true WELLth Podcast: Linda Davis Taylor Episode Transcript

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Linda Davis Taylor:

You may think this is a little corny, but I think how much money we are going to be given, or how much money we have or don’t have, can be connected with love. I can’t tell you the number of conversations I’ve had with either beneficiaries or the people who were passing on their wealth. That it can be connected with “someone loved me more” or “someone loved you more,” and that’s very scary. So I think that money can be connected perhaps, unfortunately, with “someone loved me” or “someone didn’t love me.” And that’s a very, very challenging construct to deal with.

Announcer:

Hello, and welcome to the true WELLth podcast. This week, we’re going to dive into the world of financial wellbeing and explore how your relationship and confidence in regards to your knowledge around money affects so many aspects of yours and your family’s life.

Announcer:

Our guest for this week is Linda Davis Taylor. Linda is an expert when it comes to how we talk about and approach money. She currently hosts a podcast herself called “Money Stories with LDT” that explores the intersection of financial wellbeing and gender.

Announcer:

Linda brings a very unique and eclectic experience to her views on financial empowerment, drawing on her decades of experience and marrying her work at academia philanthropy and the financial sector. Let’s dive in.

Linda Davis Taylor:

I would say a number of people who I would meet early, 20 years ago, in the financial services business would be puzzled. They’d say, “Wait a minute. You were a college admission dean? And then you worked raising money? How does that equip you to be in the wealth management business?”

Linda Davis Taylor:

And, of course, there were many, many skills that I needed to learn about the business of money management. But, really the backdrop is always, to me, what’s the purpose of one’s financial assets? And whether it’s education, or whether it’s making an impact, or whether it’s philanthropy, or whether it’s just personal wellbeing, it’s that purpose.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And I think that really is a valuable lens to be involved in money management, because that’s where I found our clients live. Of course, they’re interested in how their assets are performing. But what they’re really interested in is the wellbeing of the people they care about. And financial resources contribute to that, of course.

Stan Hall:

Yeah. So let’s go into that more. To have that wellbeing aspiration, I imagine that decision doesn’t happen in a vacuum. So in taking a broader look beyond the bubble of your balance sheet, I’m guessing that would require defining what your goal for life is.

Linda Davis Taylor:

Well, I really appreciate that question. Because after a little while in the business, I began to be concerned, to jump off of your question, that more and more families really didn’t have that intentionally in their plan. And so about five years ago, I had a chance to do a project which resulted in a book that I wrote called The Business of Family.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And really, it was not about investing per sale. Although, of course, there were some tips in there. It was really about being intentional about the purpose. And so, having a strategy, if you will, for yourself or your family, whoever is important to you, is just as important on a personal basis and a family basis as it might be in a business.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And so, I think you’re right. Not all families or all people have that put together. But then I think if you can turn the light bulb on, then it really contributes to wellness because some of the things that might seem important from just a sheer financial standpoint, if you put those in context with your bigger picture, everybody’s going to do better.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And no, it’s not that simple. And people might quarrel with that, but it’s a way to get people into the mindset. Because if you had a business of any sort, you wouldn’t just leave it to chance and say, “Well, I hope that all works out.” Or you wouldn’t have one meeting with your team and you wouldn’t just leave it there. You would know that problems were going to come up, that things are going to change.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And so, that’s why I use that analogy. Just to get people thinking into that mindset. And, of course, one of the big challenges is that I think we don’t have enough practice in talking about money as young people, in our families, with our spouses. It’s still a difficult topic to talk about.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And so if you put the whole concept of your financial assets in that bigger sphere of, “What does it mean to be us,” is one of my favorite phrases to ask a family. Just think, what does it really mean to be you? What does it mean to be a part of your family? And then, that helps that whole purpose and can take some of the challenge or taboo away from talking about the money itself.

Linda Davis Taylor:

The other thing that I really try to encourage, and believe is so important, is financial education. Again, I go back to education because there’s no place in our society where financial aid education takes place on a consistent basis.

