Posts

Mid-Quarter Newsletter – May 2020

The Birth of the Federal Reserve

Global central banks and their unconventional monetary policies have been in the limelight since the financial crisis in 2008. Given the unprecedented actions of the Federal Reserve (aka the Fed) recently, we wanted to give you a closer look into why the U.S. central bank was created and how its mandate came about.

Early attempts to establish a central government bank started as far back as the birth of our country in 1789, but none of those attempts made much headway. By 1860, the need for reliable central financing was clear, as there were nearly 8,000 state banks, each issuing their own paper notes. Thus, the National Banking Act was passed a few years later, which created a uniform national currency and only allowed nationally chartered banks to issue bank notes. The act didn’t, however, create a strong central banking structure. As the industrial economy expanded, the weaknesses of the nation’s decentralized banking system became more pronounced, leading to serious consequences. The 1907 Bankers’ Panic—a three-week financial panic that occurred during an economic recession, where liquidity dried up at local and state banks, causing many of those companies to go bankrupt—fueled a much-needed reform movement.

After six years of debate and negotiations, the Federal Reserve Act was signed into law on December 23, 1913, establishing the Federal Reserve System. Sixty years later, in the early 1970s, unemployment and inflation levels began to rise, reigniting fears of an economic recession. In 1977, Congress enacted the Federal Reserve Reform Act, which explicitly set price stability as a national policy goal for the first time. The very next year, Congress passed the Full Employment and Balanced Growth Act, which established the second policy goal as full employment. Today, price stability and full employment are referred to as the dual mandates of the Fed.

The Fed, along with other global central banks, has responded rapidly and forcefully to the current pandemic crisis. Central bankers clearly want to prevent the pause in economic activity from turning into a permanent solvency crisis and wave of defaults. Many will argue that the Fed’s response goes beyond its mandates—a stance that will be debated for many years to come.


How Business Owners Can Find Opportunities in Chaos
By: Wade Calvert, Wealth Advisor and Partner

While 2020 may seem like a difficult time to be a business owner, there are hidden opportunities to grow in the chaos, especially if you think of opportunity as the ability to make positive changes in your business regardless of what’s going on around you.

Click here to read the article below to learn about five things that every business owner should consider in this environment to capitalize on potential opportunities for growth.


Leadership in a New Workplace
By: Dan Charoenrath, Director of Private Investment Operations

As businesses prepare for a return to work in the coming months, one of the most important questions that every leader must be ready to address is: How do we operate differently to ensure that our people are still engaged and motivated? Beyond questions surrounding how to resume regular operations, we must first consider how we’ll successfully lead our teams through the drastic changes in their work environment. Every person in your organization has been profoundly impacted on an emotional, mental and financial level over the past few months—therefore, it’s unreasonable to expect that we can continue to communicate, direct and inspire them in the same way that we always have. Leading an individual through change can be challenging in and of itself because, by nature, change is uncomfortable for everyone.


Read the full article by clicking here!


New Partners

We are pleased to announce that Wealth Advisor Chris Galeski and Compliance Manager Menachem Striks have become partners at Morton Capital.

 

 

 

 

 

 


Follow Us On Social Media

This year we have focused on updating our social media pages to stay connected as well as provide you with timely tips, videos and advice to help you get the most life out of your wealth. Please click the social icons below to keep up with us on LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Vimeo!

We welcome you to visit our new COVID-19 resources page on our website as well, where you can find trusted and helpful information related to financial planning and replay our entire Staying Connected During COVID-19 webinar series.


Welcome New Team Members: Amber and Benjamin

Amber McBride
Paraplanner

Amber graduated from California State University, Channel Islands, where she studied psychology. She always knew that wherever her career took her, she wanted to help people and solve problems. Before coming to Morton Capital and joining the Financial Planning Team as a paraplanner, Amber worked as a senior paralegal at a law firm specializing in estate planning, trust administration, and tax planning, where she gained nine years of experience. During her downtime, she enjoys traveling, hiking, live orchestral music, and spending time with her family.

