Did you ever play in a band?
I did in high school. It was a small affair, and we weren’t very good. There were only about a dozen of us: a couple of flutes, clarinets, and a bassoon, some trumpets and trombones, a drummer, and I played the French horn. Our school didn’t have a big instrumental tradition, and the school itself was pretty small.
But we had a lot of fun, and we learned a lot about music and performing and practice and friendship and teamwork and many other skills along the way. One of the most important was listening: listening to our conductor as he coached and prodded and begged us to play together; listening to each other as we waited for the right moment start or stop; listening to ourselves as we tried desperately to stay in tune and to hit the right notes.
Listening is critically important when we’re investing, too. We need to listen to the markets, of course, as they gyrate and turn and tumble along the way. Their sound, as often as not, seems more like a cacophony than a concert, to be sure. But sometimes there’s a signal amidst the noise. More importantly, though, we need to listen to ourselves: our needs, desires, and dreams, the goals we have for our lives and our money. We need to listen to our limitations: how much time we have; how liquid our assets need to be; do we need to draw from our savings, or can we afford to reinvest the income; what legal and tax-deferred structures are available to us; and are there any other issues we’re concerned about.
There’s a reason why bands are so popular at school. The precision and training and uniforms and spirit-filled music can be great fun. But after the instruments have been put away, perhaps gathering dust in the attic, their lessons are still with us. If we listen carefully, we can still hear them.
Douglas R. Tengdin, CFA
Charter Trust Company
“The Best Trust Company in New England”