Breaking Down the Walls

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by Elle Martinez

One of my goals for Couple Money is to highlight personal finance sites, book, and people that I think can help you with your finances. I mentioned earlier this week that I enjoyed reading Norma Yaeger’s book, Breaking Down Walls. Her memoir was a mix of the personal with her story about building a successful career in a male dominated industry and education with her advice about investing and finances. 

After enjoying the book, I asked if I could submit a few questions that I had and Mrs. Yaeger was gracious and kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to answer them.

What motivated you to write Breaking Down the Walls?

Initially, I was interested in leaving a legacy for my family. I have two daughters, two sons, three granddaughters and two grandsons. I wanted them to know my story so that it would help them to achieve whatever they had a desire to do with their lives. I wanted them to never say “NO”, I cannot do it. Find a way to do it for yourself. Do not wait for others. My book tells the reader that the fear of failure is the worst enemy of success..

I really appreciated that you fought hard to maintain your integrity in an industry that has a reputation for putting profits over people. How did you strike that balance between taking care of your clients and making a profit?

I kept my integrity because my clients were very important to me. I worked very hard to get my clients and I wanted them to get the best advise I could give them. The longevity of my career depended on the profits of my clients. If I took care of my clients honestly and ethically, my profits will follow.

How did you educate/steer customers on making investments for the long run instead of looking for quick wins?

norma yaeger

In the early years of the career, we did not have the speedy computers. Actively trading the market was not possible. Investing in stocks meant for the long term. When programs for retirement became popular, long term investments were necessary for one’s retirement. Speculative short term trading only became the tools of the brokerage company’s traders who had access to the computers.

The computer age changed the industry. However, I still believe the investors who are interested in retirement must think long term and invest in good companies. Trading in and out will also cost an investor a great deal of money in commissions and that will also effect his profits and losses.

Rapid trading is for the professionals and not for the public. The market must be watched carefully every minute of the day. My clients were told how I felt about investments vs trading.

I’ve read that women are conservative investors. Based on your experience, how much of that is true (if any)?

It is my opinion that women are more conservative in their investments. It is much more difficult for women, who may be earning less on a job, to be able to recoup the losses that may be realized from speculative trading. Many women look to their retirement accounts as their only investments. By nature that means long term investment grade stocks and bonds. Women tend to research stocks that they know and understand. Women generally invest in dividend paying stock and interest paying bonds. These can also increase their income.

Have you seen a change in how women invest? For example, how hands on (or off) have they become with their portfolio management? Do women tend to favor a certain investment style?

I have noticed that many investors today are making their investments into mutual funds. There are many funds with different objectives and these funds are managed by professional analysts. They are making the investments with knowledge of the companies they are purchasing for the portfolios.

Many high net worth individuals will hire personal managers to manage their portfolios, but this requires a great deal of money for investment. The Mutual Funds offer diversification for your investment no matter how small it may be.

Finally, as a mother, how did you help your children with learning about investing and finances?

I had chores for my children and they received an allowance for these chores. I then set up a budget with them on how to spend the money. Sometimes they had money left over and we then spoke about how to save their extra money. The savings account was the first investment for their extra money. As they got older, the savings account got larger and it was possible to talk about other ways to spend and invest their savings. Stocks and investments was table talk in my home.

My children learned early about investments, savings and speculation. They all have retirement accounts today and invest long term. I hope they are teaching their children about how to handle their money and investments. All my children and grandchildren have read my book.

Thoughts on Breaking Down the Walls

If you have the opportunity, I think you should pick up a copy of Yaeger’s memoir. There are plenty of stories not only about how investing in the stock market has changed, but also has some incredible gems on being smarter with your investments.

About Elle Martinez
Elle Martinez helps families at Couple Money achieve financial freedom by sharing tips for reducing debt, increase income, and building net worth. Learn how to live on one income and have fun with the second..

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