Well, folks, this is our final show, and I want to wrap up my long tenure by sharing some of the most important lessons I have learned over these many years.
First, however, I want to thank everyone currently involved in its production. First, there is Brian Zeikowitz, my engineer. Brian has been with me since 2008 and, poor guy, he’s been listening to every word of the show, every week, to make sure I sound much smarter than I am. As a matter of fact, when we were discussing the show’s end, he reminded me of a story I told which made an impression on him, and it’s one that I had totally forgotten. So I would like to share it with you.
Back in 1987, I had been a stockbroker for six years, working at Merrill Lynch at the time and was still struggling to get on my feet and build a clientele. Of course, you may remember that 1987 turned out to be a very challenging year because of the 25% market crash on October 22nd. This crash was totally unexpected and reminded everyone of the 1929 Stock Market Crash which ushered in the Great Depression. So everyone was scared and shaken. Unfortunately, I was a casualty of bad timing because on October 1st, I had closed on a new, bigger home and my costs had risen dramatically. That year and the few that followed created a tsunami of events for me, a combination of high expenses combined with lower income similar to what is going on with a lot of folks today due to the Covid-19 crisis.
In order to keep everything going, I used my credit cards and any other debt I could muster to stay afloat. And I was not alone. A lot of my fellow brokers in the business were in trouble too and some of them decided to file for bankruptcy the following year. I was tempted. It was easy to do, and I noticed that those who did were still able to get a loan to buy cars and other things and it didn’t seem like it had much in the way of serious consequences.
So, I thought hard about it and finally decided not to do it, though it would have relieved me of much pressure and anxiety. My reasons? First and foremost, I felt I owed this money and it should be paid back. Now I know it’s not possible for everyone to adopt this attitude, but I was still earning a living and slowly building a clientele, and I had hope that this difficult time would eventually improve. I hoped it wouldn’t turn out to be a race to the finish however, so it was pretty nerve-wracking.
Also, I didn’t really know what the true future effects of a bankruptcy would be. There’s a lot of unforeseen consequences that can happen when you make big decisions like that.
So, here’s my point to the story. Eight years later, in 1996, after being so unhappy with the sales culture of the brokerage business, I desperately want to change the way I did business.
Fortunately, an opportunity arose which allowed me to start my own fee-only financial planning and advisory business and create my own culture. However, there was one caveat and guess what that was? In order to head up a firm as an investment advisor, I would not have been allowed had I declared bankruptcy. Wow, I thought, I really missed that bullet!
All that followed, a business that I loved, my great clients, and this radio show, would not have happened had I taken the other course of action.
So, the bottom line is: You never know what the consequences would have been for me had I taken the easier way out.
Okay, before I get into today’s commentary, I want to thank a few people who have been a tremendous help to me. First, my producer, Erica Stimolo. We are a small operation here, and Erica is the chief cook and bottle washer, and I have relied on her common sense to help guide me week after week. Happily, Erica has accepted a new position with my former investment firm and all will be okay. My editor, Carol Malzone, who is also my partner in life, has transported our websi