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Spencer Sherman

The reason I got into this business

In 1987, I earned my MBA from Wharton and began working for a large brokerage firm in Philadelphia. It was exciting to get up each morning, stride past Independence Hall, where the Constitution was adopted, and arrive at my stately corporate office. But disillusionment came quickly. Like all commission-based firms, the firm I worked for expected me to sell products and investments—helping clients was secondary. I began to dream of partnering with my clients to help them make big financial decisions and use their money in the most beneficial ways. I wanted to feel completely free to help them without any conflicts of interest. I had a big vision but as yet no plan.

Then came the conflagration: It was the worst commercial fire in Philadelphia’s history. It not only destroyed much of the building, but it totaled my computer and all my client files. Yet it was the necessary catalyst for me to create a financial firm like no other. I set up an office in the sunroom of my home and began to identify the necessary ingredients for delivering the best returns and financial advice. I discovered that the key is keeping emotion out of the equation. And the best way to manage emotion is to create structures, such as the Rainbow Portfolio® (an ultra-diversified, rigorous investment program), which protects my clients from making emotion-based investment, business, gifting and spending decisions.

I had to acknowledge that my Ivy League MBA didn’t help me forecast the markets, so I stopped trying. (Many academic studies confirmed what I knew—that your odds of winning a lottery are better than your odds of predicting the markets consistently. The vast majority of professionals trail the brainless indices.)

People made big changes in their lives as a result of our work. Their time was freed up to devote to the things they loved. They retired earlier or worked less. They gave more to philanthropy and transferred gifts to family members sooner rather than later. I helped clients transition wealth to the next generation, and helped those who were heavily invested in real estate to diversify. I helped others, who had the bulk of their assets in one company, to create a portfolio that would minimize risk. And I wrote The Cure for Money Madness so that I could share my secrets of financial success with others.

Two decades, a billion dollars in assets and 30 employees later, I look back at that fire and see that I was reborn on the ashheap of those client files to help people use their financial resources in the most productive and satisfying ways, and to leave a legacy of abundance and ease.

One thing I’m doing to help the planet

Working to reverse climate change is my biggest passion, and it has the potential to unite every human being on earth.

Outside of work, my passions include

  • Cycling. I met my wife on a bicycle in the Canadian Rockies in the summer of 1993.
  • Meditation and yoga are part of my daily practices to keep me balanced, centered and calm.
  • Playing guitar—I just started playing again after a 40-year break.
  • Backpacking and hiking with my wife and kids.

One goal I’m saving for

A family trip to Bhutan, Cambodia, New Zealand and Great Britain.

Primary way I’m advancing my career knowledge

The most important way I develop my practice is by understanding myself and my clients and the conditioning we bring to money and decision-making. This was the genesis of The Cure for Money Madness, the book I wrote in 2009 about money and emotion, showing that unmanaged emotion often leads to poor business and financial decisions. Here’s an Ignite talk I recently gave on the dirtiest word in the English language, “enough.”


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