Investing & Economy

"Marathon, Not a Sprint"

Advisor uses triathlon lessons to educate clients

“Investing is a marathon, not a sprint” is a metaphor financial companies and business journalists sometimes use to describe long-term investment strategies.

However, when Ari Baum uses the analogy with his clients, he speaks from personal experience as a competitive marathon runner and Ironman triathlete.

Baum, founder and CEO of Endurance Wealth Partners in New York City, often uses sports metaphors with clients to convey financial concepts while avoiding Wall Street jargon.

“Part of the reason our company is called Endurance Wealth Partners is this core belief that sports is a microcosm for life,” said Baum, who is also a CFP®. “We can learn a lot through sports, and then translate those experiences into life lessons.”

One example is useful when talking with clients who need to accumulate millions of dollars in their 401(k)s or IRAs to retire comfortably. Some people have trouble envisioning themselves saving that much money.

Baum head“A parallel is to think of a person wanting to run a marathon,” Baum explained. “It’s hard to imagine running 26.2 miles all at once. But you can run one mile 26.2 times. So, when someone asks, ‘How am I going to reach $2 million in one shot?’, I tell them, ‘That option doesn't exist.’ People have to take small steps over time and gradually work up to something bigger.”

Another analogy is particularly appropriate during the market turmoil in recent months. Baum said many people hear horror stories about marathoners “hitting the wall” at mile 20 of the 26.2-mile race and their bodies shutting down. Runners specifically train for the challenges of mile 20 so they are prepared to power through the discomfort and cross the finish line.

“The same thing happens with investing,” Baum said. “There are times when the market is scary and ugly. No one could foresee COVID-19 happening last year, or the 2008 recession. Similarly, we prepare people mentally for the investing ‘mile 20’ by creating a written financial plan. When mile 20 comes financially, you are prepared; you know what to expect.”

When people are under stress, Baum continued, they tend to make poor financial decisions. Money triggers a number of emotional factors that advisors can help them address. Automated trading platforms and robo-advisors cannot prevent people from making the wrong choice, such as exiting investments when the market plummeted in March 2020.

“That’s scary because the market came roaring back soon afterwards,” Baum noted. “Many people missed out on the recovery because they panicked. If they had someone to speak with, that advisor might have found they were taking more risk in their portfolios than they could tolerate, for example. People need an advisor who is proactively connecting and communicating with them to fill their needs.”

Retirement planning also requires taking a long-term view of both financial and psychological factors. For the monetary aspects, Endurance Wealth Partners has various tools to help clients first determine how they want their lifestyle to look when they retire. Once clients and advisors budget their expenses and income, EWP can create a plan to help them meet those goals without outliving their money.

Arison“The other aspect of retirement we see a lot of people struggling with is mental health,” Baum said. “Most people start working in their early 20s and continue into their mid-sixties or seventies. They become their job or their profession: they are known as the lawyer, the accountant, or the doctor. Then when they retire, it's difficult for them to adjust to life beyond work.”

With people living longer, he noted, more people can have a work-optional retirement.

“If you want to work because you enjoy doing what you are doing, that’s great. Their second act may be doing something they always wanted to do but did not because it does not make money. That is okay too: you do not have to just sit at home all day. What’s point of saving and investing all this money for retirement if you’re not going to be able to enjoy it?”

The financial industry’s orientation towards short-term results over long-term growth creates another challenge, Baum said. Many clients get their information from news channels where analysts mainly focus on quarterly earnings.

“Imagine that the house you live in had a phone app or a ticker tape telling you the real-time market price of your home,” he said. “One day the price is $1.2 million; later it’s $900,000; then it’s back up to $1.1 million. That could drive you crazy and might lead you to make an emotional decision. It’s better to sit back and say, ‘I live here, and I’ll be here for the next 20 or 30 years. What difference does the price make?’ Similarly, when it comes to investing, it shouldn't matter so much what happens in the short term.”

He added, “The people that are sitting at the top of Forbes billionaire list are investors. I haven't seen any day traders there.”

When Baum explains investing through the lens of sports, he said, people can better understand and relate to the underlying principles. Financial education and knowledge make them less likely to make an emotional decision at the wrong time.

“The events and experiences I have had while swimming, biking, and running competitively have made me the best I can be for my clients,” he added. “Delayed gratification through training means better results on race day. The same is true for investors: delaying use of your money for the future enables you to do more.”

For more information on Endurance Wealth Partners, visit:


Related Articles

© 2017-2021 Advisors Magazine. All Rights Reserved.Design & Development by The Web Empire