Benjamin Markman
Private Investments Administrator

Benjamin Markman joined Morton Capital in July 2019. As a Private Investments Administrator, Benjamin plays a critical role in managing the coordination and administration of a variety of alternative investments. He graduated from the University of Oregon with a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration with a concentration in finance and a minor in economics. Benjamin holds a Series 65 license and is currently studying for the CFA® Level I exam. In his downtime, Benjamin enjoys exercise, playing piano, and chess. 


Oh Babies!

Our MC Family just grew by three! Wealth Advisor and Partner Chris Galeski and his wife, Briana, welcomed a baby girl, Aila Grace, on March 16. Client Service Administrator Carly Powell and her husband, Andrew, welcomed a baby boy, Anderson Eric, on March 27 and most recently, Private Investments Administrator Patrick Garcia and his wife, Pauline, welcomed a baby boy, Presley Grayson, on April 29. We congratulate all three couples on their growing family. Fun fact: this is the first child for each family.

MC Stories – Set it and Forget it

That sound you heard earlier in April, all across America, was the clattering of knives and letter-openers, dropped to the floor by retirement age investors staring at their quarter-end 401(k) statements. What had gone wrong with their “set it and forget it” investment plan?

The “set it and forget it” rhyming aphorism is one among of a bounty of rhymes that give our brains an easy path to perceived truth. These easy paths are known as heuristics, where one might take a shortcut to an answer — when time or interest or resources do not allow for a deeper dive. The first one we all learned was, “An apple a day keeps the doctor away”. Later, on the golf course we were told, “Drive for show, putt for dough”.

This tendency to view rhyming statements as more truthful is known as the Keats Heuristic, a term coined by two psychologists in a 1999 academic paper.* The term is drawn from Keats’ poem Ode on a Grecian Urn ,** wherein Keats concludes, “Beauty is truth, truth beauty,” — where a prettier image or prettier language is perceived to be truer. Academic studies have shown that where two phrases possess similar meanings, a rhyming one will be perceived as
carrying more truth:

“Woes unite foes” is an easier path to the brain than “Woes unite enemies”.

“What society conceals, alcohol reveals” trumps “What society conceals, alcohol unmasks”.

Obviously, this cognitive bias has not gone unnoticed by politicians and corporate marketers. General Eisenhower’s Presidential campaign slogan was “I like Ike”. And before it went out of business in 2019, the Thomas Cook Travel Company’s catchphrase was “Don’t just book it, Thomas Cook it”….All of which leads us to the phrase the financial press has often used to describe Target Date mutual funds: “Set it and forget it.”

Target Date funds (TDF) are most often employed in retirement accounts such as 401(k) plans, where the investor aligns his or her TDF with an expected retirement date. For example, an investor who turned 45 in the year 2000 might have chosen a “2020 Target Date Fund” — 2020 being the anticipated year of age 65 retirement. A fund such as this would begin with a high allocation to the stock market in the early years, and then taper that equity allocation in favor of bonds as the expected retirement year approached. To quote Investopedia: “ The asset allocation of a target-date fund thus gradually grows more conservative as the target date nears and risk tolerance falls. Target-date funds offer investors the convenience of putting their investing activities on autopilot in one vehicle.”

A December 15, 2018 article on MarketWatch offered these comments on Target Date funds: “A good deal of the money in 401(k) accounts is ending up in target-date funds. In fact, more than half of 401(k) accounts hold 100% of their assets in target-date funds, according to third-quarter data from Fidelity Investments. Target-date fund are investments tailored to an individual account holder’s age and retirement year. It’s essentially a ‘set it and forget it’ strategy because the fund will automatically rebalance itself to align with the investor’s age.”

All that sounds good, but many “set it and forget it” investors retiring this year were shocked to see that their 2020 Target Date Fund was not really “conservative”. According to an April 9th Bloomberg News article, the three largest TDF providers — Vanguard, Fidelity, and T. Rowe Price — each had half or more of their TDF 2020 allocation in stocks. T. Rowe Price, at 55% equities, had the highest allocation, and the fund’s return from February 20th to March 20th was a loss of 23%. The loss figures have diminished somewhat in the intervening market rally, but the risk is that when a retiree sees his or her portfolio drop by almost a quarter, there is a panic moment when some retirees will (and some certainly did) cash out and lock in their losses. Had these funds been on a truly more conservative glidepath, the less extreme losses would more likely have kept the otherwise panicked investors in the game.

