March is always an exciting time of the year because my favorite annual event, the NCAA basketball tournament, kicks off a frenzy of activity and enthusiasm and we all become consumed with “March Madness.” Dreams of earning spots in the Final Four will be realized or dashed over the next few weeks for both men’s and women’s college teams, with new national champions being crowned in early April. I’m especially interested because I played college basketball and am anxious to see all of the “one shining moments” that make the tournament so special to hoops fans each year.
Without too much of a stretch, the winning lessons learned on the hardwood can also be applied to wealth management, as many of the qualities that lead teams to success in basketball can carry over to other areas of life. Here are a few of my favorite quotes from coaching legends that I believe apply to the three areas most important for individual and family wealth management success: preparation, execution and flexibility.
“Failing to prepare is preparing to fail.” – John Wooden
Truly, very few in college basketball history could out-prepare Wooden, the “Wizard of Westwood.” The former head coach of the UCLA Bruins and ten-time national champion was a perfectionist during his team’s practices and always had his squad ready to take the court, braced for an opponent’s best effort.
Similarly, high-net-worth families have planning and wealth management needs that must be carefully planned out. Preserving wealth through tax planning, risk management and transfer of wealth remains a complex procedure. Much like a coach, experienced wealth advisors can help make the complicated decisions before problems arise – and as a fiduciary, they can evaluate the risks with the experience and knowledge needed to help customize goals for every individualized and unique circumstance.
“Our emphasis is on execution, not on winning.” – Pat Summitt
Perhaps no coach pushed her teams to greater heights than the Lady Vols legend, Pat Summitt. She retired in 2012 with eight national championships and an astounding 18 trips to the Final Four. Her quote reinforces that – while preparing is crucial – it’s not just about pregame strategy, but also about the continuing dedication required to execute a successful game plan.
College basketball teams navigate through the entire regular season experiencing ups and downs that come along with the journey. History has shown it’s nearly impossible to navigate a season undefeated. The most successful teams recognize that consistently executing the plan will always lead to more wins than losses, but there will be times that the ball doesn’t bounce your way. In like manner, there will be swings in the market that affect investment portfolios, and the pressure to diverge from a preset plan based on short-term market fluctuations will be tempting. But this is the time when it’s most important for investors, like Summitt’s teams, to show fortitude and stick to the plan in place. It is at these moments that having an experienced professional on your side of the table can be most important.
“I have a plan of action, but the game is a game of adjustments.” – Mike Krzyzewski
Preparation and execution are the first two steps to building a winner, but inevitably, there will be obstacles faced during the game, and in life. This quote on flexibility comes from Duke’s “Coach K”, college basketball’s all-time Division 1 leader in victories. Krzyzewski is an elite in-game tactician.
Sometimes a team has a great plan and is executing well, but the opponent is just playing better. Likewise, there will always be bumps along the road to successful wealth management — but those who are intentional with their preparation and understand the role of each investment type in their portfolio have a much higher probability of success.
Like with any great team, candid communication is critical to long-term success. And while the market can shift, leading to tweaks in the plan, this shouldn’t affect the overall strategy for victory. Though many of these circumstances are unexpected, the relationship and communication with a trusted wealth management expert should always be something that can be relied upon, through ups and downs. Flexibility and creativity in thinking can often provide the nimbleness needed to adapt to changing factors out of one’s control.
Come April, the teams that craft the best strategies, execute at the highest level and are able to show flexibility and resilience during pressure-packed moments will most likely be the men’s and women’s teams that cut down the nets as national champions this year. I’ll be watching and cheering them on, but I’m also rooting for you to apply these principles for your own wealth planning and prosperity. And like college basketball’s best coaches, our advisors are available to help provide wealth management tips to help develop your best game plan.
Let the March Madness begin!