Personal Finance

Classic financial lessons from the experts

It’s been a great year for me. In early January I made the cover of Advisor’s Edge – a national financial magazine, I found out I had the best mark in the country on the November 2013 sitting of my final CFP exam, and I qualified to be an MDRT member for the second year in a row. Since then, I’ve been asked to contribute to this wonderful site, and MDRT’s magazine Round the Table had a quick snippet of me in their media section.

Most recently, Manulife called to do a story on me in their Horizons magazine. One of the questions in the interview was about whether I was going to write a book. I guess I’ve always considered it as a life goal, and I’ve always been interested in writing, but I never would have considered it now, not at this point in my career. I don’t feel like I have any unique viewpoint, a magic solution, or a fundamental breakthrough to share with the world. Everything I say has been said before. Here are some classic financial lessons from other experts in the financial industry

Long term investing

My mentor Brad Brain always made a point that long term investing is the only kind of investing. If you’re putting money into the markets with a short term time frame, then you’re a speculator, not an investor. Long term, in this sense, is generally defined as 5 years or more. Many great leaders – iconic investors – speak on the importance of investing with a long-term mindset.

  • “We don’t have to be smarter than the rest. We have to be more disciplined than the rest” – Warren Buffett
  • “They find themselves switching in and out of stocks, feeding the brokers instead of themselves.” – Charles Brandes
  • “Games are won by players who focus on the playing field – not by those whose eyes are glued to the scoreboard.” – Warren Buffett
  • “The investor’s chief problem – even his worst enemy – is likely to be himself.” – Benjamin Graham
  • “Great investors are not unemotional, but are inversely emotional – they get worried when the market is up and feel good when everyone is worried” – Ben Miller

Buy and hold is a strategy for the long term and the only way to invest. Anything else is not investing – it’s speculating. I believe this wholly, and I embrace it within my practice.

Investing with a purpose

There are a lot of very intricate aspects of investing, and finding a good investment is just the cusp. Building a portfolio embedded with purpose and based on your goals should be foremost. It is much more valuable to focus on the foundation and structure of your investment portfolio than the micromanagement of the individual securities. Defining and monitoring target correlation, value at risk, target asset allocation, concentration risk, and cash-flow needs are some of the ways that we use investment planning to guide investment results.

  • “It’s not supposed to be easy. Anyone who finds it easy is stupid.” – Charlie Munger
  • “Know what you own, and know why you own it.” – Peter Lynch
  • “You only have to do a very few things right in your life so long as you don’t do many things wrong” – Warren Buffett
  • “Successful investment may become substantially a matter of techniques and criteria that are learnable, rather than the product of unique and incommunicable mental powers” – Benjamin Graham

A structured approach to building an investment portfolio not only provides the peace of mind of knowing you have a reason for doing what you’re doing, but it also has the tangible benefit of removing the malicious emotions from your investment decisions which can otherwise lead to debilitating mistakes. A well-defined and strictly adhered-to investment plan designed in support of your financial goals is one of the best ways to ensure that you reach those goals.

The importance of insurance

Building a financial plan and accumulating assets is very important, but if you lose your most valuable asset – your ability to earn an income – then it may be all for naught. Insurance helps to protect what you’re working so hard to accumulate before you accumulate it. It is a powerful, tax-efficient, and effective way to build a life raft under those you love. We focus our insurance planning on making sure clients understand what insurance can do for them so they can make an educated decision on how they’d like to protect the things they care about the most.

  • “But the fact is he died and he faded from view, and all that he left here when living was through, was a mountain of things he intended to do, tomorrow.” – Edgar Guest
  • “Life insurance is time. The time a man might not have. If he needs time, he needs life insurance” – Ben Feldman
  • “If people understood what life insurance does, we wouldn’t need salesmen to sell it. People would come knocking on the door. But they don’t understand.” – Ben Feldman
  • “Only when the tide goes out to do you discover who’s been swimming naked” – Warren Buffett
  • “Life expectancy is not synonymous with health expectancy” – author unknown
  • “You haven’t done anything wrong. You just haven’t done anything, and that’s what’s wrong” – Ben Feldman

The biggest impediment to recovery is stress, and most often that’s financial stress. Life & health insurance can be incredible tools to relieve this stress, and both the financial and emotional impact of insurance needs to be considered by anyone who has something they care about but not the resources to replace it on their own. Sure, you never want to be the one claiming on an insurance policy – but the alternative is unimaginable.

Ethics & Planning

A financial plan is more than an investment structure, it’s the financial expression of the people involved in it. It’s more than just numbers on paper; it’s about becoming the person you’ve always been meant to be. A financial plan envelops your goals – insurance and investments are only the tools that can help you achieve them. I believe in financial planning, and I love what I do. The most wonderful feeling in the world is to do something you love, to know that you are making a huge positive impact on the lives of others, and to be able to make a living doing it.

  • “The best thing a human being can do is to help another human being know more.” – Charlie Munger
  • “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill
  • “It takes twenty years to build a reputation and five minutes to ruin it.” – Warren Buffett
  • “A mistake of the mind is acceptable. A mistake of the heart is not.” – Duncan Beard (January 2, 2014, MDRT page a day calendar)
  • “The goal is not to do business with people who want what you have, the goal is to do business with people who believe what you believe” – Simon Sinek

No, today I’m not thinking of writing a book. Today I am turning financial lessons from other experts into action. Today I am creating a distinction. Today I am living it.


  1. Donna Doucette

    My husband is fully retired (71) and I am semi-retired (60). Living in the Hamilton, Ontario area we need a “retirement specialist”. Our previous advisor retired and left all the clients someone who you never hear from so we now have most of our holdings in cash equivalents doing not too much. Is there a really trust worth advisor/planner that you know? do you yourself advise?

    • Meagan Balaneski

      Hey Donna, sorry it’s taken me so long to reply, I haven’t been checking my comments are regularly as perhaps I should. I believe there are absolutely trust worthy advisors out there, often investors just need to know the right place to look. I’m not licensed in Ontario, but I would encourage you to check out the R.F.P designation website, including their find a planner tool Thanks!

  2. bericm

    Thank you for a great article, especially “investing with purpose”. You’ve got to know why you are doing what you are doing, or figure it out before the money runs out.

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