The Rabbi, The Monk, The Money

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I know, the headline sounds like the beginning of a well-worn joke or a film title that’s trying too hard to be irreverent. But here’s the thing: this post is really about a Rabbi, a Monk, and Money, as odd as the title may seem. Then again, this is BuddhaMoney. And we’re known to sprinkle spirituality into the money mix, you know, for the sake of leading you toward a balanced, fulfilled life. Because, hey, this is who we are and what we do.

Digging deeper than the snappy title, this post is about whom you choose as a financial advisor, mortgage broker, or anyone else hired to care for money related aspects of life.

That said, it’s not that you need to choose folks of the cloth for financial guidance. And, anyway, it’s not like there’s a whole lot of spiritual gurus out there who double as profit seeking money experts. But there are some. Or a few, anyway. Um, well, let’s say four that I’ve come across. Still, regardless of scarce availability of sage-turned-crackerjack-financial-pro, we can learn from the ones who do exist.

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Does Money Matter? Oy! Do You Really Need To Ask Such a Question?

There’s this guy named David Frankel. Frankel works as a mortgage broker in Philadelphia. His previous gig included, among other responsibilities, officiating at weddings and bar mitzvahs as a Rabbi.

Like other quality mortgage brokers, Frankel knows the ins and outs of mortgage related issues. And he surely does his best to secure the lowest possible rate on terms most favorable to clients.

Okay, sooooo … what differentiates Frankel from competitors? Given that there are other quality brokers out there, what makes Frankel a guy you want to hire? Does his rabbinical knowledge and experience translate to a business edge?

Lets answer this by turning back the clock to the middle / late aughts. Remember 2007-2009, when the financial world imploded? And the building blocks for the economy busting meltdown were constructed with unsavory, immoral, dishonest (I’m being kind here) people and institutions intent on making a buck for them self any which way they could?

There was something missing from these kind of people, the kind who didn’t think twice about taking part in the Get-It-While-You-Can-Get-It-While-Its-Hot festival of selfishness and greed. What was missing? How about a crazy little thing called Integrity.

And this is Frankel’s edge. Integrity. In an industry where self worth is measured by net worth, this is where Frankel, and others (spiritually learned or not) with equal parts Integrity excel. These are the kind of people who stitch together the fabric of society. These are the kind of people, truthful people, who you want to hire for money matters.

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In the mortgage business, people like this do not try to provide you with the largest mortgage possible (so the lender may make more money) nor an elephant size Home Line of Credit (so you may be tempted to borrow more against the equity in your home thereby increasing your debt so, again, the lender may make more money). Instead, their purpose is to provide you with nothing more than a mortgage that suits your needs and fits your financial circumstances.

And before rushing through paperwork and sending a bucket of money your way, they patiently learn your needs through asking questions. And listening. And caring. And encouraging you to consider what a home means to you, what money means to you. And when all is said and done, the person with Integrity is just as satisfied with a fair transactional profit as they are with knowing that you, their client, is equally satisfied.

Frankel, and people like him, are the kind of people you want to deal with. Genuine people whose actions are guided by honesty, compassion and a sense of fair play. Guided by a crazy little thing called Integrity.


 Chewy Bit

For a riveting ride inside the minds that cratered Main Street and Wall Street, read The Big Short. It’s a movie too but the book offers way more detail and is equally fascinating.


Suffering Prevention Specialist

The basis of some religious teachings is something along the lines of … ‘suffering exists; we will teach you how to overcome suffering.’

Doug Lynam, former Benedictine Monk, current Financial Advisor, sees himself as a Suffering Prevention Specialist. (Gotta love the job description!) Like Frankel, Lynam truly cares about his clients, saying that his work “requires all of my mind, heart, and devotion”.

Specifically, he’s focused his efforts toward reducing suffering among schools and their employees. Seems that there have been too many schools farming out employee retirement plans to incompetent, or even negligent, money managers. The result being the blowing up of later in life dreams through depletion of pension assets.

Lynam’s response? Instead of smoke billowing out his ears or filing a frenzy of lawsuits, Lynam calmly steps up and takes action by devoting him self to helping schools build more effective retirement plans. Because it wouldn’t be enough to only sympathize with the plight of those who have suffered financial wrongdoing. The sympathy, the compassion, has to be combined with mindful action that helps people.

And together with other caring people working at LongView Asset Management (including a Hindu Nun and a Buddhist Chaplain), Lynam takes action not only through constructing and implementing sound financial plans. He also walks the extra mile for clients … because that’s who he is.

In this sense, Lynam helps people work through other issues loosely related to finances:

“Perhaps one of the cardinal sins that I see the most, though it’s not a popular one to talk about, is sloth.

Some people are afraid but also a little lazy, and they don’t really want to do the hard work of facing their mistakes or lack of organization and knowledge on these subjects and take responsibility.”

Here, Lynam recognizes the life challenges and difficulties people experience. And he does what he can to educate, guide, and help people alleviate their suffering.

Well, I wouldn’t be going out on a limb here in saying that Lynam is certainly not your typical financial advisor. But he is the kind of financial advisor from whom most everyone would benefit.

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Integrity Is Available For All

Like I said earlier, there aren’t a whole lot of spiritual gurus out there who double as money experts. But there are others plying their trade in the financial industry whose principled, stand up values inform their work and their approach to business relations. These are the kind of people you want to do business with; people who show by their words AND actions that they care about you and your family. People with Integrity.