Even if it does rhyme, there is a certain inadequacy to any “set it and forget it” mentality, particularly when considering how complex and fast-paced the world has become. We see governments and Central Banks attempting new, and radical, responses to economic problems. Just so, thoughtful re-evaluation in the face of changing circumstances should be a part of anyone’s financial plan.

It really is incumbent upon investors to think about (or hire an advisor to help take that deeper dive as to) where we are in economic cycles. While there will always be a divergence of opinion about the future, it is a fact that the U.S. stock market coming into 2020 had had a 10-year bull market, the longest on record. And, as cycles actually do occur, one would have observed the above fact and might have reduced equity allocations — certainly on the eve of retirement and the phasing out of a full paycheck.

Bottom Line: When it comes to investing for retirement, the Keats Heuristic just isn’t realistic.

 

* https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0304422X99000030
** https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/44477/ode-on-a-grecian-urn

MC Stories – Gen Z’s American Dream

For most 20th century Americans, the goal was, have a house with a white picket fence, two kids and a dog named Spot. For their future, they imagined flying cars and holographic images, something you would see in a sci-fi film. For those born between the years of 1997-2015, known as Generation Z, the idea of the “American Dream” has completely evolved from what their parents and ancestors imagined as their measure of success. Today young adults experience a level of connectivity that influences their purchases, investment decisions, and overall interpretation of wealth. Holographic images are a reality, but video calls just seem to be more practical.

Technology Age

The way we communicate has come a long way from the ever famous, “You’ve Got Mail.” While email is still the most prominent form of communication in many professional settings, Millennials and, even more so, Generation Z use text messages and direct messaging as their primary form of communication. Platforms like Twitter have championed the distribution of information in bite-size formats like short passages, videos, and GIFs (brief collages of images and/or text). The rapid-fire of information impacts many decisions being made by young adults, whether they are aware of it or not. Furthermore, the demand for up-to-date information is even higher and affects businesses in all industries. There is now a generation that is not only concerned with their personal style and brand but also the cost to bring their vision to life.

Financial Literacy

Generation Z is regarded as more financially savvy than their big sibling Millennials. Since they were born to Generation X parents, comprised of the do-it-yourself “latch-key kids,” they were raised with the philosophy that nothing will be handed to them. Do your own research and make your own way is the mentality of Gen X. Sometimes the best-orchestrated plan does not work, and you need to have contingencies. That imprint from their parents is what birthed the determined and opinionated Generation Z. They view the world through their personal lens and that of their parents, who have experienced multiple market crashes and withering retirement savings. Gen X parents went to four-year colleges and got the well-paying job (then came the dotcom bubble) and moved out to the suburbs (just before the housing crisis) to start a family. They checked all the boxes in the American Dream checklist and still came up short on the scale of financial security. So, what does that mean for Generation Z?

Wealth Transformation

While previous generations caught on gradually, young adults today make swift moves to take control of their future. These adults have the option of being an “Influencer” as a full-time occupation, which essentially means being a celebrity of social media platforms like YouTube and Instagram. Generation Z has harnessed the demand for instant communication by sharing their opinions on everything over the internet. Coupled with the famous marketing and advertising revenue that businesses have generated for decades, you have yourself a cash cow. There is a level of investment that young adults are putting into themselves that was unheard of for earlier generations. If you can take out a personal loan for an iPhone, ring light, and the aesthetic backdrop of a performing artist’s dressing room, you may be better off now than someone who invested $200,000 in post-graduate education. Both roads are a path to potential success, but the value of success is dependent on the individual.

In Conclusion…

The metrics measure of success is different for every person. Generation Z is not immune to the feelings of financial insecurity, not measuring up to the success of their peers and having doubts about their future. Those feelings are a part of every generation’s coming- of- age story. The important part is to gain awareness along the way. Generation Z was set up for success in the sense that financial literacy is much more prevalent today. Tools to improve daily living or “life hacks” are readily available in a five-minute YouTube video, instead of an eight-week course. Education about how to protect your assets and ensure that you are growing your financial buckets with purpose are all tools that young adults already have in their knowledge bank. The final piece is living a healthy life with enjoyment and purpose. That means: Build bonds that deepen relationships with family and friends. Set goals with your circle and execute them so that the whole group improves their quality of life in this generation and the next. Please stay tuned for future articles about the impact that our culture has on the financial decisions of young adults and future investors.

