Follow trends but don’t get enamored. When the Internet first got started there were a lot of companies with high valuations but no profits. There were no fundamentals and so there was a significant financial loss by a majority of the people who followed that trend.
As a part of my series about the The 5 Essentials of Smart Investing, I had the pleasure of interviewing Eric D. Coleman.
Eric D. Coleman is an Atlanta-based investment advisor, entrepreneur and chemical engineer who collectively spent more than 25 years between Dow Inc. and Union Carbide. He achieved financial success and independence by making sound decisions throughout the course of his career. Through the firm he founded, The Eric D. Coleman Financial Group, his mission is to educate and empower generations of individuals who take charge of their personal finances and become wealth builders. He is the author of the highly acclaimed book “Not by Accident: The Blessed Journey of Eric Coleman.” He earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering from the University of Kentucky and the Georgia Institute of Technology, and a Master of Business Administration degree from Northwood University. He also has an Honorary Doctor of Laws degree from West Virginia State University.
Thank you for doing this with us! Our readers would like to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us the “backstory” about what brought you to the finance industry?
I come from very modest means. Growing up, my parents were at the time what was considered “working poor” with very limited financial knowledge. As a result, any borrowing they did came with extremely high interest rates and many predatory lending practices. They never really understood the true cost of debt, so everything was compounded. By learning to minimize the impact of compound interest while managing and allocating my own cash efficiently. I achieved financial independence at the age of 40. I did so while investing in real estate, stocks and businesses. I began that journey when I was 33. Over time, I created a four-step process that will allows other people to achieve financial independence. Now I teach that same process through my business; allowing below average and average earners to achieve financial independence and build wealth.
Can you share with our readers the most interesting or amusing story that occurred to you in your career so far? Can you share the lesson or take away you took out of that story?
A good friend and colleague of mine use to tell me about two stocks that he was investing in and encouraged me to do the same. I did not take his advice at the time and thought that one stock in particular was overpriced. That stock was Apple and their CEO at the time was Steve Jobs, also one of the founders of the company. He has long been revered as one of the most brilliant entrepreneurs not only in technology, but in the history of business. The advice was long before iPhones, Apple watches, and iPads came into existence. I can only dream about what would have happened to my own personal fortune had I listened to my colleague back in the 1990s! The №1 takeaway from that learning experience is do your research and pull the trigger when you see a company has good leadership and a strong pipeline for growth. Look for opportunities instead of obstacles. My good friend did very well not only because of his research but because he used it as part of his risk mitigation strategy in making sound financial decisions.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I recently started a financial education and empowerment company: The Eric D. Coleman Financial Group
Our mission is teach people how to grow and build sustainable and generational wealth with a focus on impacting black and brown communities. We have 23 clients since our launch in June 2020. We have helped multiple clients move from paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyles, start investing in the stock market, become real estate investors and begin businesses all in the midst of a global pandemic. It’s really astounding when you think about all that has happened in 2020.
Ok. Thanks for all that. Let’s now jump to the main core of our interview. According to this report in Fortune, nearly two-thirds of Americans can’t pass a basic test of financial literacy. In your opinion or experience what is the cause of these unfortunate numbers?
For the majority of us, finances are not routinely discussed in our homes, nor are they taught in our classrooms on any grade level. As a result, we grow up ignorant of the impact of debt and without knowing how to successfully manage money. It is imperative to learn not only to live now but to save and invest for the future. This lack of knowledge then perpetuates itself and thus we end up with the aforementioned metrics. In addition, finances are such a personal topic for people. I’ve found people fall into three categories. Some are embarrassed about the prior financial decisions they’ve made; some think they know more than they actually do, and others believe that their financial situation is so dire you can’t fix it.
If you had the power to make a change, what 3 things would you recommend to improve these numbers?
Personal finance must be taught as part of our primary education system: saving, investing, and the impact of debt, including student loans. Every person should be exposed to a basics of investing course covering subjects such as the stock market, real estate, retirement planning, etc. It is essential for all our young people to learn the basic elements of starting a business and launching a new product/service.
Ok, thank you! Now to the main question of our interview: You are a “finance insider”. If you had to advise your adult child about 5 non intuitive essentials for smart investing what would you say? Can you please give a story or an example for each.
1) Do your research across multiple resources. A close and thoughtful analysis of information is helpful to determine accuracy of information and establish knowledge.
2) Follow trends but don’t get enamored. When the Internet first got started there were a lot of companies with high valuations but no profits. There were no fundamentals and so there was a significant financial loss by a majority of the people who followed that trend.
3) Always have an entry and exit strategy Good discipline helps you to avoid emotions and keeps you on track with your initial objectives. I stayed too long on some investments and got out too early on others all because I had no objectives.
4) Research eliminates fear. My friend did his research as part of his risk mitigation and then he pulled the trigger on purchasing his investment. Knowledge became power and thus allowed him to build wealth through investing. It was managing risk and allaying fear.
5) Make stock market investing a part of your strategy, not your sole strategy. There are multiple investments that one should consider real estate, business, etc. Even with stocks, you should have a specific purpose like securing dividends and understand the long-term effects of price appreciation.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
There are two individuals who stand out. Cliff Rotz was a former colleague at Dow Chemical who got me interested in investing in stocks. Tim King was an executive at Dow Chemical, my corporate mentor and a friend of mine. He helped me to understand that stock options and awards were more optimal ways of achieving financial growth in corporate America than simply earning a higher salary.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Relationships are important all the time and all the time relationships are important.” In my recently published book “Not by Accident: The Blessed Journey of Eric Coleman,” I highlight multiple relationships and the impact they had at particular points of my life journey. Those particular relationships served as the catalysts that played integral roles in everything I’ve achieved throughout my career.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the greatest amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :)
To help 250,000 black and brown people move into the top 10 percent of wealth holders over the next decade. Additionally, through Pembroke Productions, a publishing and media company I co-own with Angela Tuck, Charles Jones and Curtis Bunn, we hope to help ordinary people tell their stories of inspiration that will help to uplift and educate others. My personal story is one of several you’ll find at http://pembroke-productions.com/