Her Financial Fitness

In her new book, “Does This Make My Assets Look Fat?: A Woman’s Guide To
Finding Financial Empowerment And Success,
” JP Morgan financial adviser
Susan Hirshman compares wealth management to something women tend to be
familiar with: dieting. After all, healthy eating and healthy money management
share a lot in common; both require planning and discipline, and both produce
results when done right. Here, Hirshman talks about the impetus for the book,
how to discern between healthy choices and financial “junk food,” and her most
crucial piece of advice for first-time investors.

Why did you decide to write a financial
guide for women? What financial issues do women in particular tend to face?

Women tend not to be the breadwinners as they have oftentimes been out
of the workforce to raise a family, and culturally it hasn’t been the norm for
women to be involved in financial planning. Women are also living a lot longer
than men; that combined with higher divorce rates means many women are forced
to take a look at their financial situations after not doing so for much of
their lives.

You compare maintaining a balanced diet to
maintaining a balanced financial portfolio. From an investment perspective,
what do you consider to be “junk food”?

Junk food is anything that sounds too good to be true. For example,
anything that promises a consistent 12 percent return, or a tip like a small
cap stock that’s going to be the next Apple. Anything that has you placing too
much of your assets into something high-risk is never a good choice.

What would you consider to be some
“healthy” financial choices?

In my book I relate each of the basic asset classes to the four basic
food groups. Equities are like carbs and protein; they power your body. Cash is
like fruits and veggies (but too much cash can be a bad thing as cash doesn’t
keep up with inflation). Bonds are like dairy products; they can help build the
“bones.” Alternative investments are like fats in that a little can go a long
way, but not everyone can stomach the volatility.

What would you say to someone who feels
completely overwhelmed by the thought of investing?

I hear you, I get it, you’re not alone! The number one reason people
feel overwhelmed about investing is, where are we supposed to learn this? We
don’t learn any financial advice in school. But there are resources out there
to help you. It’s not going to take you hours to educate yourself and you’re
not going to have to do it alone.
For savvier investors, my best advice is to understand your goals. Think of it
as what are your “must-haves,” your “nice-to-haves” and your “aspirational”
goals? Food and shelter are must-haves. Nice-to-haves are any extras, and
aspirational goals are your big dreams.

Any advice for someone considering hiring a
financial adviser?

There are three main things to keep in mind. First, if the adviser is
always talking about themselves and how they do what they do, that’s a bad
sign. If it’s not about you as an individual investor, that’s a sign that they
will treat all of their clients the same. Next, make sure to ask them about
their process. You want to know how they decide what’s right for you and
why.  Finally, make sure you feel comfortable with them. Money is a
sensitive topic and you need to feel comfortable with this person. A great way
to find a financial adviser is to ask someone whose profile looks like yours—they
have a similar job, live in a similar home, etc. If you don’t know anyone like
that to ask, try your accountant or your lawyer for a referral since you
already trust them with your sensitive information.

Do you have one overall piece of advice for
first-time investors?

Do it sooner rather than later. Too many bad things happen to good
women. In the wake of this last financial crisis, I heard a lot of, “if I only
knew…” Don’t be a part of the “if only” crowd.

Relevant Directory Listings

See More

The Ailey School – First Steps and Bounding Boys

<blockquote style="color: #222222; font-family: Arial, Helvetica, sans-serif; font-size: small; background-color: #ffffff;"> <div dir="ltr"> <div class="m_-3740164643787738207m_4977048992707393770WordSection1"> <p class="MsoNormal" style="margin: 0px;"><span style="color: #0070c0;">At The Ailey School, FIRST STEPS offers a structured creative movement curriculum that allows girls (ages 3-6) and boys (age 3), to develop body awareness and control and learn the basics of dance technique. BOUNDING BOYS (ages 4-6) provides a more athletic experience, and an energetic approach to teaching dance skills.</span></p> </div> </div> </blockquote>

USC Gymnastics & Baseball Training Facility

<p><span style="font-size: 10pt; font-family: Arial;" data-sheets-value="{" data-sheets-userformat="{">We offer sports activities, after school programs, birthday parties & private lessons for kids ages 3–13 years! Our gymnastics classes are a great way to keep your child active and healthy. We strive to empower and challenge children through the sport of gymnastics.</span></p>

Collina Italiana, The Italian Language and Cultural Center

<p>Learn Italian the fun way. Children practice and absorb the language through arts & crafts, activities, games, songs and stories!</p>