The Investment Scientist

When Going Gets Tough

Posted on: July 19, 2016


hard-times.jpgRecently, I had a Review and Discovery meeting with a physician in her late 50s. When I first saw her, she looked  burnt out and stressed. Who can blame her? She has been dealt a very bad hand in life.

  • One of her children suffers from down syndrome and requires lifelong care.
  • Her husband, also a physician, passed away several years ago, leaving behind a financial mess
  • The financial professionals who were supposed to help her, led her to make disastrous investments. She lost her house and had to declare personal bankruptcy.
  • Her father recently passed away, also leaving behind a financial mess.
  • Her mother is so dependent on her now that she cannot continue her medical practice.

She told me she almost wanted to pull her hair out when thinking about her responsibility to her patients, her children, her mother and yet she can’t even sort out her own personal finances.

I did not mince words in telling her how dire her financial situation is. When I told her how much she needs to retire, she almost fell off her chair.

I then told her that if she were able to put aside $30k a year, and the money is invested well, she might be able to get to what she needs to retire at 75.

The true saving grace is that she is a physician. As long as she is healthy, she will always find employment.

For a while, I hesitated to take her on as a client, since her asset is pretty far away from meeting my minimum. She will be a client who needs a lot of work but my financial payoff will be relatively small. I am tempted to point her in the right direction and let her embark on the journey herself. This is what I usually do with prospects who do not meet my minimum.

With so many burdens already on her and with no room for mistakes, she may not be able to embark on this journey by herself.

When I told her I would be willing to be her advisor and guide her through the journey to financial freedom, the relief on her face was palpable.

She shared with me that she loves painting and when she does so, she forgets all her troubles. I told her: “Now that I’ll take the burden of righting your personal finance off your plate, go do more paintings. Stay healthy and spirited, since your mother, your son and your patients need you.”

When going gets tough, the tough gets going.

Schedule a Discovery review with me, or get my white paper for free: The Informed Investor: 5 Key Concepts for Financial Success.

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Michael Zhuang is principal of MZ Capital, a fee-only independent advisory firm based in Washington, DC.


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