Happy Holidays – Lessons from Star Wars

December 29, 2016

Grandsons Matthew and Henry and I went to the see "Rogue One: A Star Wars Story" yesterday. With Carrie Fisher (Princess Leia) having passed away in the morning, it was a surreal experience. Even so, we all loved it. This is the eighth Star Wars film, all of which have been commercial blockbusters, amassing combined box office earnings of $7 billion. But did you know that the Star Wars films have also provided some great financial lessons as well? With thanks to wealthmanagement.com for the idea, here are some of the key ones:


There is tremendous power in holistic planning. Young Luke Skywalker’s advisor Obi Wan Kenobi ("OWK") taught him that the Force, an energy field created by all living things that binds the galaxy together, is the source of his power. In the same way, a well-developed holistic financial plan can give you tremendous power to meet your goals. Of course, once implemented, the plan needs regular monitoring and modifications as conditions and goals change.


Stick to the Plan. Do you remember when Luke was just a neophyte, learning the ways of the Force, and the skeptical Han Solo, disregarding the advisors like OWK pushed Luke to be a risk-taker, like him? After Luke got distracted by Solo’s taunts, OWK reminded him to trust his plan instead of making knee-jerk reactions. While things got rocky along the way, Luke eventually reached his goal- to become a Jedi Knight. It’s an important lesson. You need to stick to your plan, particularly with investments. Trust in your plan and your allocations and focus on long-term goals.


Quick and Easy Leads to the Dark Side. In the 1980s, the Jedi Master Yoda taught Luke about the Dark Side. Yoda told Luke that chasing instant gratification, like investing heavily in a hot stock, can lead to ruin. When Luke ignores the advice, he’s almost defeated by Darth Vader. Yoda reminds us that patience is a key in investing. At DWM, we firmly believe that you should adopt an appropriate, diversified asset allocation and stay fully invested. Don’t try to time the markets or chase performance. Stay disciplined.


Value is the key. Despite his other issues, Han Solo does understand value. Luke was shocked when Solo initially disclosed his fees to pilot them across the galaxy in the Millennium Falcon. Luke said he could buy and pilot his own starship for less, but OWK knew expertise can command a fair price and even offered to spend more to ensure results. Yes, value is the key. Expertise and honesty command a fair price and offer the best possibilities of helping you get to your lifetime destinations.


Family is everything. In "Star Wars VII: The Force Awakens," Solo played the role of advisor to next generation heroes Rey and Finn, but was unable to guide his own son Ben. As a result, Ben disregarded Luke Skywalker's teachings and sought out the advice of Snoke and converted to the dark side, as the evil Kylo Ren. At DWM, our focus is on families. We do our best to meet, understand and communicate with everyone, sometimes three or four generations, and, as part of our total wealth management service, provide financial assistance to all family members, regardless of the size of their current investment portfolio.


Use a Fiduciary. Along with Yoda’s warning about the quick, easy and seductive dark side, the heroes of Star Wars are frequently working not just for themselves, but in the best interest of the galaxy. General Leia (no longer a princess) formed the Resistance when the First Order rose to power in the ashes of the Empire. The evil First Order did not support plans made in the best interests of the galaxy. Finn abandoned the First Order after he was asked to attack innocent villagers and used his knowledge to aid the resistance. Unfortunately, there are many providers in the financial service industry that are part of the quick, easy and seductive dark side. Align yourself with advisers who are fiduciaries, legally bound to put your interests first, and who are passionate about adding value and helping you reach your goals.


May The Force Be With You Always!