CEO/Investment Advisor Representative
Al·tru·ism /ˈaltro͞oˌizəm/ noun : The belief in or practice of selfless concern for the well-being of others.
Years ago, I started a company called Money Coach Group to help those in financial distress get on their feet. It was hard dealing with folks overburdened by debt, or had imminent or recent foreclosures, repossessions, bankruptcies. But it was incredibly rewarding.
A funny thing happened. As I got these folks on their feet, and commanded “Find an advisor! Go forth and invest, catch up on lost time!”, they always came back.
“Bill, nobody will take us, because we don’t have $300,000 yet.”
“Bill, you said to keep our finances simple. We can’t understand a word they’re saying!”
“Bill, you said to avoid annuities and whole-life, they’re pushing those like a time-share!”
“Bill, you said to avoid fees. They had to pull out a calculator when we asked how much!”
The old-school fee structure that most advisors use motivates them to focus on high-net worth clients (see my post here for more). What about regular folks? It upset me. Actually, I noticed that same fee structure is very unfair to those who have more assets! It challenged my altruism. The temptation was to say, “Oh well, they’re rich.” But it wasn’t fair, it wasn’t within the fiduciary standard, and it bothered me.
That’s why I started Emancipare, an inexpensive, flat-fee, fee-only fiduciary life/FIRE/retirement planner and investment/financial advisor.
My earliest memory of personal finance is peeking through my bedroom door to see why my mother was crying. She was often at the kitchen table trying to do the bills late at night, after our bedtime stories and “good-night-God-bless-you-I-love-you rituals.” I was 17. Just kidding, about 7. I think.
One day in school, during home economics class (the choice of this elective resulted in quite a hard time in the hallways and locker rooms), I learned how to budget and balance a checkbook. I ran home to Mom, the secrets of the Holy Grail of personal finance gushing from my mouth before I could even slam the screen door and get yelled at for it.
It was a game-changer for Mom, and I felt like a geeky version of the superheroes in my treasured comic books. I annoyed my friends’ parents, relatives, and rando patrons at the luncheonette where I sat and read my comics (early money hack, read for free until chased out by the proprietor).
We were blue-collar. No money for college. Nobody had ever gone. Dad said, “Oh, fancy boy wants to go to college!” I enlisted in the Air Force, and spent my years teaching my barracks-mates those secret tricks, and giving fiery speeches about the evils of the car dealers lurking just off base, with their inflated MSRPs and high-interest loans “for your service to our country.”
I used my GI Bill for college and got my degree. Spent years in the corporate world to support my family, and helping all takers with their family finances on the side. Frugality and practicing what I was preaching paid off, and I retired early. But, you have to do something with your time, right? Helping others is my passion, so this is what I do, on my terms. And it’s why I still help folks who are struggling with debt, as well as those in or near financial independence :-)