MC Stories – Finding Calm in the Chaos

What has been your reaction to pandemic news? Perhaps you are instinctively driven to hunker-down and shelter in place with your loved ones. Maybe it’s the opposite – perhaps you are driven to action and do whatever you can to stock up on food and supplies to weather the storm. Perhaps you are somewhere in between. Regardless of where you stand, a crisis affects each one of us differently. It is very personal. That being said, you are not alone!  We are all going through the same collective experience right now, and while the feelings and emotions that arise will be unique to each person, the tools available for working through them are not.  While material concerns are top of mind for many us, there may not be much within our control.  However, we can reconnect with our own internal compass during this time to help us achieve a sense of direction when no external marker exists.

What you do and how you deal with what is in front of you is personal to you. But what happens when it all seems too overwhelming and you find yourself unable to move or act? Perhaps you find yourself crippled with fear, anxiety, or uncertainty of the future. With the amount of news and information constantly coming our way, managing our emotions becomes a daily priority, and we can take small actions that add up to a meaningful change in our ability to regulate ourselves over time.

There are four actions I take whenever life feels out of my control:

  1. Stop. Take a moment where you are and consider that as humans, we are biologically equipped to be adaptable to change.  Assess what you have and what you need. Make a list and focus on accomplishing the small tasks.
  2. Breathe. Bring awareness to your breathing if you start feeling stuck. Start your mornings by spending quiet time journaling, meditating, listening to your favorite music or reading a book that inspires you. Give thanks. Go for a walk.
  3. Focus. Narrow in on where you are and where you want to go. Reach out to friends and loved ones. Use technology as a tool for connecting with others. Choose to see this time as a gift to work on yourself, to work on projects that perhaps you never had time for, or to act in service to others. Take as much time as you need to find your footing and love yourself through the process. Speak positivity and kind words to yourself.
  4. Let go. Accept what you cannot control…Do your best to stay present and know that nothing lasts forever. This too, shall pass.

We are powerful in our ability to care for ourselves.  What small action will you commit to today that moves the needle toward balance in your life?

MC Stories – Identifying Your Relationship With Money

We all have a unique relationship with money. Usually, this association is deep-rooted and developed over time starting from early childhood. Money Scripts are identified as the unconscious beliefs we have about money, often partial-truths, and sometimes they are passed down from generation to generation. Our money scripts tend to correlate certain statistics, such as income, net worth, debt levels, certain financial behaviors, and decision-making processes. Identifying your money script will even provide insights into your current financial health.

There are four core money beliefs (scripts): Money Avoidance, Money Worship, Money Status, and Money Vigilance. You might not just be one of the four, you might be a hybrid of two or three, with dominant characteristics of one. You might even have two money scripts that contradict or be a member of a household where everyone has a different one!

This quick and easy quiz below will get you on your way to observing and identifying yours – plus you can also download and print the quiz here. Once you’ve narrowed down your specific money script, challenge your friends and family to identify theirs as well. Light bulbs might go off on why opposing money scripts tend to make different financial decisions, have different emotions or reactions to events, and how they respond to financial matters entirely!

Now that you’ve sourced your money script, how can you use this newfound knowledge to your advantage? That’s right, being able to identify your money script is not only a powerful (and fun) activity but will also provide you with an awareness that allows room for change if necessary. The adage “Once you can name it, you can tame it” rings true here.


To the high scoring Turtles (9+ points), you are considered a Money Avoider. Deep down you may believe that all money is bad and that you do not deserve to have it. Ignoring your finances and avoiding thinking about money comes naturally to you. Sometimes you may even give money away or sabotage your financial situation in an unconscious effort to not have any money to manage. You may believe that wealthy people are greedy and corrupt and there is something to be said about living with less money, living more simply.

Having this negative association with money and wealth leads to ignoring financial statements that arrive in the mail, overspending, enabling others financially, or finding difficulty in creating or managing an expense budget. Those individuals in the helping professions, such as social workers and psychologists, tend to score higher in this area than those in other professions, such as business or financial advising.

