“Finding The Optimal Balance – Lessons From a NYC Commuter”
Navigating these markets is much like my 30-minute bike commute to work every day through the streets of Manhattan (see video above in 6 min version). Every twist and turn is a split-second reassessment of risk versus reward. Your mind is constantly evaluating speed, risk, braking, volatility, potholes, shifting terrain and anticipating sudden obstacles either human or natural. The key here is to be highly alert and active. Activity is the only way to find the optimal balance. It not only leads to much safer outcomes, but also leads to better health. In the end, you will arrive at your destination safely and it gives you the satisfaction that you are in charge of your journey. These lessons apply directly to how I approach investing, which is the basis for successful long-term financial advice.
What do successful market practitioners need when they dive into these markets?
Well, it starts with the proper equipment and tools. My equipment of choice when I leave my apartment on the upper East-side of Manhattan is my Dahon-Mariner bike. I love this bike! It is compact, foldable, it has 8 speeds (just right!), it has a highly nimble but strong aluminum frame, and above all costs half of what some other higher end brands cost. If your ‘tool’ for navigating these financial markets is a financial advisor follow these same principles: beware of high cost advisors, be suspicious of advisors pushing “passive” investing, find an advisor who is nimble and not too rigid when it comes to advice-giving. All advisors must demonstrate a deep proficiency in their tools of trade, but the good ones possess the intellectual honesty to know when they are wrong and change course when the facts have changed.
I launched “The Trusted Navigator” to share insights and observations on markets and investing, based on my 30-year experience as a banker, institutional portfolio manager and now advisor to private clients at C.J. Lawrence. Hopefully it will give you an insight into how we apply our trade.
Why “The Trusted Navigator”? I was always fascinated with the concept of navigation. According to a legendary adventurer1, there are five characteristics of an expert navigator. I believe these same characteristics apply to successfully investing:
- Equipped with the proper tools
- Proficiency in the understanding of these tools
My fascination with navigation began in 1970, when at age five my parents moved our family across the Atlantic from Bonn, West-Germany to Washington D.C. where my father spent the next 25 years at the World Bank. My Grandfather, did the same in 1927 when he boarded a freight ship in Germany and headed for New York City.
With little money and no formal education, the idea was “to gain work experience” in the new world. He began doing odd jobs like washing dishes to various jobs as an office boy. He learned the language quickly and soon landed a job at a fish-tackle distributor and travelled to all corners and the smallest towns in America to sell his goods. A year after his arrival in New York, he sent for his fiancé, who he married within days of her arrival in New York harbor (she is in the bottom right row in the picture). As a result, my father and aunt were born in Manhattan at Lenox Hill hospital in the 1930s. So began our family’s history in New York!
When I started working in New York in 1993 for Deutsche MorganGrenfell/C.J.Lawrence (the long name for Deutsche Bank at the time) followed by 16 years at ISI Group, the circle was complete. The connection to New York has obviously not only shaped my family’s life, but also how I navigate through the ever-shifting financial markets. I believe this perspective gives me an edge when giving financial advice to private and institutional investors. I hope you will follow “The Trusted Navigator” on your way to becoming an expert navigator!
Notes: 1 Andrew Skurka, the 35-year-old is most well-known for his solo long-distance backpacking trips, notably the 4,700-mile 6-month Alaska-Yukon Expedition, the 6,875-mile 7-month Great Western Loop, and the 7,775-mile 11-month Sea-to-Sea Route. In total, he has backpacked, skied, and packrafted 30,000+ miles through many of the world’s most prized backcountry and wilderness areas—the equivalent of traveling 1.2 times around Earth’s equator!
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