Tag Archives: Arkansas Impact Investing

God, Rest My Soul.

I don’t remember my first cup of coffee or much about attending the World Series in 1982. I do remember, Michael, the first child I saw in a wheelchair, receiving insulin every few hours from a long tube connected to a bag, hanging from a thin metal pole above his right shoulder. I was 8 when I met him.

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I can’t tell you about the first home run I ever hit or the first fish I caught on a fly. My first kiss didn’t change my life. But my first hug from a young boy with Down Syndrome did.

Political conversations ping pong around my social media and petty problematic issues too often are the focus of social interaction — I can’t help but think about the feeding tube needed to nourish the young girl in my daughters pre-school class.

I’m reading less of Hemingway, his self-character, Nick Adams, somewhat a muse to me, and reading more of Helen Keller, realizing, Anne Sullivan, her teacher is a real hero.

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I’ve seen people broken, mostly late in life, change what matters most to them, depressed about their lack of health, and even more, their relationships. Selfishness is to not live now, life to the fullest.

Creating a network of generosity, compassion and philanthropy, helping others improve their quality of life, and reach their full potential is what you’ll remember, when time seems short. Actions, without expectations, is more than enough to feel at peace about our time here on Earth.

cropped-ck-photo.jpgCharles Kochel lives in the Ozark Mountains of Arkansas. He serves a non-profit organization and owns an Impact Investing and Wealth Management firm, Yield Wealth Management. Yield Wealth is the first benefit corporation in Arkansas.

My goal is to leave a legacy of positive impact on others and the world.

WALL STREET’S FAST AND FURIOUS

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13. Year 1999: The Glass-Steagall Act, repealed.

My financial advice practice started in February 1999 at Salomon Smith Barney. Soon after, I was the in the midst of the biggest financial fiasco since the great depression…the U.S. economy paid the price a decade later. Over the years, legislators and regulators chipped away at Glass-Steagall leading to its repeal in 1999. The law prevents Insurance, Investment Banking, Brokerages, and Banking from commingling their services. Soon after, my beloved Salamon Smith Barney, became Citigroup – A collaboration of Salamon Smith Barney (investments and investment banking), Citibank (banking) and Travelers (insurance) become the 1st giant, too big to fail, under the leadership of a wise man, Sandy Weil. This was the beginning of the end…

Lesson learned – Bigger is seldom Better. Greed is bad.

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12. Year 2000: Bursting of the dot.com, or technology, bubble
The Internet was hip. Entrepreneurs’ potential in online business made millions and some made billions. However, online business was just an infant. Everyone was talking about a “new economy”, referring to Internet-driven economy. Most of the dot.com stocks listed on the NASDAQ. In January of 2000, the NASDAQ closed above 5000. The NASDAQ closed in October of 2002 at 1114. Many lost their entire fortune, more, on Main Street, lost everything they’d ever saved.

The Greed and Fear factor destroyed their life, speculating on what could not fail.Investors were getting rich off unprofitable stocks with high prices and higher price/earnings ratios – All things computer and Internet. For example, Cisco Systems, traded at more than 150 times earnings in March of 2000. In April of 2000, an inflation report caused the speculative bubble to burst and there were huge investment losses. The Munder Net Net fund returned a stunning 175% in 1999, followed by losses of 54% in 2000, 48% in 2001 and 45% in 2002.

Lesson learned – Fear is bad, Greed is worse.

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11. Year 2001: September 11 Terrorist Attacks
The 9/11 terrorist attacks was the most tragic in US history. It was only the third time in history that the New York Stock Exchange shut down for a period of time. In this case, it closed from September 11 – 17. Besides the tragic human loss, the economic loss cannot be estimated.

Some speculate, there was over $60 billion in insurance losses alone. Approximately 18,000 small businesses were either displaced or destroyed in Lower Manhattan, after the Twin Towers fell. There was a buildup in homeland security on all levels. 9/11 caused a catastrophic financial loss for the U.S. For me, September 11, 2001 was a game changer in my life, and my career.

