Roberta King of Fidelity Investments: “None is ever more influential than your own parents”

The important thing is to have a plan, and revisit that plan especially during times of uncertainty or volatility. By reviewing the plan with a professional (or, if you’re more of a DIY-er, by using a free online tool like our Planning and Guidance Center), you can determine if your investment strategy is appropriate for […]

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The important thing is to have a plan, and revisit that plan especially during times of uncertainty or volatility. By reviewing the plan with a professional (or, if you’re more of a DIY-er, by using a free online tool like our Planning and Guidance Center), you can determine if your investment strategy is appropriate for your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon. Generally speaking, a younger person with a longer time horizon until they need the money they are investing could consider a more aggressive investment strategy than someone nearing retirement, for example, and this will impact the sectors and industries in which they might invest.


As a part of my series about “Investing During The Pandemic,” I had the pleasure of interviewingRoberta King.

Roberta King is a Vice President, Branch Leader of the Fidelity Investments Investor Center located in Columbia Maryland. Fidelity is a leading provider of investment management, retirement planning, portfolio guidance, brokerage, benefits and other financial products and services to more than 32 million individuals, institutions and financial intermediaries. In her role, Roberta is responsible for leading a team of talented investment professionals who advise clients with all aspects of wealth planning.

Starting as a Trader for client accounts, Roberta joined Fidelity in 2005 and over the past 15 years has held a number a leadership and client development positions, being recognized in each for her commitment to successful client outcomes. Roberta received a Bachelor of Science Degree from Iowa State University in Financial Resource Management and a Master of Science Degree from The Ohio State University in Organizational Leadership. She is active in her community with board appointments and youth mentorship. Roberta thrives on her curiosity about people and the world, with a mission of actualizing dreams.


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’ve been a saver ever since I can remember. I recall my mom regularly giving me lunch money as a child in the 90’s — with it I found a simple yet satisfying lunch that I enjoyed but that cost a fraction of the amount given to me each day. I would save the rest of it. One day my mom found all this money in my room and asked me where I got it. I told her “you gave it to me” and she was puzzled. I then explained my lunch story. What is so cool about my mom is that she continued to give me the same amount of money each day and then also taught me about how interest works — I opened my first bank account and I was hooked!

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?

Sometimes the most impactful stories are far from amusing, but provide important lessons. Through engaging with an elderly client, I was reminded of the importance of finding trusted contacts for your family health and wealth conversations. A few years ago, an older woman would visit to talk about a transaction that occurred with her local bank. A few days later, the same, and so on. This happened repeatedly like groundhog day at varying intervals. When I would talk with her, I would attempt to interrupt her bank story script to understand more about her family. I was able to find her son who lived 2,000 miles away and with her permission called him and shared the concern I had observed. He acknowledged that he knew his mother was having memory issues.

A few weeks later, I happened to be at the mall and recognized this same client in the parking garage. She had abandoned her car in the middle of two lanes with oncoming traffic and was blocking the exit for those behind her causing a major back up. It was clear she had forgotten where she was and was now in a dangerous situation. She was being assisted by security officers that just arrived. The next day I called her son to let him know what I witnessed so that he knew the level of risk. I was worried for them — if she is becoming disoriented while driving, what would happen if she were on a freeway? Thank goodness it was only a mall parking garage. The son was appreciative of my call and stated he had not realized the severity of his mother’s situation. He made plans to travel to see her to ensure her safety and care, and later obtained Power of Attorney. It is so important to have a trusted contact involved in your financial and general well-being, which is why I make a point to ask all of my clients (no matter their age), who they plan to debrief with after our planning conversations.

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

It has been critically important right now to focus on how we can deliver the best client experience where we can connect and have meaningful conversations without being in the same room together. The virtual environment has changed how we all work; couple that with the unprecedented economic impact from lockdowns, market volitivity and a health crisis, and it has been necessary to do everything possible to stay connected with our clients and 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?

None is ever more influential than your own parents; every path of success can be drawn back to the values they instilled, opportunism they gave or encouraged, and example they provided. I have been lucky in that respect!

Of course, there are also what I call angels along your path; they intersect your path and may say something or show you something at the right moment. Those “angels” may intersect only once; they can walk with you in parallel, or wander in and out with multiple intersecting points. As I look back, these were my leaders in different locations; building strong relationships and being generous with opportunities for continued growth.

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?

These have been incredibly stressful times for everyone, and it’s certainly not something we ever thought we would have to endure in our lifetime. I’ve found that creating new daily structures in my life has been EVERYTHING! COVID-19 has forced us to relinquish the classic excuse of “I don’t have enough time.” So seize this moment to take a personal inventory of who you are and what you need to nourish and challenge yourself — which usually means doing something hard’ish’. As you spend that reflection time with yourself, ask if you like who you are? Am I on the path of being who I want to be? Depending on those answers, think of really small ways to do something different to gain more life fulfillment.

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 dollars 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?

I would first say that it’s fantastic they’ve been following such a disciplined investment approach despite the recent volatility. It can be difficult to keep a clear head, not to mention difficult to set aside a portion of your income each month for long-term savings. These savings habits are something to celebrate! Depending on this individual’s goals (retirement? College savings for a child or grandchild? Or simply growth towards more flexible goals like a home renovation or new car?), I would work with the client to evaluate whether this approach is right for them. The important thing though, is that they’re making the decision to save and invest for their future, whatever the goal.

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?

The important thing is to have a plan, and revisit that plan especially during times of uncertainty or volatility. By reviewing the plan with a professional (or, if you’re more of a DIY-er, by using a free online tool like our Planning and Guidance Center), you can determine if your investment strategy is appropriate for your goals, risk tolerance, and time horizon. Generally speaking, a younger person with a longer time horizon until they need the money they are investing could consider a more aggressive investment strategy than someone nearing retirement, for example, and this will impact the sectors and industries in which they might invest.

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

First, I would congratulate them on having these dollars that are ready for investing above and beyond their immediate day-to-day needs! Assuming they have a strong emergency savings (ideally 3–6 months of expenses) and have tackled any high-interest debt, and have adequate protections in place from an insurance perspective; I would want to have a conversation about this person’s goals. A “long-term investment” can mean different things to different people, so the right investment strategy would depend on things like the specific time horizon (10 years? 15 years? 30 years?) and intended use (retirement? Down payment on a house? Child’s college education?). These are the types of conversations I have ever day with our clients to help them build a strong financial future.

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?

When it comes to investing this one is the very best…and it is a Warren Buffet Classic.

“Be fearful when others are greedy and greedy when others are fearful.”

From a Macro perspective the measure of fear and greed can be a way to see opportunities not only in the markets but in life. Fear can be an opportunity! It is hard to detach emotions from investing, which can cause you to choose the wrong action at the exact wrong moment. Create a long-term plan and strategy that you can live with though all market cycles.

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

My favorite life lesson quote is my own “We are never lost; I’ve just never been here before.” When I was young and our family would go on road trips, my father would let me be the “Navigator.” This meant I could sit in the front seat (a very big deal as someone with 2 brothers) and he would hand me an atlas of the United States (this was way before Google!) and ask me how to get there. As an adult I’ve found many people are quick to resign themselves to ‘being lost’ both literally and figuratively. I prefer to first take in my surroundings noting the cues that they provide; then understand what direction I came from and, finally, focus my intention on where I would like to go. With this formula you will have the confidence to know that you will never be lost in life again.

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