caitie leibman

Collaboration: It’s a Team Effort!

black and white photo shows six hands bumping fists in a circle

Clients, looking back over these decades together, the word “collaboration” is what comes to mind for me. I have worked with some of your households for years, and I am most proud of what you and we have created together. Successful investing requires effective attitudes and intentional actions with money. You, the best clients in the world, have been stellar partners in this regard. It has truly been a team effort.

But I’m realizing that “collaboration” will have even more meaning for our work in the years and decades ahead. The success we’ve enjoyed together has resulted in an enterprise that is now beyond my ability to run by myself (and not that I would want to—to my estimation, the gang and I seem to be having a pretty good time together!).

Greg Leibman became an integral part of the effort a long time ago; Caitie Leibman and Billy Garver bring us perspectives and skills we formerly lacked and now rely on.

Two of our core activities are investment research and portfolio management. With the increasing wealth you’ve brought to us, these activities are more important than ever. Our capacity to do them depends on the team we’ve assembled. It’s a collaboration that’s become vital to our daily work.

Even as we conduct our work as a team, however, I remain the regulatory head: as an Investment Advisor Representative of LPL Financial, I am the business structure. The others, on paper, are technically assistants working under my direction.

This regulatory structure is a vestige of the days when this was a one-person operation, and it no longer aligns with what we’re trying to do here. So, for the rest of the year, we plan to work toward restructuring our firm as a Registered Investment Advisor: this arrangement should more clearly reflect how we can best serve you in the years and decades ahead.

Friends, you know about my intention to work to age 92, and that is still the case. But I also believe that part of my responsibility to you is to help shape an enterprise that can outlast me. The mortality rate remains 100%, so sustainability is the watchword here.

A team format—four officers, working collaboratively—gives this entity some of the durability it deserves. Fortunately, LPL Financial has developed plans and processes for this exact scenario, which is not unique to us. I’ve not lost my sense of gratitude for what LPL Financial has meant to my family and me; your funds will continue to be custodied with them. Account numbers and history and online access and statements and all that will remain essentially unchanged.

There will be just a bit of paperwork to transition each account. Details will follow as we learn more.

It will take the balance of this year for us to continue this work and implement the new structure. Clients, we will be in touch with more detail about this journey as it unfolds—and we are excited to get things more aligned with the big picture.

Please email us or call with questions or comments. Thank you all again, for everything.


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Longing to Be Elsewhen

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Clients, you know I can be a pretty enthusiastic fellow. But I don’t deny that sometimes life can be a grind. Things break and we have to fix them, we sniffle and sneeze with allergies, and there are always bills to pay.

Sometimes we might fantasize that we’re somewhere else, to escape for even just a moment.

It can happen in financial planning, too, but in a different way. Instead of longing to be somewhere else, some people daydream about getting to somewhen else. We can mistake our goals for finish lines: “Once I’m there, things will be okay. Once I get it, I’ll be fine.”

But any worthwhile goal is not just about the finish line. It’s all of it: the preparation, the training, the progress, the setbacks, the community of support, and everything in between. It’s the journey and the destination. All of it.

As we aim our plans and planning toward our goals, it’s good visualize multiple steps along the way—not just the end. What will get me where I want to go? What milestones will mark my progress? What pain can I expect along the way?

In mindfulness meditation, practitioners make a distinction between pain and suffering. Pain is what happens here, a direct result of something painful. A strained muscle sends signals to our brain that tell us we’re experiencing discomfort.

Suffering, however, is the next layer beyond the pain. You can think of it as our feelings about our feelings, like despairing about the fact that now we’re injured and our progress is stymied. That feeling is not the same as the pain that radiates from the muscle: it’s radiating from our minds. It’s a story about the pain.

Pain may be a given for us mortals in our fragile human bodies. But what if suffering were optional? Instead of wishing away each temporary discomfort, we might hang with it—here, in the present.

We can’t selectively escape. When we wish to be elsewhen, we’re not only fleeing the bad: we forego any of the good that might also be here in the present.

Good thing we’re here to keep each other company, huh? Clients, what can we be doing for you? Call or write, anytime.


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Letting Go of When

Any worthwhile goal is not just about the finish line. And good thing: we’re investing for the long term, and a lot can happen between now and the milestones we seek!


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Lessons from the Open Road: Just Change the Tire

photo shows a car with a flat tire on the side of the road

As spring fades and summer draws near, some of us are gearing up for road trips. (Although we know gas prices might affect our plans!) We’re thinking lately about life on the open road—and what lessons it might offer investors. 

Imagine you’re going along a winding road, and the car gets a flat tire. There are some choices available here. Some might hop out and swap the flat for the spare. Some might get a hold of a car service or a trusted friend in the area and have them change the tire. These approaches at least get you back on the road. Reasonable enough, right? 

But there are other choices available. We could, for instance, slash the other three tires. We could dump a can of gasoline on the whole darn thing and light it up! We could declare it a lost cause and walk away. We could take the flat as the confirmation we were looking for that this journey was a mistake after all.  

We can abandon the endeavor. 

It sounds outrageous, given the facts of the matter. The trip was your plan: you got in the car, loaded the supplies, and set out. Sure, this moment could be a fabulous excuse to turn back, but if that’s the case, it seems to be more about the driver’s relationship to the journey—and not their relationship to the setback. 

