What I’ve Learned In 20 Years As An Advisor

What I’ve Learned In 20 Years As An Advisor

March 18, 2020

Experience is the best teacher. You can get years of education and top-notch training for whatever it is you do, but it’s not until you get your feet wet in the day-to-day aspects of your job that real-life learning happens. Now that I’ve been a financial advisor for 20 years, I want to share with you the most important financial lessons I’ve learned.

Learn From The Past

No one wants to dwell on past mistakes or negative events, but if we don’t apply what we learned from those situations, we’re doomed to repeat them. And while no one wants to repeat the devastating losses of the market crashes of 1999 and 2007, we are once again experiencing wild volatility, record drops, and the beginnings of what many are calling the next recession. I’ve seen a lot of market ups and downs these past two decades, and I know from experience that managing expectations is the key to getting through leaner times. We’ve survived past recessions, and we’ll survive this one too. 

Since we can’t predict the market, all we can do is set our money up to succeed. That looks like managing risk and making smart money moves. For example, looking at the investments that did well during and after the previous recessions and diversifying your portfolio to add some of them in. In 2008, when the S&P 500 dropped by around 30%, gold was up by about the same amount. (1) A physical commodity that can hold value is a good bet. Or maybe consider adding some low-volatility stocks, which, when the dotcom bubble burst in 2000-2002, gained in value when most other stocks were losing value. (2)

Another thing we’ve learned from the past is that selling when the market drops is never a good idea. Where many people go wrong in volatile times like these is selling near the bottom of a bear market, staying on the sidelines during a good portion of the recovery, and then jumping back in closer to the next top. Put that together, and you not only lose money but also lose out on potential growth and compound interest from the time you were out of the market. If you are a ways away from retirement, it’s an ideal time to buy and one day reap the benefit of the recovery. Good quality stocks are significantly down from their highs, meaning you have the opportunity to snap up some bargains. Focus on securities that have held up well during this downturn, since those tend to be the leaders in the recovery.

A Note On Risk

Since the Great Recession of 2007-2009, plenty of DIY investing solutions have cropped up, but robo-advisors and online investing websites are now experiencing their first downturn. A lot of people are trusting in these companies and strategies to achieve their long-term goals and aren’t set up to weather market storms. When I started my career in 1999, prospects were asking me if I could guarantee them greater than 15% annual returns. Now, after being lulled into complacency with our previous record-long bull market, people expect way more than that, carry far too much risk, and are downright panicking about our current market state. 

No matter what our markets do in the future, it’s crucial for you to have a diversified portfolio that is aligned with your time horizon and personal risk tolerance. Create an investment strategy that is focused on long-term sustainability, not short-term gains, and stay calm when the headlines shout negativity.

Saving = Success

Yes, you want your money to grow, and it would be incredibly difficult to reach your savings goals without the help of compound interest, but you have to put the money in to see that growth. I’ve found that the clients who were most committed to saving as early and often as they could were the ones who reached or surpassed their goals. 

This will require sacrifice and intention, but the payoff will be worth it. Cut back on expenses, channel a healthy percentage of any raises and bonuses directly to savings, and automate savings increases of 1% of your paycheck every few months. It may not seem like you are making much of an impact, but every dollar helps. 

Lower Those Taxes

A lot of people don’t realize they have some level of control over how much they pay in taxes. Taxes are a necessary part of living in a democratic country, but that doesn’t mean you need to fork over more of your hard-earned money than you have to. 

Whether it’s strategically using your 401(k), traditional IRA, and Roth IRA to lower your current taxable income or lessen your tax burden in retirement, or looking into non-traditional savings vehicles, like health savings accounts (HSAs) or donor-advised funds (DAFs) to maximize your tax savings, you have options. 

Enlist The Help Of A Professional

Even with the sheer amount of information online, you just can’t replicate the experience and expertise a financial professional brings to your situation. Even if you are well-versed in the financial world and know a lot about investing, remember that your finances don’t exist in a bubble. Working with an independent fiduciary advisor who offers comprehensive services ensures every part of your financial puzzle works together to get you to your goals. 

Contact us at (626) 529-8347 or email Ricky directly at ricky@hbawealth.com if you want to work with advisors who have the experience and knowledge to optimize your finances and help you thrive through any market cycle. 

About Haydel, Biel & Associates

Haydel, Biel & Associates is an independent financial advisory firm serving individuals and families near Pasadena, California. The firm was founded in 2004 by Chris Haydel and Ricky Biel with a desire to provide unbiased, client-centered, community-based financial advice. Together, they have built a practice that has grown into a family of caring, smart professionals committed to blending proven investment methodologies with creative financial technologies that make it easier than ever to accomplish your goals. They strive to keep things simple and fun to give their clients peace of mind and alleviate financial stress. HBA Wealth takes care of their clients’ needs first and foremost and goes the extra mile to make their clients’ finances grow. To meet and see how the HBA Wealth team may be able to help, contact them today at (626) 529-8347 or email Ricky directly at ricky@hbawealth.com.

The commentary on this blog/website reflects the personal opinions, viewpoints and analyses of the Haydel Biel & Associates employees providing such comments, and should not be regarded as a description of advisory services provided by  Haydel Biel & Associates or performance returns of any Haydel Biel & Associates Investments client. The views reflected in the commentary are subject to change at any time without notice. Nothing on this website constitutes investment advice, performance data or any recommendation that any particular security, portfolio of securities, transaction or investment strategy is suitable for any specific person. Any mention of a particular security and related performance data is not a recommendation to buy or sell that security. Haydel Biel & Associates manages its clients’ accounts using a variety of investment techniques and strategies, which are not necessarily discussed in the commentary. Investments in securities involve the risk of loss. Past performance is no guarantee of future results.


(1) https://www.cnbc.com/2016/01/22/the-assets-that-do-best-in-a-market-downturn.html

(2) https://money.com/investing-shocks-stock-market-volatility/