San Francisco Magazine named Debbie Juran '71, senior vice president and financial advisor at RBC Wealth Management, a 2014 Five Star Wealth Manager and one of the 10 most influential women in Silicon Valley.

Q: How have investing trends changed over the years?

A: The pace and basis of trading is nothing like it was when I started in 1977. Computerized trading and derivatives didn’t exist. Stocks traded on what were quaintly known as fundamentals — things like earnings, market share and competitive advantage. Today, chaos theory wins. Trading is computerized, and stocks more often than not are not purchased for their fundamentals. Online trading has “empowered” people with day jobs to become “experts” in a field that even the experts find difficult to manage.

Would I go back to the good old days? No. Change is inevitable and the beauty of this business, for me, lies in the constant challenge, the need to adapt and stay focused.

Q: What are some investing mistakes you see over and over?

A: Generally, I encourage people to continue to work at least until 65. Life expectancies are much longer than they were two generations ago. Retiring at 60 means a person is likely to have 30 or 40 years of life ahead to fill up with something meaningful. And Social Security is best taken at age 70 — a path that is rarely taken. People are determined to “get theirs,” but they leave a lot on the table in doing so.

Another mistake is not realizing the time value of money. Start young; have lots of money later. I tell people more often than I’d like, “If you think you need the money now (as in send me $10,000 from my IRA) while you’re working and in good health, where do you think you’ll be when you’re old?” My father used to say, “If I knew I was going to live this long, I would have taken better care of myself.” The same is true for investing for retirement.

Q: What advice would you give a 20-year-old investor?

A: Absolutely put money in your 401K or employer-sponsored plan as soon as you are eligible, and put in enough to get the company match. I don’t care how broke you think you are, it’s money that would go to taxes anyway so just do it! The time value of money is a wonderful thing.

Q: How about people in their 50s?

A: Invest like you’re going to live until you’re 90; your kids will thank you. Portfolios should be adjusted based on changing objectives or risk tolerance, not birthdates.


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