Wednesday, April 18, 2012

How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Stock Market

I ended up in finance, somehow. At least for now.
Me, the history nerd that devours books like a beast, loves art and tea, gets nervous around large amounts of money,
that despises math and science and has to have the economy explained to her on a monthly basis.
“How do mortgages work?” I ask The Dude (my husband) frequently.
“How do you get money out of the Stock Market? How do you know when? But then why put it in? Why is it so intangible” I’ve been asking my Dad the last decade.

I am the executive assistant to an investment firm’s President/Founder, and also help our COO.
It is very Devil Wears Prada. I am given 2 dozen impossible tasks in one sitting, sometimes have to pull the broccoli out of my boss’s lunch because they got the order wrong and I don’t have time to pick up a fresh one, have phone conversations with presidential candidates, and decline his tickets for The Masters.
My boss, who shall remain nameless, is like the brilliant professor that can cure polio but can’t tie his own shoes.

His socks, by the way, are cashmere and always match his shirt and/or tie. True story. He will ask me to do things for him that would take him less time if he did them himself, especially considering my workload. Sometimes he brings me his water bottle with a sad little look on his face and says “it’s empty. I’m thirsty.” As if he is required to hike 30 miles in the desert to get more water.
I take the bottle, go to the break room, get out our refrigerated case of Fiji (just for him—he doesn’t like the “taste” of any other waters) and he will watch me pour fresh water into his bottle (which actually wasn’t empty, by the way). A lot of people would find this frustrating, and on occasion I bite my tongue to keep from taking him by the hand and saying very gently “honey, put on your Big Boy Pants and do it yourself. It is really quite easy. Especially considering that the only other thing you will be doing for the next hour is deciding what color Hermes pocket square you want to order next.” But I don’t.
It is like babysitting a small child. A genius small child that can multiply your investments in a matter of years, but still…. It is teaching me patience. I am on the verge of becoming Zen.

I go to meetings nearly every day and scribble notes and action items like a maniac, things about our new REIT candidate, ROTHs versus regular IRAs (ROTHs are better, though it would take me a while to explain why to you), foreign stock investing and what emerging markets are reaching their peak, the benefits and drawbacks of small cap funds, and how to secure retirement income.
98% of the time they are speaking Swahili to me (up until a week ago, in my notes, REIT was Reete) but I am starting to kind of get it, and that is encouraging. Maybe one day (soon hopefully) I will be comfortable investing my own money and drawing up trusts and stuff like that.
I really enjoy the challenges here, the atmosphere, the camaraderie, and the fact that every day is different and unexpected--who knew I would have a knack for handles multiple crises??

Some of the financial advisors will come up to me suddenly and demand “HOW IS THE MARKET DOING?!” and I panic. I made the mistake before of saying “it is up” because on YahooFinance the green arrow was pointing up and it looking very friendly and promising and, well, increasing!
 When I told the advisor that he said “what?! Really?!” and checked for himself and then went into a round of expletives that don’t deserve repeating.
I am going to hang up my favorite Michelangelo quote in my cubicle:

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