Money avoidance can have a negative impact on your financial health. Below are some tips that can assist you in challenging and changing these beliefs:

  1. Automate your savings plan – creating a schedule where automatic monthly transfers take place into your savings account (without you having to direct it every time) will eliminate you sabotaging or preventing your savings strategy. Include IRA, 401k and other Qualified Accounts in this process – auto transfers or auto contributions will work miracles for you.
  2. Create a quarterly recurring calendar meeting where you sit down to review your financial statements, speak with your advisor, your partner/spouse, and evaluate your financial situation as well as budget. This way, you can’t avoid it completely knowing that you have a firm set date and time to have these conversations.
  3. Re-assess what money can do – how it can be good. Make a list of how money could help you, others, charities, non-profits, donations, philanthropic projects. Recognize how money can be beneficial if put to good use.

To the high scoring Bumblebees (9+ points), you are considered a Money Worshiper. We get it, we live in a society that worships money – how are we supposed to set ourselves apart when money worship is commonplace? The behaviors that stem from money worship may be toxic or destructive, but our society supports and even rewards this type of behavior. You may even believe that more money will solve all of your problems. What’s interesting is that although you think there is never such a thing as “too much money”, putting work ahead of family in the pursuit of money never quite satisfies or fulfills you.

You are more likely to overspend on yourself or others, have a lower net worth, and carry high debts. You find yourself making purchases in the pursuit of happiness. Going against societal norms has its challenges but paying attention to real moments of experienced happiness will help detach this mindset. Notice the distance and lack of correlation that happiness has to our level of income, net worth, and total possessions.

Money worship can have a negative impact on your financial health. Here are some tips to help challenge this mentality:

  1. What is important to you? Sometimes we forget why we are chasing money. Achieving wealth can quickly lose its glamour unless we attach it to our values. What are your plans with that money? Challenge yourself by asking yourself why. For example, I want more money to go on vacations. Why? To spend time with my family. Why? So we can have experiences together and create memories. If you scrape away the stuff, you can see what is important to you. What really matters doesn’t cost a thing! When we keep our priorities straight, it can help us maintain a healthy work-life balance and make sure to connect with loved ones throughout our day/week/life. After all, your relationships are more likely to bring you happiness than money in and of itself ever will.
  2. Eliminate Buyer’s Remorse! Who doesn’t like buying a new toy? It can be thrilling to make a new purchase, especially so if it was an impulse one. Often, that excitement dwindles away, and you regret the purchase. If you experience this, practice pausing between the idea of the purchase and the actual purchase. Come back later. Think if over. Evaluate the purpose and intention of the purchase. Does this purchase align with my values, beliefs, and family’s needs? Creating space allows your financial decisions to live in a more rational place, maintain its initial desire, and stop making you feel bad when the whole point was to make you happy.
  3. Give back. Support a charity, donate, or volunteer your time. How do you feel? Notice the impact. Did you feel better giving books to children in need or buying yourself something? You will surprise yourself! Make sure you budget the time and space for your giving initiatives and explore different ways to support others, beyond giving them money. Your time will be just as valuable to those in need (if not more).

To the high scoring Peacocks (9+ points), you are considered a Money Status Seeker.

You tend to link your self-worth with your net worth. You are driven to earn more money than your peers and taking risks to make money quickly plus the desire to buy expensive things is in your nature. Outward displays of wealth are important to you – and as a result, overspending is a recurring obstacle you face. You are more likely to gamble excessively, become financially dependent on others, or hide financial matters from your partner/spouse.

Sometimes you think that if you live a virtuous life, the universe will take care of you (financially speaking). Growing up, you may have experienced lower socioeconomic environments or were surrounded by a household that prioritized social status through displays of wealth. It is clear we live in a society that associates financial status with social standing. That being said, it is normal to be attracted to money and desire to be financially successful. Although these feelings are normal, if not identified and tamed this mindset can be damaging.

