon? If Aesop’s fable “The Tortoise and the Hare” is any indication, slow and steady often wins the race.

  • Understand Behavioral Biases

Emotions can be helpful in times of danger; they enable you to slam on the brakes if a small child rides his bike across the street in front of your moving car. Nonetheless, emotions often drive our decision-making as human beings. They are usually reactive and may create biases or distort reality.

Fear is a strong emotion when the stock market is declining. Likewise, euphoria may drive our emotions when the market is performing well. Finding a rational compromise between these two extremes is essential to sound investing. If you consider yourself an overly “emotional” investor, you may find immense value in hiring a financial advisor who can remind you of your overall objectives.

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?

This is a tough question because there are so many people who have influenced me in a special way.

As a child, it was my mom and dad who encouraged me to “be anything” and try new things. Now as an adult, my faith relationship is front and center. I know God is always there to support me, even during difficult times.

Professionally, I’m grateful to Jason Rule, Susan Jones, Don Poling, Kathy Lintz, and the team at Book Launchers.

I’m also appreciative of Jeff Goins and the Portfolio People mastermind. Jeff’s book The Art of Work completely changed my perspective on calling.

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

My favorite quote comes from Mother Teresa:

“Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

It has and continues to be relevant because it touches on the one thing within our control: love. Are you loving your family well? Neighbors? Friends? Clients?

On a daily basis, there are hundreds of instances to either be loving or withhold your love. You can wipe up the spilled milk and give your tearful four-year-old a hug, or you can get agitated and ask him, “Why do you always make mistakes?”.

Mother Teresa was a true servant leader. She was a missionary, dutifully caring for the sick and poor. I don’t plan on living in Calcutta anytime soon, but I want to be just like her. I want to show up for others every day in the most compassionate and caring way.

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. 🙂

I’d love to inspire a movement that is focused on family values.

Too many times, parents are on autopilot. A family goes out to dinner, but they aren’t making eye contact. The mom and teenage daughter are scrolling social media on their phones while the 5-year-old plays on an iPad.

Parents often choose demanding all-or-nothing jobs for a better paycheck but at the expense of quality family time in the evenings and on weekends.

Spouses are unfaithful because they feel neglected.

Children frequently misbehave because they aren’t getting enough positive parental attention. Or they sit indoors for hours, watching TV.

If parents get really clear on their personal and family values, it makes other decision-making much easier.

Imagine a world marked by loving, attentive parents. Addictions fall away because they aren’t trying to numb the pain or escape real life. They work hard at their jobs but not at the expense of family; they know when to turn it off. Parents model sound financial decision-making.

Married couples communicate openly about issues and work together towards a resolution. Spouses complement one another.

Children feel validated and safe. Kids willingly ride bikes around the neighborhood and prefer to play board games over video games.

Wouldn’t this be wonderful? It’s possible, and it starts with your family.

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