Linda Davis Taylor:

I don’t know about you, but no one I’ve spoken with. I’ve recently launched a podcast myself called “Money Stories,” and I’ve asked all my guests, “Hey, did you learn about financial matters when you were a kid or any time in school?” Always the answer is “no”.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And so that falls then. Where does that responsibility fall? It falls squarely back onto families. So that’s another part of this purpose, is embracing teaching our young people and the people we care about to be aware and as competent and confident as possible about this important aspect of their lives.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And one of the fears of wealth transition, I think we all know this is a huge demographic change, around the world where so much wealth is changing hands. There’s often fear sometimes in the family leaders. “Well, if I tell my kids or my grandkids, how much money there is, maybe that’s going to harm their ambitions, or maybe that’s going to take away purpose.” I believe it can actually be the opposite if it’s done well.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And I’ve seen that example many times. So that families say, “Look, this is part of your good fortune, and it’s also a part of your responsibility.” And teaching what it means to be a good steward, responsible steward, can actually increase the aspirations of the next generation. I have a lot of faith in the next generation, if we are as intentional as we should be about, again, about the education.

Stan Hall:

Rooted in Linda’s observation is this underlying thread of fear. Fear shapes so much of our lives. From the moment we are born, we develop fear as a tool of self-preservation. And in the beginning, they are relatively simple fears; falling, loud noises, being left alone. But as we grow older and mature, this self-preservation tool often grows more convoluted and sets up shop, governing other parts of our lives.

Stan Hall:

Now, this is not to say fear is bad, per se. The Greek tragedy in Aeschylus was quoted saying, “There are times when fear is good. It must keep its watchful place at our heart’s control.” Fear can be harnessed as a guardrail in the pursuit of moderation or in bodily safety. However, if unexamined, fear can grow like a weed. It will begin to influence more and more aspects of your life, perhaps without you knowing. And with the complexity, the fear response becomes harder and harder to remedy.

Linda Davis Taylor:

To me, fear comes from a lack of knowledge. And so, I really do have to you go back to this notion of education, understanding the fundamentals behind the construct of not only the… Many women are talked to about budgeting, and saving, and all of that. And I think that’s great, but investing is not always a topic that as many of us are taught about; or frankly, or might be as interested in as I think we should be.

Linda Davis Taylor:

So I think that’s fundamental. Because if you really have the knowledge, and you understand how the system works, and what the relationship is between what you own, and what you earn, and what you spend; then, to me, that can reduce the fear. But when we don’t have that context, then fear can be something that is easier to understand why that happens, because you don’t know how much you need. How do I know if a certain amount of money is enough if I don’t understand the whole context of how the system works?

Linda Davis Taylor:

So, to me, it’s fear is created by knowledge. And that’s either knowledge that’s that we don’t embrace enough. And that’s one challenge, is having all of us who are in the position to understand finances encourage constantly. And I do this with my daughters and all women I have a chance to speak with: Be aware, be informed, understand how it works, ask questions. And then on the other side, we need the best allies from men, and there are many as we can get, and also encouraging that.

Linda Davis Taylor:

One of the greatest philanthropists I ever knew, who really was an amazing woman and very influential. And I said to her, “How did you learn about philanthropy?” And she said, “Oh, from my father.” And I can’t tell you the number of women who’ve told me that. Now, it doesn’t have to be your father, and not every woman is going to have that opportunity, but a mentor can be very, very, very, very key. Men, women, both. Someone who encourages us and is willing to not only give us the theory, but give us the practical knowledge that it takes.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And this doesn’t happen just overnight. I’ve talked to many, many men over my life who’ve said, “Oh, my dad always told me about business, and how it worked, and how the stock market worked, and this and that.” And I don’t hear that as much from women. But when I do, it’s been tremendously impactful in their whole approach to money, and they don’t have that fear.

Stan Hall:

So, as a mother, how did you start that conversation with your own daughters around bridging the financial knowledge gap?

