Why a Leadership Role May Not Guarantee Millionaire Status

April 13, 2023

In order to build your wealth, do you have to work your way up the corporate ladder? In this highlight, Brian and Bo discuss if a leadership role could guarantee financial success.


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So, we’ve talked about three of the ways that people get wealthy. Let’s talk about the fourth one, which is the second largest right now. This one, again, is a lot of the folks that we interact with, but still, when you look at it, it’s not a majority. 17% of the folks with whom we interact say this is the way that they were able to build their wealth. They were able to turn themselves into what we’re just calling a business executive. They were able to work their way up the corporate ladder. They started at a job and worked their way up until they were in a management role, in a leadership role, in an ownership role in some sort of capacity. And with that, the benefits of serving in those roles came along with it, namely a really big shovel. Yeah, I mean when you have such a big income, it gives you a lot of opportunities. You’ve heard guys I’ve talked about the three ingredients of success, which is that discipline where you live on less than you make creates the margin that leads to money that gets invested, and they, of course, have enough time that you’re successful to let it grow through compounding.

But here’s the interesting thing, a business executive, you know, it’s not too different than a virtuoso in the fact that they have big chunks of money coming their way. So maybe you didn’t have to be as disciplined to have this much income coming in, but it is one of those things where you still need to be very self-aware to make sure that you make the most out of this opportunity. Yeah, far too often we see on the negative side, executives have this big income, it allows them to cover not having discipline or it allows them to, even in some circumstances, cover not starting early, right, not taking advantage of time and putting it on their side.

So, if you’re someone who does fall into this camp or maybe it looks like this is going to be your trajectory, you’re going to work your way up the corporate ladder, we want to give you some tips and tricks to think about in order to maximize this, to make sure that you do fall into that. And the first one is to maximize those executive benefits. When leadership becomes unique things that may be available to you, like Employee Stock Purchase Plans, RSU, stock options, other types of incentives, those things are exciting for a reason and they can have a huge impact on your financial life if you recognize the value of them and the value they can have inside of your financial plan.

Yeah, you definitely need to be familiar with these benefits. You need to take advantage of these benefits, but I do want to caution you to make sure you understand the difference between human capital and then your investment capital. Because knowing how all the incentives and everything work, you do want to take advantage because capital gains, as well as the Employee Stock Purchase Plans with those huge discounts, this is no different a lot of you, this is no different than free money like a company match from your employer. So take advantage of it, but also have a path or a plan or a system that will turn that into capital outside of the company you work with. Because what you don’t want to end up with, we’ve seen it so much volatility going on right now and I think people are realizing, if you’re concentrated meaning all your human capital, your wages, your talents are coming are poured into this company and you’re an executive for them but then you never create a diversified capital and income outside of the company, if something ever happens to the company, you’re in trouble.

Your wealth, your success was tied too much to it. Let’s build some wealth and success outside of this. It’s something I mean, you’ve seen this firsthand, right? You’ve actually lived with people who experienced this. Right? Like you saw this at your previous firm where people failed to do this and it blew up on them completely. I thought it was very interesting because I’m now old enough. I asked people, ‘Hey, do you remember Lucent Technologies?’ and a lot of people, you know, if you started the investment game in the last 10 years, you’re like, ‘Who?’ And it always cracks me up because Lucent was one of those top 10 companies that everybody… it’s not too far from, like, what the world comes and these other boom-bust type stories, the Enrons and other things. But I knew too many executives, because it was an Atlanta-based company, that were so excited about what Lucent Technologies was creating that they never created that separation from their human capital to their investment capital. So that when it did go bad, and that happens from time to time, they were stuck, and that’s something that still is a regret for a lot of these people. And look, as a financial advisor, when you’re talking to executives, quite a few executives, you’ll try to tell people, ‘Hey, get your money diversified,’ but they’re like, ‘Yeah, but you don’t know what we got coming. We got some great stuff. We’re gonna make a fortune.’ The greed overcomes the fears they should have that they’re taking too much risk, and then you’re left with devastation at the end.

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