Like many American boys, Michael Green dreamed he would one day play professional sports — either in the NFL or the major leagues. He made it as far as college, playing football for the Fighting Cardinals at the Catholic University of America. While he never entered the professional ranks, he did learn an important lesson during his sophomore year. The Cardinals were playing Georgetown University’s Hoyas, their crosstown rivals. The year before, Catholic University went into half time with a large lead, only to blow it — and the game — in the second half. This season, however, Catholic’s coach was not going to let that happen. “We finished the first half with a big lead. But our coach made sure we knew that we needed to play the second half as if the score was even. He was particularly… insistent,” Michael remembers with a smile.
The message paid off, and the Cardinals beat their rivals that year. Michael remembered the lesson ever since. “Sports teaches you not only how to deal with adversity, but also how to handle prosperity. If you sit on your laurels, you can end up losing a game you should have won. But if you continue to respect your opponent and stay focused on the fundamentals, you’ll win.”
The world of finance is not so different. “We can’t get too down in bear markets, nor too optimistic in bull markets,” he says. “We need to stay in touch with the fundamental processes in our decision making.”
After graduation, Michael moved on to the University of Notre Dame for a degree in law. It’s an experience he draws from frequently as a financial planner. “Law school cultivates your ability to look at a situation and identify the important issues, and then develop solutions to address them. It’s a skill that can be applied to a number of fields and professions, but I find it particularly useful in my own work, because planners are fundamentally problem solvers. We’re helping people identify and achieve their goals.”
Since school, Michael has served as a bank trust officer, and for a long period as the Director of Planned Giving at his alma mater, Catholic University. His work put him in touch with the specific needs and concerns of the affluent, and gave him a particular expertise in charitable gift planning. “Supporting causes you believe in can bring a great deal of satisfaction. By navigating the financial and tax planning landscape, I can help people link their resources with their values in ways that are financially and emotionally beneficial.”
That happens to be a good description of Michael’s approach to financial planning: Bring everything together. “In the planning process, you need to be comprehensive. There are many aspects to planning — budgeting, cash flow, tax issues, etc. — and they all need to harmonize. Going a step further, we recognize that a person’s financial plan is a component of his or her broader life, and its inherent relationships, goals, and dreams. By soundly managing the financial aspect, we free people up to focus on the things that really matter to them.”
And that’s why most people would benefit from a full time wealth manager. “It’s a time element,” he says. “People could probably do some of it, but it takes a lot of time. If they’re trying to squeeze their investment management and financial planning in between job and family duties, they’re not going to be very successful. Isn’t it more comforting to know that you have experts watching over your finances full time? That certainly provides more security — and financial safety — than trying to wing it on your own.”
For Michael, it all comes down to peace of mind. When you know your life is in order, you feel free. “It’s good to have discipline in your life — to have your ducks in a row, as they say. I enjoy feeling that way myself, and my role as a planner helps me share that with others. We’re not spouting numbers at people — we’re helping them achieve those things that bring them fulfillment.”