Here are some tips to keep your money status mindset from becoming toxic to your financial health:

  1. Create a budget and involve your family/advisor. The point of this exercise is to create accountability and get your financial situation in order. You want to make smart purchases, be intentional with your spending, and pay attention to how, when, and why you are spending. Your budget should not feel like constraints but instead, empower you to make the right decisions in your spending behavior.
  2. Work-life balance. You are constantly striving for financial success. In this pursuit, you may find that your work and life is not balanced. Take the time to dedicate hours to your family and loved ones, create connections that are separate from the strive to make money. Be aware of workaholism, this can have a negative impact on relationships as well as your own wellbeing. All the money in the world can’t buy you loving relationships or sanity. Create the balance.
  3. Challenge WHY before making purchases. Money status personalities tend to make purchases for the wrong reasons. Is the purchase filling a need? Or is the purchase a desire? Is the desire for myself, or for others? Recognizing the reasoning behind your financial decision making can shed light on this personality trait being present. Is the purchase for an appearance? Identify the emotions you experience throughout the entire process and how long they last. Is there a pattern? How can I eliminate the bad feelings and keep the good?

To the high scoring Squirrels (9+ points), you are considered a Money Vigilant. Unlike the turtle who avoids thinking about finances, you are always concerned about your financial future. You believe that being frugal, smart with spending, and saving as much as possible is important. You don’t believe in financial handouts and barely buy on credit, always maintaining low levels of debt. You tend to be anxious about your financial future but that just drives you to save more. You have a hard time spending on yourself and more likely to spend on others. You may be uncomfortable discussing money openly, however, you are never deceitful or secretive with your partner.

Although you have healthy concerns about your financial future, your high levels of financial prudence may prevent you from enjoying the fruits of your labor. Here are some tips to not allow your money vigilance to deprive you from the financial pleasure of life:

  1. You earned it, now enjoy it. Ever heard the term work hard, play hard? Well, you’ve got half of that equation down – you just need to embrace the second part. Nobody disagrees that financial stability and saving for the future is important to your financial health, you just need to remember that life is a journey and you should enjoy the ride. Saving all of your hard-earned money for a day that may never come is a scary thought. That’s why it is critical that you budget money for yourself and enjoy your hard work while you can. If you have a financial plan, you will see that including discretionary spending on enjoyment now will not hinder you from reaching your future financial goals. Enjoy responsibly.
  2. Open up with a trusted advisor. Although chatting it up about your finances with a girlfriend may be uncomfortable, try confiding in a financial advisor or financial therapist about your financial situation and specific goals. The point is to broaden your horizons a bit, hear new perspectives, and realize that although saving for the future is important, the anxiety and stress you may be feeling can be hindering your happiness and overall mental health. Pay attention or keep a journal of how often you think about finances. Is this time taking away from family time or causing unnecessary stress? Once you identify how much of your headspace your finances are consuming, you can create change and set up dedicated times to not allow your vigilance to take over.
  3. Create a play account. That’s right, just like you have been diligently saving for your family’s future goals, you should have a savings account that is intended for fun and play! If you are uncomfortable spending this account on yourself, involve your loved ones as well. Save for a fun family vacation, activity, or purchase that the whole family can enjoy. You will find pleasure in enjoying your hard work as a family, sooner than later.

As you may have noticed, even those that have the healthiest relationships with money will lean towards a money script (or two). From the exercise above, I hope you have noticed that you do not need to have money problems to identify with a money script. Perhaps before this article, you already noticed some financial behavior that is more obvious to pinpoint, such as compulsive buying, hoarding, workaholism, or financial enabling. Otherwise, the behaviors may be more subtle or – simply a mental roadblock instead of a physical one. Hopefully, you gained some insight into yourself and your personal relationship with money. It is only after you become aware that are you able to assess whether your script is restricting you from achieving your financial goals and living a financially healthy lifestyle.

To learn more about financial therapy, visit www.financialtherapyassociation.org

Article author Celia Meagher is a Morton Capital Wealth Advisor, CFP®, and is currently studying Financial Therapy at the Financial Therapy Association.


