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MC Stories – What Brain Behavior Teaches us About Investing

What brain behavior teaches us about investing

In the early 2000s, I was walking into a Wells Fargo Bank on San Vicente in Brentwood, CA, when 2 young men briskly walked past us with heavy sweatshirts, dark sunglasses and hats on – it was the middle of summer. I immediately remember thinking that’s odd and got a sinking feeling in my stomach as I entered the branch. I didn’t see anyone until my eyes looked down at the floor and everyone was face down. The bank had just been robbed! I had missed it by only 30 seconds. Thoughts circled my mind and I began to wonder how each person reacted; did they panic? Or play it cool, assuming it would all be over in a matter of minutes? What would I have done in that situation?

I believe the biology of our brain can help explain how we react when we are shocked, worried, scared or panicking. Our brain has three separate parts: the Brain Stem, the Limbic Brain and the Neo-Cortex. The Brain Stem is largely responsible for automatic functions like body temperature, breathing, heartrate, etc. We will call this the lizard brain. The Limbic brain (animal brain) is the seat of our emotions and contains the Amygdala which is responsible for our Fight or Flight response. The Neo-cortex is our “logical” brain and allows us to solve complicated math problems, put a man on the moon and use language.

Over the course of thousands of years, our brain biology has not changed much. In times of heightened emotional angst (i.e. during the COVID-19 pandemic), it’s easy for our fight or flight survival mechanisms to kick in. Our brains are not able to distinguish between a perceived social threat and a physical threat. When the animal and lizard brain are activated, they literally hi-jack the logical brain (neo-cortex) of its ability to think by robbing or redirecting blood flow away from the neo-cortex so that the body can leverage its survival mechanisms.
This can also explain why some intelligent people make emotional mistakes with their money. Of course, no one does this intentionally. I would contend that they get robbed or hijacked. Not by a stranger but by their own brain. The idea of lack of resources (i.e. less money) strikes at the notion of survival on some primitive level and can easily trigger a strong emotional response – almost involuntarily. Would you trust your neighbor’s pet dog or lizard to make financial decisions for you? Probably not. But, invariably that is what we do when we making financial decisions in a heightened emotional state.

What is the prescription to avoid making this critical error:
1. Awareness – recognize your animal/retile brain has taken control (internal dialogue you are having is 1 clue).
2. Acceptance – its ok to feel strong emotions. Don’t try to control them immediately, just accept that you are irritated about the current set of circumstances.
3. Find a Release Valve for the emotion. Remember that Emotion is Energy in Motion. Don’t trap it. Release it by practicing deep breathing, exercise, or take a walk.
4. Talk about what you are feeling and see if you can put words to it – you are moving back into the higher brain by articulating what you feel by engaging the Neo-cortex. Talk to your spouse, friends or your Morton Capital Advisor.
5. Time – Give yourself the gift of time (a minimum of 24 hours or perhaps several days) before making a decision.

So, the next time your amygdala shows up to rob you, you’ll know just how to handle the situation.

Staying Connected During COVID-19 – Webinar #4

Senior Vice President and Wealth Advisor, Joe Seetoo, and Wealth Advisor, Priscilla Brehm, this webinar addressed the following client questions surrounding the latest developments of COVID-19 and its impact on the market:

  • Why is the Federal Reserve buying bonds as part of the newest stimulus package? Emotions often drive decision-making.
  • What behavioral biases should I look out for when making financial decisions?
  • I’ve been told to invest for the long term. What does that mean?
  • What does that mean? How should I invest differently for the short term vs. the long term?

To register for access to these online events and/or submit any questions you would like our Wealth Advisors to answer for you please email us at questions@mortoncapital.com

https://vimeo.com/mortoncapital/stayingconnectedwebinar04142020

We look forward to you joining us on future webinars!

Financial Bites – Budgeting Session Video and Update

The second event in our new Financial Bites lunch series, Budgeting, went off without a hitch. In this session, our advisors honed in on the keys to a successful budget and how to get your financial footing. Thank you to all our attendees as well as our phenomenal wealth advisors, Joe Seetoo and Celia Meagher, who presented.