Lesson Learned – I am a counselor, there is more to  life than money.

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10. Year 2001: Enron, the Emergence of Corporate Fraud, and Corporate Governance
Enron, one of the top energy companies at this time, and Arthur Andersen, one of the ‘Big Five’ public accounting firms, caught in a corporate fraud scandal that led to the bankruptcy of Enron and dissolution of Arthur Andersen.

Enron hid billions of dollars of debt from its shareholders in failed deals and projects. Further, it pressured its auditors, Arthur Andersen, to ignore the issues. Shareholders lost more than $60 billion.

This led to the passage of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act of 2002 which expanded penalties for accounting fraud and instructed accounting firms to remain independent of their clients. Other firms such as Tyco and WorldCom experienced similar scandals. These scandals shook the securities markets and investor confidence.

Lesson Learned, Do right – all the time.

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9. Year 2002: Stock Market Crash of 2002
After a brief slide post 9/11, the stock market rallied, but began to slide again in March 2002. The market reached lows not seen since 1997 and 1998 by July and September of 2002. The corporate fraud scandals, such as Enron, along with 9/11, were contributors to this loss of investor confidence in the stock market.

Lesson Learned – Corporations are not human – they have no heart, soul or mind, but can sue and be sued. They can also do a lot of wrong, and never really pay the price.

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8. Years 2001 and 2003 – present: War on Terror and Iraq War
After the 9/11 terrorist attacks, the War on Terror launched in Afghanistan and Iraq. The cost of these wars is ongoing. To date, the Congressional Research Service has approved about $950 billion for the operations overseas. This has been an incredible financial drain on our economy and it is impossible to know what the total cost will be.

Lesson Learned – Wars are never a good thing. I lost my best friend in the war. Game Changer – show up for the people you love most, all the time.
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7. Year 2005: BRIC (Brazil, Russia, India and China.)The Growth of China and India as World Financial Powers – Brazil and Russia turned the corner and show signs of economic boom. The rise of China and India as world financial powers is nothing short of amazing. Economists estimate that both nations can grow at the rate of 7-8% for decades to come. China, alone, has grown at about 9.6% for the past two decades. Together, the two countries account for one-third of the world’s population.

Countries like the United States initially started outsourcing work to China and India because of cheap labor. This is no longer the case. They kept their work in the two countries because they found talent. Talent for innovation in high-tech fields. A million scientists and engineers are trained in India and China each year compared to a lower number in the U.S. The balance of power in technologies is likely to move West to East.

Lesson Learned – don’t bias and diversify, all the time. BRIC Brazil, Russia, India, China are the real – and no one saw it coming.

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6. Year 2005: Hurricanes Katrina and Rita
On August 25, 2005, Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast of the U.S. as a strong Category 3 or low Category 4 storm. It quickly became the biggest natural disaster in U.S. history, almost destroying the great city, New Orléans.

Hurricane Rita quickly followed Katrina only to make matters worse. Between the two, more than $200 billion in damage. 400,000 jobs were lost and 275,000 homes destroyed. Many of the jobs and homes were never recovered. Hundreds of thousands of people displaced and over 1,000 killed and more are missing. The effect on oil and gasoline prices was long-lasting.

Lesson Learned – Mother Nature is much more power than I, prepare for the future. After the storm, any storm, assess the damage, prioritize what matters most, organize your priorities and simplify life.

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5. Years 2007 and 2008: Sub-prime Housing Crisis and the Housing Bubble
In the early part of the 21st century, the U.S. housing market was booming. Housing values were high. Just about anyone who wanted to buy a home could buy a home. A phenomenon called sub-prime lending arose. Individuals and families, who, in the past, could not have qualified for a mortgage were able to qualify for adjustable-rate mortgages with low or no down payments and low first interest rates. Facts are now available, proving many corporate leaders knew families did not qualify, and forced the underwriters to push it through the safety net…Corporations and People, making profit at others cost, at our economic cost.