Sources:
Klontz, B. T., & Britt, S. L. (2012). How Clients’ Money Scripts Predict Their Financial Behaviors.
Klontz, Brad, Sonya L. Britt, Jennifer Mentzer, and Ted Klontz. 2011. “Money Beliefs and Financial Behaviors: Development of the Klontz Money Script Inventory.”
Klontz, Brad, Sonya L. Britt, Kristy L. Archuleta, and Ted Klontz. 2012. “Disordered Money Behaviors: Development of the Klontz Money Behavior Inventory.”
Klontz, Brad, Rick Kahler, and Ted Klontz. 2008. Facilitating Financial Health: Tools for Financial Planners, Coaches, and Therapists.
Sages, R.A., & Britt, S. L. (2012). Introducing clients to financial therapy. Trust & Estates, 1519 (3)
Your Mental Wealth. “Discover Your Unconscious Money Beliefs” Web.
Zohlen, Evelyn M. “What’s Your Money Script?” Web. 23 May 2017. Financial Awareness, Retirement

MC Stories – A New Way of Working

Many of us experienced feelings of uncertainty and excitement when the stay-at-home order was first announced. Uncertainty from not knowing how long it would last or if we would be able to work in the same way. Excitement for the conveniences of working from home. No commute, more time with family, and comfortable apparel have been a few silver linings in the midst of a pandemic. But as time passes, we are all starting to realize that our new normal may be vastly different than the life we knew a few months ago. While working remotely has its benefits, it can also be isolating, result in longer work hours, be less intellectually satisfying, cause mediocre collaboration, and result in fatigue that could hinder innovation. To combat these negatives, we must find a way to proactively discover what it means for us to thrive in this new normal. Below are a few tips I have learned along the way to help you re-energize your workday:

Pick a few locations

Remember those days at the office where you had meetings in conference rooms, sat at your desk, visited someone in the breakroom, or went out to lunch? Mobility is just as important at home. Pick at least three locations (ideally one can be outside) and rotate between them throughout the day. If you don’t have a mobile laptop, then answer emails on your phone for 30 minutes while you sit outside.

Get the right equipment

Remote work probably won’t ever go away – it may be wise to budget a laptop purchase in the near future, start planning for an at-home office or get yourself a laptop stand so that you are not bent over in an uncomfortable position all day. If your eyes hurt from too much zooming, invest in computer glasses to decrease fatigue and strain. Do what you need to do to set yourself up for success.

Overmanage your calendar

Don’t let email or your calendar control you – control it. Spend 15 minutes every morning reviewing your calendar for the next three days and plug-in time for emails (3x/day for 30 minutes…otherwise close outlook/turn email off), schedule projects (this includes emails that take longer than 5 minutes to respond to) and block creativity/innovation time. Re-evaluate every day whether the goals you set are achievable and if something needs to be rescheduled or delayed, just ask (in advance, not at the deadline).

Invest in yourself

We can’t give our best to others if we don’t give to ourselves. What makes you feel recovered – exercise? Netflix binge? cooking? chatting with your kids? Whatever your ‘thing’ is that makes you happy, do it daily. Just because you get the conveniences of working from home does not mean you should spend all of your time working. Plug time into your calendar to invest in yourself.

Find time to connect with others

The time will come when we will reenter the workplace, and as long as it is safe for you to do so, embrace the ability to be around people again. As humans, we energize one another through non-verbal communication, something that has been lacking over the past few months. Take advantage of any opportunity to connect with someone, even if you need to stay 6 feet apart. Laugh a little and prioritize conversations that are personal and authentic.

Remember that as humans, we are naturally inclined to be together. While technology has given us the benefit of digital communication, it is also important that we do not lose sight of the benefits of human connection.

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 – Final Webinar

Our final COVID-19 webinar was moderated by our COO, Stacey McKinnon, who asked the following questions of Wealth Advisors Bruce Tyson and Jason Naiman related to the impact of government policy on investor portfolios: 

  • We have seen a massive amount of money printing over the last decade – how has that impacted stocks and bonds?
  • How might the pandemic impact the election?
  • How should business owners think differently coming out of the lockdown?

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/stayingconnectedwebinar05052020

We look forward to you joining us on future webinars!

Staying Connected During COVID-19 – Webinar #5

Led by our Wealth Advisors Alan Kane and Chelsea Watson, this webinar addressed client questions surrounding the latest developments of COVID-19 and its impact on the market. Alan Kane has more than 39 years of experience in financial services. He shared his views on the past major cycles and what we can learn from history in the current environment. Chelsea Watson has been with Morton Capital for over 10 years. She shared her perspective on how we may need to change plans and adapt to life after the pandemic.

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/stayingconnectedwebinar04282020

We look forward to you joining us on future webinars!

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!