Respecting The Role of Emotion in Investing

Just under 30 years ago, John Browning, MBA, CSA®, CEO and Principal of Guardian Rock Wealth, began his financial career in customer service – not as an analyst as one might expect. This unique early experience introduced him to client priorities that aren’t taught in any financial institution and cemented his inclination to serve as a true fiduciary, not just an advisor. The calling card that has defined Browning’s professional career is holistic investment strategies that are fully personalized to the client’s lifestyle and values. More than that, he is an investor who respects the prime truth of investing and uses it to his clients’ advantage.

“The reality is you can’t take the emotions out of investing,” Browning says. “It’s a very emotionally driven market. At Guardian Rock Wealth, we apply the tricks of the trade we’ve learned from the greatest minds on Wall Street to the individual,” he says. “Whether the goal is retirement or legacy planning, we focus on what is important to the individual.”

As a true fiduciary, Browning prides himself on much more than the bottom line. His philosophy on life is about concerning yourself with things that you like to do rather than worrying every day about your portfolio. “Designing your portfolios so that your assets support your dreams is our core value,” he said.

A core value is defined and quantified by the principles that it creates. Browning has infused Guardian Rock Wealth with a first principle that will likely bring a sigh of relief to many investors – simplify the complex.

browning quoteMaking the complex simple is a two-way street. Browning and Guardian prioritize the fiduciary responsibility to put client interests before their own, but also want clients to stay involved with the process. To facilitate the relationship, Browning keeps the industry jargon to a minimum.

“The average person may have trouble reading all of the legal and financial terminology in financial documents,” he says. “I believe it is my fiduciary responsibility to ensure that the client understands the major points.”

As Browning implies, tying a client portfolio to specific client needs requires more than technical market knowledge. Making investments perform on this level also requires knowledge of the client – and this leads directly into the second principle that upholds the core value of Guardian Rock Wealth.

“Our second principle is to gain a deep understanding of our client’s goals and dreams. We do that by asking really good questions, listening a lot and clarifying,” Browning discloses.

Marshaled by Browning, Guardian’s three principles have given its clients access to the secrets of Wall Street. The most guarded of these secrets – using values to inform investments – moves counter to much of the layman’s advice that the average investor hears in the periphery. The prevailing wisdom tells us to take the emotion out of investing, or even worse, trust our future and legacy to mindless robo-platforms that have no way to connect a portfolio to its actual use for the investor.

“There is a very large percentage of Americans that have no retirement savings even in their 40s. People tend to think that expenses go down after retirement, but eventually, those expenses begin to rise as you need more and more services. It’s not uncommon to spend $10,000 a month or more on a long-term care facility or an in-house caretaker to do the things that you can no longer physically do,” warns Browning. “Finance and emotion certainly mix in this situation. It takes a concerned fiduciary to navigate this, like steering a ship in a hurricane. You don’t pretend the hurricane isn’t there. You acknowledge and plan for it, at times bending with it to thrive within it.”

Browning also tailors portfolios to passions that expand the life experience as well as protect it.

“You can’t put a number on the satisfaction that a person gets from being able to send a child to the college of their choice. For other people this satisfaction comes from going to a tropical island or climbing Mount Everest. I’ve been helping make investments work specifically towards goals like this for my entire career.”

Browning also has a soft spot for investors who are just starting out.

“We do have a not-so-firm firm minimum of $250,000 of investable assets, because in rare occasions we do take smaller accounts. As long as they really commit to building their assets with us over time, we can help.”

It can be difficult to find a true fiduciary in a financial world dominated by volume-based business, hefty commissions, a lack of transparency and bad advice. The rarity of Browning’s convictions may be exactly what has given him such a long and successful career on Wall Street and as a trusted financial consultant.

“There are people, unfortunately in every industry, that are going to be unscrupulous. You need to know your financial advisor. You want to sit down with them, talk with them – frankly, you want to visit their Facebook page.” Browning advises.

“I would even look for personal references. It’s long, consistent actions over time that tell you if a person is trustworthy.”

For more information about Guardian Rock Wealth, visit:


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