The past few weeks have a lot of people in the financial world making comparisons to the 2008-2009 financial crisis.
This is understandable, as markets have fallen and day-to-day swings are reminiscent of the large one-way – and then the other-way – percentage point moves in 2008 and 2009.
I remember those days well, as I was a Managing Director at Lehman Brothers. I wrote about my experiences at the 10-year anniversary of the fall of Lehman in a piece called The Good Story.
This week has vividly brought back feelings from the week that Lehman went bankrupt, but not in a way some might expect.
It has reminded me of the good and created more good stories.
The day that Lehman fell, I was at my desk when my phone rang at about 6 a.m. It was one of my largest clients.
“I thought you might be at the office. How are you?”
I started talking about Lehman and the markets, but he interrupted me and said:
“You didn’t hear me. I asked, how are you?”
“Well, to be honest, not so great, but I’m hanging in.”
The full story about what happened next still makes me emotional. The short version is that he was calling just to see how I was faring as a fellow human being.
We had a long talk, with only a brief reference to the markets or his family’s investments.
He was concerned about me, my family and others that I worked with, not his investment portfolio.
The same Good Stories have been happening consistently this week.
Hour-long calls with less than five minutes on investing or the markets.
Humans concerned about other humans.
Personal well-being over what a moment in time in the market says about current financial well-being.
My guess is that you have experienced some version of this as well.
Random acts of kindness.
People caring about people.
What has stayed with me from 2008 and 2009 has been reaffirmed.
Firms and products don’t really matter that much in the end.
Openness and personal connections are what matter.
These are what create strong bonds, which allow for good conversations about life and what matters related to any investment plan.
Over the past few years, I’ve heard frequent commentary on how many businesses, such as investing, are going to become automated and that personal interactions won’t matter as much anymore.
The Good Story is that my stories consistently say this just ain’t so.