This was written almost two years ago. Some things have changed. I am a CFP now and I still work with Superheros. And some things haven’t changed: I love Mondays.
*iPhone alarm goes off*
If I don’t get out of bed in the first 15 minutes of that sound, the alarm might as well be sleeping too.
So I grab my AirPods and water bottle like clockwork and hit the gym.
I try to squeeze an hour of uninterrupted studying in. The CFP exam is around the corner and I still have so much to learn.
My first appointment of the day.
It’s not always verbatim, but the question stands:
“Ok. So why should I work with you?”
How do you answer that?
That question is twofold:
Why should I work with you? And why do I need someone like you, a financial advisor, in my life?
But if you’ve read How I Invest My Money you’d know that beneath every one of us is a 2 AM campfire that refuses to go out. I can’t recommend this book enough. This is one of my favorite ‘finance’ books because it wasn’t just about how these prominent financial titans invest their own money, it’s also about why they do what they do. If you’re ever debating working with a financial advisor, read Leighann Miko’s chapter.
I believe that I am where I am today because I was predisposed to help people. Especially people much older than I am. I guess you could say it’s in my blood. Over the course of my childhood, so many amazing people have extended their hand to me, even though they knew I had nothing to give them in return. And what’s worse is that with some of them all I did was show distrust or even barked back at them. It truly hurts to know that the ones that I wish could read this today never will.
But for the ones who can, I hope they read this someday.
If I could, I would tell my father, I’m really not sure where we fell off. In the past, it’s always been so easy for me to open up to strangers. I assumed they’d never think twice about our interaction. But when it came to people I knew were going to be in my life, by choice or force, I would always have a hard time being open, honest, or emotional around them.
Our conversations were never long. They didn’t even contain any real substance. But today, what I didn’t know then that I know now, is that below the surface there was incremental progress happening that only time would reveal.
I’m not sure if I’ll ever speak to you again. I’m not even sure if you’ll ever see this. But if I could speak to you today, I’d tell you that I never blamed you. I never thought my life was “your fault.” I never asked your brother or sister who my parents were or why they didn’t work out? I didn’t question it; I simply knew life for what it was. Admittedly, I did wonder, “what was wrong with me? Why wasn’t I good enough?”
What I’m trying to say –and what I wish I told my disgruntled younger self – is, I don’t fault you. No. I don’t fault you because you did the hardest thing I’ve ever known. You put your pride aside and admitted, ‘I cannot do this alone. But I know someone who can.’ And you gave the responsibility to the one woman who you knew would do a better job than anyone else on Earth. Your own mother.
And 20-some years later, whether you know it now or not, I can say that you were right. I still find myself thinking about her, as I’m sure you do too.
I feel like we all start off as this small mountain of clay on a spinning pottery wheel. Our choices and mistakes sculpt our character. But it’s the belly-aching laughs, the tears, and the details in those choices that define us. And you wear those lessons learned, as my colleague said to me, as a badge on your chest or a chip on your shoulder.
I guess what I’m trying to say is, I love you. Not for what you should have done, or for who you should have been. That’s like you saying you wouldn’t love me for all the things I also should have done. I should have tried harder to get into Columbia University, paid more attention at football practice. I should stop obsessing over whether I’m going to be successful in my career or not. I should call my brother and sister more. I should have said, “I love you” more often to the people in my life that were taken too soon.
As time passes, I realized my biggest regret is not having the time to apologize to all the people I wasn’t myself around.
It may sound silly to some, but after 20-odd years, I finally learned what it means to love myself.
For a split second, that same feeling of ‘why‘ still goes through my body before every appointment. But this time, in a new form of insecurity. Being a Black professional in this industry, I do wonder if the people on the other end would rather be working with someone else. Someone who looks more like them. Someone who can share similar stories.
I have many, many, years left in my career. In reality, I just started. Many of our clients are in their late stages of life — planning for the inevitable. My colleagues know even better than I that the sad reality is that we will be here when they are no longer smiling and enjoy the (always-taken-for-granted) belief that there will be another day. I hate death. Some days I feel like I’m almost too familiar with the concept. But in this line of work, I know it’s inevitable to face. Which is a great reminder that these tiny stressors of life are pointless. Our older, much wiser, clients remind me every day to enjoy this moment.
When you’re working with Ritholtz advisors, we’re not just human calculators who can optimize how many years you should pay off your mortgage. No. When you’re working with me or one of my colleagues, you’re working with someone who doesn’t have to be told to be a fiduciary. It’s in our blood.
When you’re working with me, you can be assured that I keep all of this in mind at all times.
To tell you the truth, I don’t know if I have an answer as to why you should work with me. Because I just want to be great at what I do. Maybe more, but certainly nothing less.
Time to start our firm-wide meeting.
I love this time because I get to (virtually) see all my co-workers in one place. These days it feels like there’s a new face every month. I was once the new kid on the block. Wondering how I would ever stack up to the rest of these superheroes.
But more so, I enjoy this time because Josh always goes off on his monologue that becomes so inspirational. To remind us all, week in and week out, this is why we do what we do.
I love Mondays.