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The magic trick behind successful wealth management

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"An overnight success is ten years in the making." - Tom Clancy


The illusion

In a recent podcast, screenwriter Eric Bogosian shared some of his thoughts about planning ahead. He describes a particular screenplay in which a character (played by a comedian) is cast with a job of answering the phone. The bit is, every time someone calls in, this character has a witty line or perfect joke at the ready.

Because a viewer is living "in" the movie, it seems the lines are delivered off the cuff. To be able to come up with these jokes on the spot is certainly impressive, and everyone thinks the character is a genius.

However, in reality it took weeks or months to write these "genius" jokes. What looked like an instantaneous stroke of genius was actually the result of planning and hours of hard work. As Bogosian explains, "that's the magic trick."

The "magic trick" of wealth management

In this "magic trick" lay a number of parallels to wealth management, investing, and life in general.

In hindsight, success often appears predetermined. Most people look at those who have achieved something significant - a successful entrepreneur, or a famous athlete - and think, "wow, it would be great to be them."

And they're right; it would be great to trade places and immediately be a successful entrepreneur or famous athlete. But (much like the audience who assumes the phone is answered with split-second humor), what isn't considered is how much time it typically takes to reach that point - how much planning goes into success, and the amount of hard work required for that plan to become a reality.

Let's take a look at a few ways you can plan ahead for your own financial goals, rather than admiring someone else's end result.

Planning ahead

When you look at someone with your dream job, it's usually safe to assume they weren't hired off the street. Think about the years (and likely decades) of hard work it took to get there.

Plan ahead to put in the time.

Maybe you just found out a friend is retiring in their mid-fifties, with a multi-million dollar portfolio. Chances are they didn't just hit the lottery - most likely it's the result of 20 or 30 years of diligent saving and smart investing.

Plan ahead to save and invest.

Perhaps you hear of a neighbor who's been in their home for ten years and are "only a couple of years away from paying it off." Unless they happened to come into a sudden windfall and decide to pay down their note, that achievement was born of a goal formed years in advance to make extra payments towards principal.

Plan ahead and make consistent progress toward your goals.

Maybe you envy someone who can stay calm during times of financial crises - someone who is actually able to do what Warren Buffett famously suggests and "be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful." To you, it may seem like it would require a fantastic feat of strength to maintain poise during financial strife.

But by planning your strategy and behavior ahead of time, it becomes much easier to take the appropriate action when crisis hits.

Buffet made several investments during the most recent financial crisis. He was able to act, and act quickly, in all probability because he had decided ahead of time what each investment was worth and what opportunities he was looking for. When the time came, he didn't have to think about it further, he could just act.

Plan ahead to stick with your strategy.


Any stroke of genius or incredible accomplishment is the result of planning for the opportunity and putting in the hard work to take advantage of it when the time comes.

Set an intentional plan in advance, put in the time, and reap the benefits - and you'll achieve the same overnight success that others seem to. In other words...Write your joke before the phone rings.



To learn more about how Cordant can help you plan ahead for the future, visit our solutions page or Give us a call at 503.621.9207.

Click here for disclosures regarding information contained in blog postings.

Click here for disclosures regarding information contained in blog postings.
Cordant, Inc. is not affiliated or associated with, or endorsed by, Intel.

Published on August 11, 2015

Isaac Presley, CFA

Isaac Presley, CFA

Isaac Presley is the President and Director of Investments for Cordant, a wealth management firm serving current and former Intel employees. To learn more, you can read Isaac's full bio.

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