This year marks my 30th year in the investment business and what a long strange trip it’s been.
My last semester at the University of San Diego I took an investment course with a young, energetic, and entertaining investment professor. His knowledge about investing was second to none and he taught our class how to apply our learning to the real world of investing. His course changed my career trajectory.
I was living the good life as a college student. I lived in Mission Beach with the beach on one side and the bay on the other. My roommate at the time was in the same investment class.
After graduation I was working for Bank of America in downtown San Diego processing loans for residents of Orange County. My roommate took a job as a stockbroker with a penny stock firm. The stock market closed at 1:00 and on most days he’d call my office to let me know he was going to the beach. He was going to the beach at 1:30 and I wasn’t getting home until 7:30. I asked, “Jim, did you make any money today?” His response, “Bill, I’m always making money!”
The thought of making money and going to the beach at 1:30 was too much to pass up so I called a former roommate whose dad was managing a small office for Spelman & Company in Rancho Bernardo. His dad told me if I passed the series 7, he’d hire me as a stockbroker. I borrowed some old series 7 training manuals and studied for a couple of months. I passed the exam with a score of 70.3! I was later told that the lower your score on the series 7, the better your odds of succeeding in the business.
Once I received my results, I resigned from Bank of America. My first official day on the job was May 8, 1989. My friend’s dad was an incredible mentor and it was an honor to work at his side. To get clients I spent most of my day cold calling with municipal bonds.
A few months later I moved back to Los Angeles to start working with Dean Witter in Pasadena. I went through their training program in April 1990. Like my job in San Diego I spent most of my day cold calling for new business. In addition to municipal bonds I added preferred stocks to the mix, and I’d dial the phone morning, noon and night – about 300 to 400 times a day, including Saturdays. My source of leads was the Criss Cross Directory. The early 90s was a great time to cold call because there was no caller ID, cell phones, or internet to interfere with my mission. To increase my odds of success I’d find a local bond paying 7% or more – tax free! My standard script went something like this: “Hello Mrs. Jones, My name is Bill Parrott and I’m calling from Dean Witter in Pasadena. The reason for my call today is that the City of Arcadia has just issued a new tax-free bond paying 7%. Would you like to hear more about it?” I repeated this process throughout the day. For a moment in time, I was the number one trainee in my class.
At Dean Witter I was blessed to work with another incredible mentor, a gentleman who’s been on the Barron’s 100 list of top advisors each year it’s been published. After hours we were often the only two left in the office and we’d go to lunch on several occasions. I’d pick his brain about the business at every opportunity.
My mentors taught me more than investments, however. They taught me how to treat clients with respect and to put their interests above mine. I learned much by watching and listening to how they conducted themselves daily. Their wisdom, teachings and examples are still with me today.
On May 8, 1989 the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at 2,376. It has since risen 933% to 24,553, averaging 8.17% per year – before dividends for the past 30 years! Despite the long-term success of stocks, each year, including this one, forecasters have called for the market to drop because it’s overvalued. In fact, the first year I started in the business one large producer told me to sell stocks and buy silver. I didn’t take his advice, thankfully.
During my career I worked in California, Connecticut and Texas. After Morgan Stanley and Dean Witter merged, I joined the management pool; managing offices in New Haven, CT and Austin, TX. A few years after leaving Morgan Stanley I joined a large discount brokerage firm to work with executives, attorneys, pilots and doctors across the country. I spent a good deal of time in hotels and airports.
When I turned 50, I started my own company. My daughter was leaving for college and I thought if I don’t start my company now, I never will. It was a leap of faith. We live by faith, not by sight ~ 2 Corinthians 5:7.
My firm is doing well and growing. I’ve had the benefit of working as an independent advisor, a wire-house broker, and an order taker. The independent channel is, by far, the best of them all. The relationships I have with clients are much deeper and more authentic than the other channels.
It’s been a great run and I’ve been blessed beyond measure. Here are a few tips I’ve learned over the past three decades.
- Family and friends come first. I’ve been blessed with an amazing wife, a beautiful daughter, loving parents, and incredible sisters.
- Time in the market trumps timing the market. The long-term trend in the market will give you an opportunity to create wealth for you and those you love. Don’t try to trade the market daily because you’ll lose more often than you’ll win.
- Turn out the noise. As I mentioned, every year, for the past 30 years, “experts” have been telling me the stock market is overvalued. If I listened to any of these individuals, I’d have missed the historic rise in stocks.
- Diversify your portfolio. Diversification is the only free lunch on Wall Street. Stocks, bonds and cash will help you grow and protect your assets over time. All three will play a part in your wealth journey at some point.
- Invest internationally. About half of the global stock market capitalization is found in companies outside of our borders.
- Have a plan. Financial planning will help you create wealth. Your plan will quantify and prioritize your financial goals.
- Rebalance your accounts. At the beginning of each calendar year, review your asset allocation. If it’s out of whack with your risk level, adjust your portfolio.
- Eliminate your debt. Debt is a four-letter word and it’s a killer. Too much debt will keep you from reaching your financial dreams.
- Giving money away to help others has multiple benefits. It will make you happier, reduce your taxes, and assist those who receive your gift. It’s a win-win-win.
- We live on a beautiful planet with amazing things to see and do. Get outside and enjoy your life.
Thirty years have gone by in a blink of an eye. Between classes and jobs, my friends and I would sit on the beach and ponder our future. I’m happy to report we’ve all done well, and, more importantly we’re still friends. Life is good.
May He give you the desires of your heart and make all your plans succeed. ~ Psalm 20:4
January 22, 2019
Bill Parrott is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management located in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose.
Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ than those posted in this blog.