Our goal is to make this information clear and accessible to everyone. This session focuses on the importance of checking your financial pulse – everything from what savings/spending strategies you should use to the importance of maintaining a good credit score.

Click on the above image or visit this link to watch our budgeting session: https://vimeo.com/mortoncapital/fbbudgeting

We hope you find this video valuable. Please feel free to share this link with family and friends and on your social media channels. Any feedback you have would be extremely valuable to our team, including any recommendations of topics you would like us to present on in the future. Financial Bites is a complimentary series and our upcoming sessions are filling up fast, so we encourage you to RSVP soon. Click on the link below to view all sessions and RSVP today!

https://mortoncapital.com/financialbites

We hope to see you soon and thank you for your continued support of Morton Capital.

The MC Team

Senior Vice President, Joseph Seetoo, recognized as a finalist in the 2018 Trusted Advisors Awards by San Fernando Valley Business Journal.

Congratulations to Senior Vice President Joseph Seetoo, on his becoming a finalist for the San Fernando Valley Business Journal’s Trusted Advisors Awards. This annual event honors attorneys, accountants, business bankers, insurance professionals and wealth managers in the greater San Fernando Valley region for their commitment to high quality client service and overall excellence.

At the award ceremony, hosted on August 9thpublisher Charles Crumpley commented “This event helps to recognize the importance of the relationships they have developed with their clients as they guide them through this complex business environment,” Crumpley said in his opening remarks. “Everyone understands that in these industries, professionals have to help their clients comply with rules and regulations. But it is those rare individuals who do that but also combine market knowledge with superior service to help their clients thrive and achieve. And many of them go way above and make significant contributions to our community.”

We are incredibly proud of Joseph and his relentless pursuit of excellence in both client service, and as a leader within our team. In 2017 Joseph was also awarded the Wealth Management – Trail Blazer Award by the San Fernando Valley Business Journal.

Read more here

Disclosures:

San Fernando Valley Business Journal (“SFVBJ”) Trusted Advisors is an independent listing produced annually by the SFVBJ. The award is based on data provided by individual advisors and their firms. Only advisors who submitted information are included for consideration, and investment returns are not a component of the rankings. The award is based upon a recipient’s application and not upon any qualitative and quantitative criteria relating specifically to one’s position as an investment advisor. As such, the award is not representative of any one client’s experience. This award does not evaluate the quality of services provided to clients and is not indicative of the investment advisor’s future performance. Neither the RIA firms nor their employees pay a fee to the SFVBJ in exchange for inclusion in the Trusted Advisors awards.

Joe Seetoo (Podcast) – The Realities of Selling your Business in a Zero Interest Rate Environment

Joe Seetoo is a Partner and Vice President with Morton Capital Management – a Registered Investment Advisor managing about $1.6 bn in assets under management as of June 30, 2016. As a Certified Financial Planner and Chartered Financial Analyst, Mr. Seetoo has 17 years of experience in developing investment strategies for affluent business owners and high net worth families.
Questions Answered:
1. Why is it important for business owners to do financial planning prior to selling their business?
2. Your firm has a niche in identifying alternative investment strategies – why is that?
3. How can business owners (or any investor) generate sufficient income in Zero interest rate environment after they
sell their businesses?

Disclosures:
Morton Capital Management ($1.6 billion in assets under management (“AUM”) as of June 30, 2016) is registered with the SEC under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940. SEC registration should not be interpreted to mean that Morton Capital or its personnel has been sponsored, recommended or approved, or that Morton Capital’s or its personnel’s abilities or qualifications have been passed upon, by the United States or any agency or office thereof.

The alternative investment opportunities discussed may only be available to eligible clients and involve a high degree of risk. Opportunities for withdrawal/redemption and transferability of interests/shares will be limited, so investors may not have access to capital when it is needed. Additionally, the fees and expenses charged on these investments may be higher than those of other investments.

Barron’s rankings are based on data provided by individual advisors and their firms. The ranking reflects the volume of assets overseen by the advisors and their teams, revenues generated for the firms and the quality of the advisors’ practices. Only firms that submit information are considered.

Past results are no guarantee of future results. Inherent in all investments is the possibility of a loss.