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Emotionally Aware Investing

Emotionally Aware Investing

July 12, 2019
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For my dad SGK

Soundtrack: Queen’s Greatest Hits

Gains and losses:

When I was 10 we moved from Fort Myers to Dayton Ohio. I joke that my parents went the wrong way on I-75 and that’s why I grew up in Dayton. I wouldn’t have traded that time for the world. To say that the experience of moving, living with grandma for a while, and being around such an inspirational spitfire for the bulk of my formative years is both obvious and an understatement. 

I learned a lot about letting go. As a 10-year-old, moving away from friends is arguably one of the biggest challenges modern-day children have to face. I learned a lot about dealing with adversity — my dad’s sparkly new Ohio job fell through a couple of days before we moved. I learned how to be the “new kid”- possibly one of the only things harder than leaving behind your 10-year-old friends. I learned how to take all these things in stride and see speed bumps instead of roadblocks. This I learned from my mother, the eternal optimist, supernatural empath, and goddess of unending patience.

January 2019. We get word my grandmother has shuffled onto her next cosmic role. She was 89. We knew it was coming — we all face the same inevitability — but this was an expected outcome given her specific variables. She lived a full and fulfilled life. Square dancin’, poker playin’, white wine sippin’, dinner clubbin’ till the end. She was an active member of her church, and, most importantly for this article, she was a writer. Every holiday card she would send us contained a little something written from her heart, with a little zinger from her brain. I always admired her ability to write and even mused as a youngster that I might be able to do it someday. 

March 24, 2019. We get word my dad has charged on his next great adventure. He was 64. No one saw this coming — though we all face the same inevitability. This was a very unexpected outcome given his specific variables. I could write a book (and I might) with the words that flow from my brain when I think about my dad, but for this letter, I will simply refer you to the tribute I wrote and read at his going away party. (I don’t know why I just don’t love the term “celebration of life.”)

Freddie Mercury said it succinctly yet eloquently: “I’ve had my share of sand kicked in my face but I’ve come through…” In January I said goodbye to Grandma. In February I started a new independent investment advisory practice focused solely on client outcomes. In March I said goodbye to my dad. April and May have been verifiably boring in the face of the action of the first quarter. (Boring is beautiful — please God give me boring for a long long time.) 

2019 has been a marked year of losses for me. And a marked year of gains. Real, verifiable gains and losses. The market is harmonizing with my tune, but the market’s song never stops. (It just goes on and on and on… see what I did there!) Let me explain.

The range of outcomes for “the market” is always the same. It goes up, it goes down, or it stays the same. The voracity and pace with which movement or non-movement comes is simply another set of variables with potential expected outcomes. 

“Huh?” Right, so it goes like this: 

Them, “Breandan what do you think the market is gonna do about X variable?” Me, “Well I can say with absolute certainty it will go up, down, or stay the same.” Them, “Ummmmm Breandan maybe you made a huge mistake with this whole finance thing?” Me, “You didn’t ask the right question. What the market does is irrelevant compared to your plan for whatever it does.” Therein lies the beauty of working with an advisor who has the skill and care to continually manage an investment plan through all the market’s speed bumps.

Market goes up. “You see how much money I made!” Ahem. Yes, I see there on your monthly statement; which is a snapshot of exactly one day, of one month, of one year; that your balance is indeed higher. “Yeah man, I’m crushing it! Making so much money!” So how much did you sell it for? “Dude I’m never selling this stock, mutual fund, bond, ETF, etc…I’m making too much money!”

Market goes down. “I’ve lost so much money!” Oof, so you decided to sell? “No, I can’t sell! I’ve lost too much money!” Then you live to fight another day my friend. (Selling an investment solely because it went down may be the worst possible decision a person can make.) Sit a spell my friend, let me set you on course.

Evaluation of plusses and minuses without the transaction of SELL is simply an intermediary check-in. You have not made or lost a dime in the market until the day you SELL. Gains and losses on your statement are transitory, a  snapshot of one day in history. Managing the sell is what you pay your advisor for. A quick aside: If you, your friends, or family work with an advisor who says “Well you pay me to manage the managers,” understand very clearly that the person sitting across the desk from them has no direct involvement in the investment decision process of their portfolios. This is almost certainly a better outcome than the person sitting across from them trying to manage a portfolio for them, but it may not be exactly clear what their “advisor” is doing to earn their fees and/or commissions. The average advisor, on their best day, is a highly trained salesperson; on their worst day, well…

So… what’s the market gonna do? I dunno… got some pretty good plans lined up for the three basic scenarios though, each one dialed into a specific client’s endgame goals and specific risk tolerance. But part of those plans is being proactive NOW so we won’t need to be as reactive later. 

Call me 239-689-9364 and we can discuss your individual plan. Work with an advisor you trust who has the skill and care to walk with you through all of life’s speed bumps. And remember, though at times it may feel like it, it’s not Life and Death.

Breandan Kelly is the Founder and CEO of Fort Myers Wealth Management Group. He is obsessed with improving client outcomes through enriching client education and understanding client expectations. Breandan believes that pursuing an active risk management strategy is the best way for clients to achieve their goals. Learn more about the firm at

Securities and advisory services offered through LPLFinancial, a Registered Investment Advisor Member FINRA/SIPC

The opinions voiced in this material are for general information only and are not intended to provide specific advice or recommendations for any individual.