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  • Writer's pictureAthena Financial Group

The Art of Doing Nothing

A few years back, I heard an economist speak at an education conference I was attending. He was very engaging (Unusual for economists) and he was telling us about the factories of the future and how technology was going to transform them.

He told us about an egg factory and how the chickens were fed, eggs collected and that it basically only took two workers to manage thousands of chickens daily. On one hand I was amazed and on the other hand I thought how horrible for these poor chickens, but that is another story for another day. His metaphor was that the factory of the future was going to have only a man and a dog running it. The dog would be there to make sure the man didn’t touch the machinery (technology) and the man would be there to feed the dog. Of course, this is an over simplification but it really struck a chord with me as to how we should use technology in our lives and how it would impact us in the future.

When people first come to me, they want guidance and help understanding financial matters. Money can be complex but the longer I am in the business and earn my grey hair (It is there hidden under blonde highlights) I realize that I am really similar to the dog in the factory. My job is to keep you from touching your money at the wrong time. Growwwl.

You and your chosen career path are the factory producing revenue, running your life, and hopefully saving some for a future rainy day, whether it is a college fund, a new house, or retirement. My job is basically to keep your emotions at bay, keep you from touching something at the wrong time. And this isn’t always easy. Many times doing nothing is hard.

This reminds me of a study I recently read. It was about soccer goalies and penalty kicks. When a player gets a penalty kick, they go one on one against the goalie. The player kicks the ball and the goalie tries to block it. Social scientist studied thousands of these kicks to learn which was the most effective strategy for the player to get past the goalie. Was it kicking the ball up and to the left, or the right or straight down the middle? Players long ago figured out that straight down the middle was generally the most effective strategy. Goalies know that more times than not, the player will kick the ball down the middle. Yet most times, the goalie will dive to the left or dive to the right. Why? Because if they just stand there and miss the block, the crowd will boo (And in some countries riot). If the goalie at least dives one way or the other and misses the block, the crowd at least gives the goalie some credit for trying, even if it is statistically better for them to stand still.

I have found over the years, that managing investments for clients is similar. More times than not, it is better to do nothing when volatility heats up in the stock market. Yet, if the advisor does nothing, they get booed. If markets are going down clients may say, “What do I need you for? I can lose money all by myself, I don’t have pay for it!” or if the markets are flat, “What am I paying you for? You don’t bring any value”. And you are right. What you are paying for in a financial planner should be more for the planning, not the investment advising. Make sure you are using your financial planner for bigger picture planning, tax planning, estate planning. Investments are important, but only one piece in the factory that is your financial life.

At The Athena Financial Group, we strive to help your with the whole picture, not just investments. And we will act like a good Australian Shepard Sheep dog keeping your financial life rounded up, but we will bark at you if you try to touch the machinery! Groowwwl

Securities and advisory services offered through Royal Alliance Associates, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. The Athena Financial Group is a separate company and not affiliated with Royal Alliance nor is it a broker/dealer or investment advisor.

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