Luck versus skill. I talk about this a great deal as it relates to investing, but today I want to write quickly about my life, how incredibly lucky I am to be where I am today and three of my most important mentors/influencers that helped get me here.

It was 2006, I was 32 years old, working at as an Equities Trader in downtown Manhattan. While I could say I was moderately successful in my first decade in the “real world,” I was also very much a lost soul, knowing my current career was on its path to being obsolete (with advances in computerized high frequency trading) but, more importantly, realizing that what I was doing with my life was in no shape personally fulfilling.

On my way home, I stumbled into a Barnes & Noble in Hoboken, NJ, found myself in the Finance section, thinking about picking up another stock trading book. Instead, for some unknown “lucky” reason, a book titled “The Successful Investor Today: 14 Simple Truths You Must Know When You Invest Today”, written by Larry Swedroe, caught my eye, and I bought it.

This one book provided the initial inspiration I needed to decide to couple my love and “expertise” in Finance with my desire to follow my mom’s footsteps and teach in some capacity and to pursue a path to become a Financial Planner. Larry has become my greatest influence and resource with respect to Portfolio Management and Investment Research. He introduced me to Dimensional Funds in 2006, and the idea that there may be a better way to invest passively than to merely invest in traditional index funds. And, speaking of Larry and Dimensional Funds, here is a recent blog post written by him, highlighting the futility of active managed funds (vs passive) and the relative out-performance of many of the DFA funds you hold vs their Vanguard counterparts.

The Battle of the Passive Strategies

Next, I was at a friend’s house telling him of my newly inspired plans for the future. He pulled a book off his book shelf (he was once an advisor) titled, “The New Financial Advisor Today,” by Nick Murray. He could have handed me a book on why Gold is the investment of the future (it’s not) or how selling insurance based products leads to the most lucrative careers or something else that would have sent me down the wrong path. Instead he handed me a book by an author who has become my greatest mentor in the Financial Advisory realm. Nick Murray’s timeless wisdom and counsel have shaped much of who I am as an advisor, and I am forever grateful to have been introduced to him at the start of my career as opposed to doing things “the wrong way first.” Here is one of my very favorites from one of my greatest mentors.

Rebecca’s Riverkeepers

Finally, a lot can be said about Twitter. I once read, “I’m not sure exactly what meditation is, but I’m fairly confident that the opposite of it is known as Twitter.” That may be true. That said, I am forever grateful that I came across the financial writings of Morgan Housel. His ability to synthesize complex ideas and use fascinating historical stories and relate them to current financial strategies is second to none. I am so lucky to have found him. One of Morgan’s best essays is here.

Solving Hard Problems with Simple Ideas

Luck versus skill. It’s often hard to distinguish between the two. I not sure exactly how “naturally skilled” I am, but I do know I am one of the lucky ones. I am so fortunate to have found these 3 people who have helped shape me into the Financial Planner that I am today. I’m also incredibly grateful (given the theme of this little essay, dare I say lucky?) and extremely proud to have your continued faith and trust to serve you to the best of my ability.

Thank you, and thanks for reading,

Doug

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