Linda Davis Taylor:

Well, I think, first of all, my own mother very clearly gave me the message that financial independence for women was of paramount importance. She did not work outside the home. I had four brothers and sisters. Very lively, busy household.

Linda Davis Taylor:

But she always made it very clear that financial independence and being able to understand topics and have one’s own confidence and competence about financial matters was key. So I had that example. Not so much because of what she did to her career, but her own philosophy. So, to me, having daughters, it was just always in there. It was just always something that I really have just been passionate about them having.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And I use those two words, the competence. So a certain amount of skill, the basics. We could all talk about what those basic skills are. And then the confidence to have conversations, to make decisions, and to be very aware of what one’s aspirations are with respect to financial wellbeing.

Linda Davis Taylor:

There’s no right or wrong answer to that. It’s not that everyone is trying to build up necessarily a fortune, but be aware that if you’re going to have an impact in the world. And that’s beginning with yourself, your family, your community, or larger matters that you want to impact. It always takes financial resources.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And believe it or not. I still talk to a lot of women, unfortunately, who I don’t think quite understand that as well as I wish they would. And that’s why financial literacy, if you will, or just understanding how the money system works, understanding what it takes to actually invest and grow your wealth, what it takes to have those habits is just foundational. Everyone says they want to have impact, again. And that’s all well and good, but the financial part of it has to be there.

Linda Davis Taylor:

Literacy, if I could say a word about literacy. I’m not even sure that literacy is the right word, because sometimes that gives people the message of, “Well, maybe I don’t know anything.” Literacy is okay, but I really like your term “financial wellness” better because that’s positive. Everyone wants to embrace wellness. And so, financial wellness is, in some ways, may be a little bit more of a positive term, and financial education.

Stan Hall:

Linda, how should one arm themselves, or start this pursuit of mitigating the fear around money? What are some good resources, or even starting points?

Linda Davis Taylor:

The good thing is today, there are so many resources out there. And there are amazing people who are financial advisors, financial planners, and who are particularly interested in this. I mentioned my own podcast that was launched a couple of months ago. And one of the first guests is an amazing woman named Amanda Clayman. And she’s actually a financial therapist. And a number of people said, “I didn’t know there was such a thing.” Well, just like there’s a nutritionist, there are also people who can help you. Not only with the skills, but with your own relationship to money. So there are terrific advisors out there.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And that’s one of the things about this particular time that we’re in, is there are podcasts, there are websites. You don’t have to be a millionaire to take advantage of some of those great skills. There are countless books. But it’s a matter of, again, embracing it and then finding someone or finding a resource that you don’t sense to be judgemental.

Linda Davis Taylor:

This is one of the things that young women tell me. They say, “Well, I don’t want to necessarily just work with someone who tells me what I shouldn’t do, but someone who encourages me.” And this is important. Every single person on my podcast. And I always ask them about their own experiences.

Linda Davis Taylor:

What have they said? They’ve said, “Sure, I’ve made mistakes. We all have things, perhaps financial decisions, that maybe we would do differently. But it’s like everything else in life, it’s getting a little bit better, getting a little bit better, getting a little bit better. And just keeping at it all the time, keeping this financial wellbeing in our awareness, just as we would anything else.”

Stan Hall:

As an expert on aligning one’s relationship with money to their wellbeing, I’m curious on how your personal story fits into that framework.

Linda Davis Taylor:

Well, I think we all have our own money story. And I certainly do. One of the things that I talk about is that I came from a family where my father was an entrepreneur. He was in a business in the South in the oil business. It wasn’t a traditional business that women would go into. So I was encouraged not to go into business, but to go into education, which I did.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And I had many great experiences in that. But about 25 years into it, I really came to terms with myself, “You know what? I really do want to make more money than I’m going to in this field. And I’m actually very interested in business.” So that was not until I was in my late forties that I actually accepted that.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And being financially successful is something that I had to, for my own self, realize, “You know what? I’m not ashamed of this. This is something that is important to me because there are a lot of things I’d like to impact with financial resources, a lot of institutions I would like to see get better. And if I’m able to have my own resources, I have a chance to do that.”

