Barry McNamara  |   Published April 21, 2016

‘Elegantly simple’ advice

Goldsborough’s financial message to seniors is just one click away
  • Chairman Bill Goldsborough ’65 shares with students his wisdom from his years of investment experience.
Monmouth College students were told Wednesday night to keep personal finance and investing “elegantly simple.”

That was the advice Monmouth College Board of Trustees Chair Bill Goldsborough ’65 gave to about three dozen students who attended his talk, “Adulting 101: Cha Ching.”

In sharing his main point, Goldsborough quoted another authority with Monmouth College ties – professor of political economy and commerce Mike Connell.

“Professor Connell would say ‘This is elegantly simple,’” said Goldsborough of a 14-word mantra that the seniors would be wise to repeat early and often during their post-college journey.


That mantra: “Spend less than you earn and invest the difference in something that goes up.”

Goldsborough acknowledged following his talk that advice is easier said than done, in part because consumers “are bombarded every day with hundreds of ads.” His talk, however, assumed students would conquer the first five words – he was interested in making sure they knew how to profit from the final eight words.

After showing students that investing in cash provides very little growth, Goldsborough shared convincing data that “stocks always outperform bonds” over the long run.

“The conclusion is pretty simple,” he said. “Stocks are the best place to be.”

But Goldsborough said that knowing to invest in stocks and knowing how to invest in stocks properly are two different things. So Goldsborough spent the rest of his talk sharing some of the finer points of investing, including his caution to beware of “the three E’s” of bad investing – ego, expenses and emotion.

Goldsborough shared just how difficult it is to own stocks during a bear market because individual investors often sell at precisely the wrong moment – when a stock’s value has fallen far below the purchase price, making the situation seem hopeless.

“As the market goes down, we start getting scared,” he said. “Eventually, we say ‘Uncle.’ We give up, and we sell. It’s called capitulation. It’s easy to say, ‘Buy low and sell high,’ but it’s hard to do. It’s hard for all of us.”

Goldsborough said he’s been a victim of emotion. He shared with students how during the bear market of 1973-74 he was forced to take a loss on a $1,500 investment because he cried “Uncle.”

But Goldsborough learned from his years in the investment business, which included eight years as an investment officer at Harris Bank and 24 years at Lincoln Capital Management, where he was vice president. When stocks fell by as much as 50 percent in 2008-09, Goldsborough said he stood firm. The market rebounded and then some, which he says history shows happens time and again.

“Every time stocks have gone down, they’ve risen to higher levels,” he said.
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