Thursday, March 25, 2010

1) ...In the Beginning


 have diverse interests and a handful of favorite things in this life: food, exercise, sex, travel, the beach, my 10-speed bike, my ‘78 Firebird, my Adidas Superstars, my Seiko chronograph, business & money, intellectual, cultural & spiritual pursuits, Star Trek, women, and my friends & family - not necessarily in this order.

I believe in honor, integrity, and balancing ‘doing’ with ‘being’.  I also believe that, while on this Earth, we have certain priorities in which we must involve ourselves; priorities that may not be important if there are other Universes or an afterlife.  These assets must be employed, and skills honed, to survive.  To thrive, we must learn to integrate and balance them: body-mind & spirit.

I founded Simons Financial Network in 1981 to change the world one client at a time.

In spite of having studied business at New York University, and enjoying a fast-track career in health & fitness, it began to look like I wasn’t going to get to start my nationwide chain of health clubs.  So I created a financial services boutique.

I, the ‘Trusted Family Advisor’, offered ‘one-stop shopping’ that included basic offerings such as financial planning, investments, insurance and tax preparation, but later added specialties such as Divorce Financial Planning (I helped found the Association of Divorce Financial Planners) and Credit Rehabilitation (where I taught the topic at New York’s Learning Annex for 12 years) and my flagship Personal Business Management service where I became the personal CFO for executives, professionals and people in the arts (I came from a show business family).

However, later I was struggling and no longer enjoying the daily grind.  My marketing consultant asked me ‘why not do something you enjoy, not just something that earns money?’  I thought, ‘how smart was that?!’

I knew that I, basically, liked what I was doing but I was ‘lost in the forest’.  We analyzed my practice, and what we came up with was amazing!  I made two lists: one of my most profitable clients and one of my favorite clients.  We compared the lists to see who was on both; they were all women!  He looked at me and said, “Eric, you’ve been doing this by accident, it’s time to do it on purpose”.

I’ve never looked back.  That’s the way the Universe is.

            Women have critical needs and special interests as their earning power grows and familial relationships change.  Financial professionals and the media seldom adequately address these issues.

            When it comes to money, women have different skills, attitudes, and strengths than do men.

Historically, women went from ‘Daddy’s house’ to ‘Husband’s house’ and en route seldom felt confident about money.  They were given a household allowance to manage but seldom dealt with investments, taxes and estate planning.  Yet they were expert at creating budgets, saving, and prioritizing; skills many men disregard.

 Men often act empowered about money, a great leadership skill - and in fact, they may be great earners.  But earning money and managing money are two different things.

Many men suffer from ‘a little knowledge is a dangerous thing’, thereby encountering what Joe Mancuso, business consultant, coins as ‘Ready, FIRE, Aim!’  They get to boast at the cocktail party about the ‘killing they made in the market’, but they don’t mention their numerous losses.  They suffer from greed and holding investments too long (i.e. lacking a disciplined ‘sell strategy’).

Conversely, women are more motivated by goals such as making sure that the rent is paid, the kids are tended, that she can periodically vacation, and that she can afford to retire versus becoming a  ‘shopping bag lady’ - still one of the most prevalent fears. 

Men often have a financial team (e.g. accountant, banker, broker, insurance agent) where women don’t.  These professionals often address most of their comments to the man (i.e. ‘the decision-maker’) and lack the patience and skill to explain concepts and details to a woman.  (Yet women control the majority of money in America even if the money isn’t in their name!) 

Today’s woman doesn’t appreciate not having important decisions explained to her; she wants to learn and then make her own decisions.

Men tend to categorize; women tend to integrate.  Money can be ego and power for a man, but is a tool for a woman.  And financial planning presumes the integration of many separate but related areas such as divorce, tax, retirement, college funding and long-term care.

I like to teach (in addition to being trained as a financial planner, I’m trained as a teacher and have taught for New York University and numerous other organizations); women like to learn - how symbiotic!

Women make plans and patiently stick to them; men often want to know how much money they made by the close of ‘market’.  Women don’t feel this need to hit ‘home runs’ versus consistently ‘hitting doubles’. (Babe Ruth was both the ‘Home Run King’ and the ‘Strike-Out King”).  Consistency wins.

Women are willing to delegate and don’t feel the need to micromanage their money.  In return, they expect a high level of service, respect, and effective communication.

Women stick to their plans, giving the plan time to work, the way seeds need time to take root and grow.  They monitor their progress and make adjustments as necessary, like watering a garden and pulling weeds. (During the ‘90’s women made more money in the stock market than did men - not due to better security selection, but due to lower trading costs since they traded less frequently!)

Women are also profitable clients as they are loyal and appreciate the economies of scale that one-stop shopping provides.

Women also send referrals since it is in their nature to openly communicate and share.

I like women.  Women and money, let’s sing: ‘…these are a two of my favorite things’.

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