Since 1999, Merriman CIO and Portfolio Manager Dennis Tilley has been on a journey to help our clients make wise investments. While certainly an important job that he takes very seriously, Dennis believes making smart investment choices is only a means to an end of being able to live the life our clients want. Dennis knows maybe better than anyone else that Merriman’s mantra, “invest wisely, live fully,” is all a matter of balance.
When Dennis was growing up, he watched his father work hard and save so that he could reach his long-held goal of retiring early. When his father reached that goal, Dennis saw firsthand that an early retirement could be more a curse than a blessing. While his dad enjoyed retirement at first, over time he was left asking, “Now what?”
While working, it’s sometimes easy to get caught up in the parts of your job or career you don’t enjoy. No job is perfect, but if you’ve found the right job for you, it likely provides you with a sense of accomplishment and purpose. While retirement may feel like a hard-earned reward after years of dedication, it can also leave you feeling empty, now lacking that sense of accomplishment. Even though Dennis’s dad made smart financial choices, it didn’t guarantee his happiness later. Like many in this position, he decided to go back to work. He didn’t need to financially, but he did it because it helped him replace the good things he lost when he retired.
Having seen what happened with this dad, Dennis now places an emphasis on developing other areas of his life where he can feel that same sense of purpose and satisfaction that he does from his work. He has always loved his work, both in his first career as a rocket scientist and for the last 20 years at Merriman. This helped him realize the importance of finding passions both at work and outside of work to have a healthy balance.
To help strike this balance, Dennis took up rock climbing several years ago. Part of what he loves about climbing is that it is “half mental and half physical.” And being in the beginner-intermediate phase, he can easily improve without a lot of time and effort studying the craft. He enjoys the process of improving himself, and rock climbing gives him the ability to enjoy those improvements, both in the physical aspect of the sport, and in how he approaches his climbs mentally. Beyond the mental and physical improvements he makes, Dennis also loves that climbing is something he can do with his whole family. It’s that combination of mental and physical improvement while doing it with his family that helps him live fully.
After working hard in his career and in his personal life developing outside interests, Dennis was faced with the same decision his father faced about retirement. He too had carefully planned and saved, so the decision came down to how he felt he could feel fulfilled in this next stage of his life. After a lot of thinking, he realized his passion for finance would not go away if he retired. He wanted an outlet he could continue to pursue at higher levels, all while having a positive impact on our clients’ lives – something he had through his work at Merriman, and not something he was willing to give up. He decided to continue working while pursuing his hobbies.
Part of Dennis’s pursuit of balance between professional and personal fulfillment included a change in his feelings on setting and accomplishing goals. Previously, he was always looking to set and accomplish goals in all areas of his life. But now, Dennis says he’s let go of as much of that as he can. He says, “Living fully means letting go of lots of goals, and just enjoying the moment,” which he does now by continuing to oversee and improve Merriman’s investment approach and research. He’s always pushing himself and developing new and better ways to run our programs and challenging previously held beliefs and procedures. He documents much of this in his investment blog, Asset Class Trading, with the goal of eventually making the posts into a book so he can share his journey and findings with those who share his passion for financial research and performance.
To learn how Dennis and the rest of our team can help you Invest Wisely and Live Fully, feel free to contact us and follow us on social media.