I’m a geek, I can’t help it.
I mean, I tried many things in my life: I worked as a radio anchor, I owned and managed a co-working space, I’ve been tango teacher and many more. But truth is that the deep fascination with computers that I experienced since I was 16 years old (and back then many computers were still programmed with punch cards), never fade out. 30 years later, I still enjoy tremendously to dig into code, to compile some edgy app or to write a quick piece of software. Not to mention that I’m currently working as a full stack developer, which, needless to mention, makes me very happy.
In my geek life I learned and applied more than a dozen of programming languages. And the impact of this activity went way beyond the professional level. As a matter of fact, I realized that many approaches used in software development can be successfully applied in other areas of life. Like, for instance, in wealth management.
What follows is a quick list of actionable, easy to understand principles that helped me keep a healthy financial discipline. I hope you will find some inspiration in them too.
Without further ado, let’s start.
1. Use Source Version Control
Serious coders use version control – which is a simple name for a complicated process, in which all your code is tracked and organized into versions and branches, in such a way that all the features are easily retrievable. An app without source control is just a big, hairy mess, in which you spend more time looking for information than actually writing code.
Likewise, use a journal of your wealth related activities. If you have many source of income, keep a strict account of all of them, with as much metadata as you can (time spent, necessary skills, market evolution, etc).
Stay organized because the world is moving very fast. The traditional “one life, one career” paradigm is not valid anymore, you need to be ready to switch paths fat and clean. Keeping a journal of what works and what doesn’t will make this process simpler.
2. Fanout Data
This approach is so new that even experienced coders are having a bit of difficulty to grasp it. I’m not going to explain it in detail – this is not a coding tutorial, by the way – but I will just say that, according to this principle, if you want a blazingly fast app, your data should be denormalized. Which means you should save the same data in many places, in order to retrieve it very, very fast when you need it. Apps like Twitter, or WhatsApp are extensively using technologies built on top of this principle.
Subsequently, try not to keep your eggs in the same basket. And I’m talking about plain old money, here, folks. Keep a few different accounts, possibly with different providers. Don’t keep all your assets liquids, like all your money in a single account, at a single bank.
Diversify your placements: try edgy things (like cryptocurrency, for instance) and keep a neat and clean list of all these assets. The main idea is to have access fast to any of those assets, when the time will come.
3. Thin Clients And Backend As A Service
Traditional web apps were using at least 4-5 layers of interaction. You usually had the browser, the database server, the web server, the scripting language and the operating system (something known as a LAMP stack, for those interested in acronyms: Linux, Apache, MySql, PHP). Modern approaches like AngularJs and MongoDB (don’t worry if you don’t understand these names, you don’t have to) are significantly changing this paradigm: now everything happens directly in the client and the huge backend is delegated (BAAS, or backend as a service).
How does this apply to wealth management? Well, stay flexible. You don’t have to immerse full body into something, if you can minimize your time while at the same time maximize your revenue. Stay thin in your value generating process. If something doesn’t go right, change the backend. For instance, you can try consulting for a while, but if the market takes a dip, you can always switch to coding or project management. As long as you’re flexible, you can move way faster.
4. Agile Sprints
Agile is a code development methodology with hundreds of thousands of fans, if not more. According to this methodology, planning should be kept relative to the current moment, and the work should be done in “sprints”, or 2-3 weeks of push, at the end of which an analytical process will identify what’s working and what’s not.
How do you apply this in wealth management? Well, don’t rush into something at full speed. Stay aware of the current context, plan your investment (being time, money or skills) and see what happens. If at the end of the “sprint” something doesn’t feel right, analyze, correct and start over. The principle here is to always be in sync with your reality, don’t expect that what worked yesterday to still work tomorrow.
5. Constantly Update Your Operating System
Most of the time, people who get their computers hacked are simply not updating their operating systems. Bugs are happening all the time, but they’re usually fixed quite fast and new versions are shipped constantly. If you keep your operating system reasonably updated, chances for intrusion are minimal. That’s a lesson I learned the hard way.
It’s the same in wealth management. If you have investments or placements (and by that I understand even a small deposit in a bank) then you should stay updated. Read the related news. Subscribe to the institution newsletter. Follow up on forums. Negligence is not an excuse for getting hacked (and in the case of wealth management, “getting hacked” simply means losing the value of your investment).
6. Separate Logic From Presentation
In software development, this principle means that your data processing should happen in a different place than the one you’re presenting it. Data presentation and data logic are two different activities. Keeping them in different places keeps things in order, makes the app easier to debug and to maintain.
In wealth management, you should always be keen on what’s under the hood. Many activities (from jobs to investment vehicles) are presented in a very attractive way. But keep in mind this separation principles and always try to look at how the data is actually organized before being presented: is that investment vehicle valid, or just vaporware? Is the company proposing you a great job able to survive in the market for at least one year?
7. Learn To Debug
In software development, debugging is fundamental. Debugging is a skill almost as complex as writing code, but few programmers are aware of that, until they find their first wall to be hit with their innocent head. Or, like Mike Tyson says: “Everybody has a plan, until they get punched in the face”. So, learning how to debug your app, creating the habit of spotting defective coding patterns can literally save you hundreds of hours of work (and a lot of money).
Likewise, in wealth management, learn to spot defective processes or recurring thinking patterns that are leading to losses. Try to understand why you’re finding yourself in a less than desirable spot, financially speaking. There are reasons for that, learn to identify them and to avoid them. It’s not karma, it’s you. Learn how to own your mistakes, how to learn from them and how to avoid them in the future. Learn to debug your way to wealth.
So, even if you’re not a geek, I hope you found the tips in this article useful. Would love to hear your own in the comments.