Linda Davis Taylor:

So again, we’re all always learning. And if I could have changed anything, and this is why I’m so passionate about this, is understanding oneself early enough to really make those intentional decisions, and believing that it’s okay and even great to want to be financially successful, this is where I still find not that many women actually talking to me about the fact that they really want to be financially successful in order to impact the world.

Linda Davis Taylor:

Now, many women talk to me about wanting to be professionally successful, but they don’t always link the dollars in there. And I think that is something that we should be proud of that, that we want to do that. Because, again, back to our earlier conversation about women’s impact, the more we have a chance to influence significant resources, the more the things we care about are going to thrive.

Stan Hall:

Linda, before we go, I’d love to get your thoughts on the future and how we are going to implement these systemic cultural changes that need to happen to bring more women into the financial world conversation and empower more people with financial knowledge.

Linda Davis Taylor:

Well, I have a little bit of maybe a call to action to schools, colleges, and universities; is to find a way to establish a financial education program in the institutions. We did this at Scripps College, where I had a chance to be a board member, and worked with so many outstanding graduates.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And so, now there is a program where students and graduates can learn those basic skills from budgeting and saving, and credit and investing, and salary negotiation. And they do this in a context of great mentors and teachers who encourage these skills right alongside the curriculum. So that’s a real call to action that I think those of us involved in the profession can support.

Linda Davis Taylor:

And the other is for women to realize that financial services itself is a great career path. We need more great women going into financial advisory firms. Many of their clients are going to be women, and it’s a great career path that I think not enough women are pursuing.

Linda Davis Taylor:

I’m on a mutual fund board now, and we’re trying to encourage diversity in asset management. And so it’s both ways. It’s the pipeline of young women, knowing what the opportunities are, and it’s the institutions having diversity and inclusion as a part of their own corporate policies that will really impact this.

Stan Hall:

My takeaways for this episode are, one, talk with your family about wealth and what your goals are as a family unit. All too often, we hear stories of families getting split up when an inheritance comes into the picture. It’s best to break the taboo and align your family to the same shared goal.

Stan Hall:

Two, financial fear is often rooted in a lack of knowledge, and especially so with something as complex as our financial system. It’s easy to understand how it can be all too overwhelming. If you are on the side of the fence that needs help grasping the world of finance, find a financial advisor or mentor. And if you’re on the other side, and have a good understanding of what makes a healthy financial picture, spread the knowledge, reach out to your friends and family.

Stan Hall:

Three. We have a lot of work ahead of us to bring our society up to speed on financial wellness. Financial education is not widely taught in primary schools or colleges. Yet, a lack of understanding can be detrimental in one’s life; and pair that with the need for more diversity broadly across the financial industry, both in gender and ethnicity; and we have quite the challenge ahead. The work is on all of us to encourage, educate, and speak up, to make the financial industry better and more diverse.

Stan Hall:

To learn more about Linda, you can visit our show notes page at truewellthpodcast.com. There, we will have links to Linda’s books, her websites, and episodes of her podcast, “Money Stories with LDT.” I highly recommend you check it out. If you like today’s show, our team would be much obliged if you left us a review on iTunes, or just tell your friends about us. If you have questions for the team, you can reach us at truewellthpodcast.com. And that’s W-E-L-L-T-H.com. Until next time.

Stan Hall:

The true WELLth podcasts are made possible by Brighton Jones. Whether you want to save for the future, or celebrate today, get back to the community or explore the globe, Brighton Jones believes your values are every bit as unique as your fingerprints. Brighton Jones aligns your time and resources to those values, so you can go after the things that you truly care about.

Stan Hall:

Explore your richer life at brightonjones.com. Today’s episode was edited and produced by Stan Hall; alongside the rest of our true WELLth team, Michael Stubel, Marc Asmus, Lindsey Hurt, Tara McElroy, and John Dougherty. To get in touch with the team, visit truewellthpodcast.com.