What a Chinese-American Investment Manager Would Tell Her Parents

  • Mindy Yu grew up in Queens, New York, in a working-class family that lived paycheck to paycheck.
  • Today she is an asset manager who coaches people in growing their wealth.
  • If she could go back in time, Yu would give her parents three money pieces of advice.

As director of investments at Betterment, Mindy Yu helps hundreds of people invest wisely in the market and grow their wealth. But Yu herself comes from humble beginnings.

She grew up in Queens, New York, in a Chinese immigrant family that lived paycheck to paycheck. Yu’s father worked as a self-employed handyman, while her mother worked as a seamstress in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Her mother eventually had to quit her job because Yu and her two siblings needed more support when they started school.

“These certainly weren’t fixed-salary office jobs. I have a brother and an older sister, so we saw the difficulties my mom and dad had in taking care of our family,” Yu told Insider.

When it came time for Yu to enter college, she began exploring other industries, such as fashion merchandising, before pursuing a career in finance. She says, “When I began to understand the power of investing and how the financial industry can help people plan, save and think about their financial future, that was my lightbulb moment.”

She adds: “My experiences have really changed the way I think about advising clients, especially because you don’t want them to fall into the same trap of being scared and not investing correctly. That’s always something I think is important, learning from my mistakes and make sure our customers don’t do the same.”

When asked what financial advice she would give her parents if she could turn back time, Yu said she would tell them these three things.

1. Focus on retirement planning

Yu says, “They were so focused on us helping three kids get through college that they didn’t focus on planning for their own retirement. They can’t just depend on Social Security benefits.”

While her parents didn’t necessarily have access to traditional retirement accounts like a 401(k) or Roth IRA, Yu wishes she would talk to her parents about retirement planning earlier in life.

She adds: “It’s really not too late to start now and have those conversations with your parents. You can’t take out a loan later in the future to keep your living and health care costs up. They will be years after.” years continue to rise year, and that’s going to be a burden.”

2. Start an emergency fund

An emergency fund consists of three to six months of living expenses that are typically kept in a high-yield savings account that is easily accessible in an emergency.

Yu realizes that her parents have always wanted to save for an emergency fund, but chances are their family wasn’t there. She says: “It’s very hard to come to this country without speaking English. That’s hard when you’re trying to make a living. It’s like being dropped in the middle of nowhere and unable to communicate, which you should try to survive and make money.”

Yu remembers that her family used to drive an older car growing up, and that car sometimes broke down in the middle of the highway. If she could go back in time, Yu would explain to her parents the importance of having a special emergency fund for the times their car broke down on the highway.

3. Invest any extra money savings

Yu wished her parents had started investing in the stock market sooner.

She says, “When my parents were trying to save and they were trying to adjust here in the US, they didn’t have a lot of money and financial planning services are very expensive. No one would talk to you if you didn’t have a certain amount of money.” amount to work with.”

The language barrier also made it difficult for Yu’s parents to access basic personal finance skills such as investing and planning for retirement, which would have made a huge difference in their family’s lives.

Yu adds that older generations within Asian-American communities tend to be more conservative investors. She says, “I think the community is always focused on saving dollar by dollar, rather than focusing on what that dollar would look like if you invested in the market. There just isn’t enough literacy and motivation for the older ones. generation to do that.”

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