Reflections of an Intern

As investment professionals, we tend to take a lot of “investment content” for granted and, like many professions, assume that the general public has the same awareness on wealth planning concepts that we do.  Our recent college intern, Daria Lenderman (Northwestern University), shared her observations following her very successful session at Sigma Investment Counselors this summer and reminded us of the need for concise communication and full explanation when we discuss wealth planning with our clients.  We hope you enjoy her comments as much as we did.

All comments and suggestions are welcome.

Bob Bilkie, CFA®

Prior to this August, I had no clue what funded my life as a college student. Every so often my parents would send some money my way, and that was that. I knew how hard my parents worked to generate that money, and that when I graduated, I too would have to work just as hard to make my living. At the same time, that seemed way on the horizon. I, like many other young adults, failed to realize the complex array of components and considerations that affect my family’s financial planning.

As I understood, my future would look as follows: graduate college, maybe pursue graduate education, get a job, pay my bills, put some money away in the bank to save, and retire. I now realize that this model acts as the bones for a financial future, but lacks the meat that must be present for success.

The amount of preparation that goes into people’s lives astonished me. As a reader, you likely already know about the planning involved with retirement, children’s education, future homes and vacations. While the thought process is somewhat intuitive, I’ve never had to consider those things in actuality. What surprised me even more was that generally, an untouched salary is not enough to meet those goals. I was passively aware of the risks and rewards of different investments, but never realized the level of necessity they play in people’s lives. The variety of investments and the purposes they served in a portfolio was, at first, hard to follow. Eventually the jargon started making sense and I could finally get a glimpse at the whole picture. Salaries, stocks, bonds, homes and more would come together in a way to help a client fulfill their obligations and their desires.

Once I saw the inner-workings of a healthy financial future, the delicate nature of finances struck me. Even with 6-figure salaries, money runs out quickly if not acted upon properly. Overspending and a resistance to diversification could quickly lead to a dissipation of funds.

I never thought I took money for granted. I recognize my privileged upbringing and I have always been thankful for the relative ease with which I am able to live my life. What I was blind to was the depth of thought, strategy, and planning that went into facilitating our financial needs.

Looking forward, this experience gave me insight into the world of wealth and investment management as a career, but also as a necessity for planning my own financial future. I take pride in understanding once foreign concepts. The information and skills I have gained during this experience will undoubtedly fuel my career, whether it be in wealth management or virtually any other field. Furthermore, the knowledge I’ve acquired is practically applied everyday at Sigma, in my life, and in yours.

Daria V. Lenderman