In this week’s episode of Success Stories, she speaks with Catherine Robson about the behaviours of incredibly successful investors, why it was never her plan to work on Wall Street and shares her best career advice.
Earning an MBA at Harvard Business School, Lisa also holds a dual degree in applied mathematics and economics and prior to joining Morgan Stanley served as Chief Investment Officer at Merrill Lynch Global Wealth Management. She also spent 18 years with Alliance Bernstein is several senior roles including Head of Global Wealth Equities.
Thanks to some incredible mentors over the course of her career, including the legendary Lewis Sanders, Lisa knows the hallmarks of extremely successful investors.
“What I’ve learned from the best mentors that I’ve had is two things. One; an unbelievably consistent discipline process. They have a framework. They know who they are and how they are applying their framework. They are consistent and disciplined and they know themselves. They know they’re own biases and they either try to create teams around them or processes around them to balance their own biases” says Lisa.
“The second thing is an ability, I sometimes like to call it a nose but it’s really experience, to be able to separate noise from the signal. We live in this information age where, over the 27 years of my career, the noise is loud. You hear it, you see it on the TVs of every trading floor. You get it from the computer screen, you have it in your pocket. Being able to separate ‘Ok, I’m seeing 50 of these headlines about topic X but topic X really doesn’t matter to the decisions at hand that I’m making’; that’s very hard because the human brain sometimes has recency bias.”
There is no denying our natural human tendencies can make investing tricky. When push comes to shove, Lisa believes many investors succumb to the noise and let emotions take over.
“Individual investors have two choices, they can truly be buy and hold investors in which case a long term, even passive oriented strategy like those advocated by luminaries like John Bogle can be very powerful. Or, they can engage the help of an advisor or advisor like structure to impose discipline.” she says.
“The buy and hold investor, they’re a long term investor until markets go down for five weeks in a row. That’s what I say to all of my clients ‘We’re all long term investors until the market goes down and then we find out who we really are’” she laughs.
“Figure out really what your fortitude is and if you know yourself and you’re the type of person that loses sleep when the market goes down, get some kind of advisory mechanism. Whether it’s a human being or some kind of robo advisor or a combination of both to help you stay the course.”
With over 27 years in the industry and one of the most influential women in wealth management, Lisa has a few gems of powerful career advice.
“The biggest piece of career advice that I give is; remember that feedback is a gift. Very rarely do we get good constructive feedback and when we get it, very often having grown up in a society where many successful people are used to getting A’s and B’s, the sense of getting feedback is an affront, it’s a threatening thing; it has negative connotations” she says.
“In fact, constructive feedback is all about growth, we’re never done growing.”
She also points out the benefits of pushing well beyond the comfort zone and saying yes to opportunities, even when they appear a little risky.
“Be very open to career risk-taking when something is offered to you. The reason I say that is none of us grow up knowing what we’re going to do. I certainly never sat in a room and said ‘Oh I want to be a Chief Investment Officer of a wealth management business’; I didn’t even know what it was!” says Lisa.
“But along the way, there were moments where people said to me ‘Lisa I’d like you to consider this position or taking on this additional responsibility.’”
“There were often times where it seemed to make sense to me but there were a few times where it was like ‘really?’ and it was the ‘really’ moments that were the push.” she says.
“What I say to people is trust that sometimes other people see things in you that you don’t yet see in yourself and take the risk. You owe it to yourself”.