Banks made mortgage loans to these people for houses with inflated values. As the interest rates rose and their adjustable rate loans got more expensive, they couldn’t make their mortgage payments. Soon, large financial institutions were holding portfolios of loans that were worthless. The “credit crunch” ensued.

Lesson Learned – Do not trust corporate structure and Wall Street. I left the corporate finance world and decided to own a financial advice business built around what is right, what matters most to people and the theory of Invest and Do Good. Impact Investing becomes the core of everything I do.

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4. Year 2008: Bernard Madoff and the Biggest Ponzi Scheme in History
Bernard Madoff, who owned his own investment advisory firm, was a former chairman of the NASDAQ. In 2008, he admitted to running a huge Ponzi scheme where he paid his investors with proceeds from the investments of other clients. Finally, it all unraveled and he could not meet his obligations. In one of the largest investment fraud schemes in Wall Street history, he defrauded his investors of around $18 billion. He was later sentenced to 150 years in prison.

Lesson Learned – FINRA, the self-governing agency of Wall Street, does not work and the corporate scandals are wide-spread, regulation broken and investors and employees pay the price.

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3. Years 2007 – 2009: The Global Recession and the Collapse of Wall Street
In September of 2008, a seemingly perfect storm of factors came together to create the deepest economic downturn, all across the globe, since the Great Depression. The investment banks that had stood on Wall Street began to collapse due to the sub-prime mortgage crisis and serious corporate fraud.

During the last months of the Bush Administration, the federal government stepped in to bail out some of these institutions in order to keep the U.S. financial system afloat.

Lesson Learned – Take control of your own actions. This is my time. I became a mentor and not a follower. I own what I do and who I am.

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2. 2010 – 2013: Traveling the world changes everything.

Trying to learn and control dharma, I felt no better time to see the world. My wife, 3 month old daughter and I put on our backpacks, and hit the road, air and water. Starting in 3rd world Mexico and Belize, there could have been no better start to our journey. Reality of poverty quickly hit home. I changed our schedule and worked with locals to build and give away wheelchairs to poor handicap. The line to get a wheelchair was as far as the eye could see. I helped again the next day, putting everything else aside. We met an 8-year-old girl caring for 7 other children under the age of 5, far from home — she was a breath of fresh air, curious about apples … 1st world problems seemingly fading. The other continents were equally eye-opening. Everyday struggles whilst, at home, my own were complaining about matters of absolute no importance.

I soon joined a mindful wealth management company in Santa Monica. I’d never seen nor heard anything like it. My goal was to study, take away everything that was right and open my firm in 2014. After nearly 2 years later … Yield Wealth was born.

Lesson Learned: We are all a product of our own environment. If you want change, change your environment, all of it. There are people out there making a difference, and now, I am one of them.

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1. 2014: Yield Wealth Management, Invest and Do Good.

Yield Wealth Management is born. I chose to focus on rural and agri-America, because that is what I know best. Moving to our farm, in rural Southeast Arkansas. We have partnered with the élite “mindful” wealth management and impact investment companies in the world. Our goal is to help foundations and families best align their financial resources to their mission, or what matters most to them.

Lesson Learned: The economies of the world are greatly affected by the information absorbed. Fact is, tragedy happens, markets react and people are emotional.

My job, as a counselor, is to help people, the decision makers, navigate the landscape of investment and financial planning, without succumbing to the pressures of the media, markets and social culture. Markets work, they always have and I believe they always will. Understanding the academia of markets, who you are, what you want and what you need, you’ll be able to accomplish dreams you never thought possible. Invest and Do Good.

cropped-ck-photo.jpgCharles Kochel founded Yield Wealth Management to help foundations and families align their financial resources to their mission and what matters most to them. Yield Wealth is one of the first benefit corporations in Arkansas, leveraging business as a force for good – helping solve social and environmental problems.

Our blog is for informational purposes only, do not use this as a guide or investment advice. Email info@yieldwealth.com to set a conversation to visit about how you will benefit from our resources.