On the joy of mathematics, featuring Mindy Fishel

Mindy FIshelWith focus, purpose and a complete commitment to the task, Mindy Fishel approaches the market like an ascetic warrior-monk of legend may have approached the battlefield. She seems allergic to the flash that often accompanies success in the business, instead reserving all her flourish for the work that has earned her clients’ continuing trust and loyalty.

Her practice is built on those strong relationships. Those relationships, in turn, are built on showing her work – the tedious, the grueling, the complex, the difficult, the counterintuitive – all of it. Her job is to sweat the details. She has no interest in making it seem effortless because it isn’t.

“I roll up my sleeves, I do the math, I pick through the details, and make a plan for my clients,” she said. She guards her focus, keeping a closed-door office policy when it’s time to grind. Her clients expect her complete attention. It’s simple: “Keep doing the math, keep doing the hard work and you’re going to get there.”

It’s a style that comes naturally to her. She likes the puzzle of portfolio construction and management and enjoys navigating the market’s challenges. She likes to talk about the fascinating calculations possible within spreadsheet software. She likes to solve for her clients’ difficult life situations with planning. She has designed her high-touch practice to suit those preferences.

When asked what she thinks sets her practice apart, she said she isn’t sure. She’s built a practice that plays to her strengths and has earned her the continuing loyalty of her clients through up markets and down.

“For me, it’s about embracing the hard work. It’s what success is built on.”

“I rarely pop out to see what others are doing,” she said. “I look after my clients. I’m lucky that I get a tremendous amount of referrals.”

In a lot of ways, Fishel comes across as a natural denizen of her town, San Francisco, that has been utterly transformed by mathematics enthusiasts like her. In other ways, she is utterly at odds with a culture that often sees newness and disruption as necessarily better. This has been trying at times in recent years as powerful trends, fads and memes have made “style wise, trend foolish” investment managers like her question their philosophies, if not their sanities.

In light of the 2022 market, however, one is reminded of Warren Buffet’s famous quote: “It’s only when the tide goes out that you discover who’s been swimming naked.”

There’s been some validation as a result, Fishel said.

When the market is difficult, “this is when you build relationships,” she said. “This is where you have tough conversations and you tell people, ‘We’ve planned for this.’ It’s about looking forward, learning from history, and not being afraid to change your mind when the facts change.”

It’s where wisdom makes a difference.

“You just have to stay out of the traps, stay out of the trends and do what you’re doing,” she said. “You have to strip the signal from the noise, so to speak – and there’s so much noise out there.”

With more than 20 years of service to her clients, Fishel’s enthusiasm for the work and their goals remains. As long as that is true, the success will continue to follow.

“For me, it’s about embracing the hard work. It’s what success is built on.”

This piece was featured in Aspire Magazine, a biannual publication from the Women Financial Advisors Network. View the latest.

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