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A Fable Of The Lion And The Deer
Who Is Your Partner In The Storms Of Life?
By Robert Peckenpaugh
Learn more about Robert Peckenpaugh by visiting his bio page.
I read a lot, some novels but mostly non-fiction. I enjoy books on economics, history, biographies and psychology because they help me better understand how to put current happenings in perspective.
I’ve been re-reading Joseph de la Vega’s Confusion of Confusions. Joseph de la Vega was a successful merchant, poet, and philanthropist who lived in 17th century Amsterdam. Confusion of Confusions is considered to be the oldest book ever written on the stock exchange business and it made him famous. The book offers four principles which still hold water today.
But as I was reading this work, the fourth principle really struck a chord with me. It states: “He who wishes to become rich from this game must have both money and patience since the values are so little constant and rumors are so little founded on truth.”
To illustrate this point, Joseph de la Vega added an analogy that I think expresses the point well. “He who knows how to endure blows without being terrified by the misfortune resembles the lion who answers the thunder with a roar and is unlike the deer who, stunned by the thunder, tries to flee”.
Let’s explore how we can help you feel like a lion, no matter the storms that come your way.
I was having a conversation with a long-term client the other day. He is now in his 90s and expressed a sentiment that surprised me. He said, “Bob I don’t have the patience to be a long-term investor any more. I don’t have that much time left.”
I listened to him carefully and then reminded him of how far we had come. He became my client when we were both much younger. We were just starting our families and were learning to live frugally, make smart choices with our money and take a long-term perspective.
I reminded him that the choices he made back then were not about hitting some number or achieving a specific amount of wealth. His choices were made to provide for his family and to sustain the lifestyle they desired. He had a vision for the future and wanted me to help him realize that vision.
Our actions were designed to give him the peace of mind knowing that we had together taken every reasonable step possible to prepare for the unexpected. In other words, we were working together to help him become Joseph de la Vega’s lion.
After thinking about this a moment, he said: “You know what, you’re right Bob.”
The temptation to run
It is a difficult reality that life throws storms at all of us. Sometimes we experience those storms collectively as a people, such as during the financial crisis and the crash of 2008. Sometimes our storms are individual, such as when a family goes through a crisis.
When we face these times of adversity, a natural human response is to panic – to be like the deer that hears the thunder and bolts blindly into an unknown future. However, we are very fortunate at Whitnell to work with clients who are not skittish, who are not easily startled.
During the crash of 2008, many of our clients actually reached out to us to tell us that they were not worried and that they were fully confident that we would do whatever was necessary with their investment program.
One client said to me: “Bob I know you’ve seen these types of situations before and I know you are taking the steps needed to protect our wealth." He was right. We were working diligently, not only to protect their wealth, but also to take advantage of opportunities the market decline provided. More on that in a moment.
I have a sense that when something cataclysmic impacts an entire community or nation, people have a certain comfort level knowing that we’re all in this together. But it’s the individual crisis, the kind that impacts a family or an individual family member, that really stimulates the fight or flight response. It is in these moments that you really need a lion in your corner.
What does it mean to be a lion?
I would like to think that at our best moments at Whitnell, we are your lion. We recognize that our work is about so much more than protecting and growing wealth. We know that for the vast majority of our clients, their wealth represents their ability to care for the ones they love and to live the life they want to live.
Through the wealth that we help conserve and grow, our clients fund their children and grandchildren’s college funds, sustain a comfortable lifestyle, help a loved-one start a business, travel and enjoy life, retire with peace of mind and build a nest-egg to pass to future generations. Their wealth stands as a bulwark between them and the unknown. Our clients who are charitably minded look to us to help them find the best ways to support the organizations that make a difference.
All of this is dependent on the wealth our clients have accumulated and entrust us to manage. We get that. A lion is not just a hunter, but also a protector.
How we strive to be your lion
There are two important ways we serve as your lion. First, we are fully committed to building and executing the right plan for your family based on a long-term perspective. We are constantly honing our skills in asset allocation, sector diversification, security selection and risk-management.
Second, we are committed to standing with you at times when things go wrong, during a global, national or family crisis. We are not intimidated by the future unknowns because we have learned to focus on those things we can control and not worry about those things beyond our control.
But there is also a third way, and Joseph de la Vega hints at it when he suggests that some lions roar back at the thunder. Most crises, and especially economic downturns, offer opportunities that may come along only once in a generation.
We strive to put our clients in a position to be ready for these. When most other investors are running like fear-stricken deer, we are carefully hunting for the right options for our clients. This is one important way that we help our clients roar back at the storm and actually take advantage of it.
Who needs a lion?
Maybe you know of someone who does not have a lion on their side? You may even have seen people you care about make poor decisions at critical moments. Do you know someone who needs a lion? Maybe it’s time we had a conversation.