It’s not black and white, of course. There are approaches that we might employ along the way that we choose before we make the bigger, more crucial decisions. We might kick the flat tire. We might shake our fists at the sky. We might call someone to say that we are frustrated or scared or sad. Yes, you bet! Sometimes we need to vent stress out of our bodies before we make decisions. 

But how many endeavors do we deny a fighting chance when we refuse to just change the tire and get back on the road? 

You can go the whole journey this way. It will get you where you’re going. 

Clients, maybe you can already hear the lessons for managing a portfolio and working with downs as well as the ups. We let our resources carry us, for the long haul. 

Want to talk more about this—or anything else? Call or write, anytime. 


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Lessons from the Open Road: Just Change the Tire 228Main.com Presents: The Best of Leibman Financial Services

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Depth Is a Choice

photo shows the top of a silver ladder coming out of a blue swimming pool

Some people find money talk awkward, to say the least. To others, it can seem tacky or even rude.

We’re in the business of money talk, though, and we know that there’s no planning for the future without it. What’s more—it can be a real pleasure! What could be more empowering than connecting numbers on paper to one’s real life? Getting a story in motion for a fellow human through a financial planning journey?!

Yep, I’ve been told I’m a little excitable.

But I do wonder how much of folks’ baggage about money talk comes from an unexamined relationship with money (or maybe years of being told what’s “proper” and what’s not?).

Clients, we’re not going to make you check any baggage at our door, but we want you to hear this: we recognize that our work gets really personal, really quickly. We know that our financial pasts and our future goals are intimate stories.

Can you imagine having a planning conversation that wasn’t personal, though? “I currently have a number of resources in several forms, and at a date in the future, I would like to be able to spend a certain amount of money for, um, reasons.”

In her book The Art of Gathering, Priya Parker talks about a facilitator she interviewed who compared coming together to entering a swimming pool. “There is a deep end and a shallow end,” the facilitator told her. “You can choose whatever end you want.”

To borrow this idea, we would suggest that financial planning is “an invitation to intimacy, but depth is a complete choice.”

We believe goals are intimate and individual by nature. We’ve talked before about how your neighbor’s retirement plan won’t be yours, your friend’s recent housing decision isn’t a blueprint for yours… You catch our drift?

All this is to say—we are here for the personal, the more pragmatic, and everything in between. We know the business we’re in, and it’s all about… you.

Clients, write or call when it’s time to update the specifics of your plans and planning.


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What’s the Magic Word?

graphic shows a bright blue exclamation point with arrows pointing at it on a brick wall

An acquaintance of ours is a real charmer with her friends’ children. At her house, when adults ask children for “the magic word,” they don’t answer, “Please!” 

Instead, she teaches them to answer, “Now!” And everyone dissolves into laughter. 

“Now!” from a spunky child doesn’t carry as much weight as, say, an angry manager barking orders to an employee or a firefighter at an emergency yelling instructions. 

But “Now!” gets thrown around fairly often. Our mail, our pop-up ads, and even our dentists insist they need our attention immediately. We simply must respond to this limited offer, this overdue action, this short supply. 

Manufacturing urgency where there is none is a tactic. It compels us to turn our attention to whoever shouts “Now!” the loudest. And it can be startling. 

Fear as a mode of motivation may “work” in the short term—it can really get people moving, right away—but a person can’t sustain the fear state. Fear triggers the part of our brain that wants to react quickly and prioritize survival. Maybe you’ve heard about those reactions: fight, flight, or freeze. 

But fear is not a long-term mode of persuasion. Shaping others’ behavior has to happen with their consent and participation, over time. Habit changes, for instance, can’t be ruled by fear alone: there must be something providing positive reinforcement. 

Hope, ease, intrinsic motivation—something of personal meaning must be present in any financial goal or financial habit. Otherwise, why would you do it? 

Clients, people will shout “Now!” for all sorts of market reasons. We know to be wary. The shouting can be a sign of a stampede, sell-off, or unwarranted turmoil. 

But don’t take our advice without investigating for yourself—even if we say, “Please!” 

Questions for us? You won’t get scare tactics from us. Call the shop or write. 


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Time Machines and Time Capsules

Both could serve their purpose, but which sounds more useful, more versatile: a time capsule or a time machine? Well, the two might have something to teach us about our investment vehicles. More on the blog.


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Solid Ground and Serious Conflict

You’ve heard us talk before about not getting caught up in panic. It goes to one of our core principles, the idea of avoiding stampedes.

It gets a little complicated when we’re talking about world events that are so immediate. Conflict can be deadly and do serious damage, and the effects reach us all—whether we realize it or not.

We’re in a moment where the business headlines and market volatility are more stark than usual. It can feel disturbing, like things are less certain than ever.

But those of us just beyond the emergencies have an opportunity to reflect. What an important time it is to make sure that our goals, our values, and our resources are aligned. Are we focusing our efforts within our sphere of control? Are we investing in those causes we believe will be of service in this world?

Perhaps it’s how we keep panic from our hearts: find stability in being the most you that you can be. The dust will never settle if we insist on all the pacing, jumping up and down, or spinning in circles.

Invest wisely, spend well. It goes for our money and our attention. The leap to panic is a shorter—but way more costly—trip.

When you need to talk through anything troubling, please reach out.


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When the Dust Settles

Disturbing news can make us feel overwhelmed. When it seems like a fine time to panic, we’ve got an opportunity. How to take a moment—and make room for only what matters most.


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