Radio host and entrepreneur Annette Raynor talks with Opportunist’s Managing Editor Leslie Stone about how she became an on-air personality, why she wants to bring free market principles back to the financial sector on a global scale and how the American Dream is shifting.
Annette Raynor has a diverse background, with 20 years in Information Technology and 10 years in finance. After more than a decade in emerging technologies, she created her own IT consulting firm and became one of the largest resellers for Xerox in the country. She eventually switched to finance and, at age 41, secured her Series 65 Financial Advisor license and established her own advisory firm. “I am a Registered Investment Advisor Representative and an instructor who for the last six years has taught individuals how to manage their own money versus doing it for them,” she says.
Eighteen months ago, Raynor sold her company to cofound Wealth Generators, which she describes as the culmination of both her successes and her failures. “The primary goal of Wealth Generators is to bring free market principles back to the financial sector on a global scale. I believe it will create a financial revolution that has the ability to change the financial future of individuals, our country and potentially the world markets. Who ever said my dreams weren’t grand enough? In its purest form Wealth Generators seeks to bring the best talent and experience in the financial sector directly to the individual so they can participate and benefit directly in our financial markets.”
I truly believe the answer to our recent global financial crisis lies with the individual. If each of us learns and refuses to accept the old practices we can be a force in the worldwide markets. Just as great wealth was created after The Great Depression of 1929, I believe we are in the exact same position now. Those of us who take control will forge our own opportunities. This is my passion; this is my goal.”
Opportunist: How did you get into radio?
Annette Raynor: The answer is less exciting than you would imagine. [Laughs] Wealth Generators and the senior management team were provided the opportunity to sponsor a one-hour radio show and obviously felt it was a great way to get our product and empowerment message out there. Since I was the member of the team who was used to delivering education courses online—and very comfortable speaking my opinion—I was elected. I had four weeks to figure out how to do a radio show, create a storyline, secure guests, establish pre- and post-marketing. It was extremely overwhelming.
Opportunist: You obviously rose to the challenge.
Annette Raynor: I also thought it’s a little crazy and dangerous to give me airtime for one hour where I can talk about whatever I want! [Laughs] After getting through the first show jitters, I quickly discovered that I absolutely loved it. I have a unique platform in today’s media to speak candidly with others about current issues we face as a country, as investors and as individuals. I get to talk about things that really get under my skin, provide practical advice and get people thinking about what they can do for themselves. Since Wealth Generators sponsors the show, I am free from worries of losing sponsorship and have no obligation to take a ‘specific’ point of view. This is truly empowering and provides our listeners a breath of fresh air. We take one topic and we discuss it, openly and honestly from different viewpoints.
Opportunist: What is the basic premise of the show?
Annette Raynor: The Financial U was originally created with a target towards our youth. However, it became apparent through the years that financial education is not a need based on an age or demographics. The majority of us—even financial professionals—need ongoing financial education. We need a constant stream of information to help us make the right decisions in rapidly changing conditions. Even if finance is not your passion, everyone from the artist to the attorney needs to recognize that money is the currency by which we operate. Therefore, to reach our goals, make our dreams come to life, we must learn how to generate and manage money to get us there. Even if you want to dedicate your life to missionary work or charity, if you can first learn how to earn and then put that money to work you will be more effective, you will be able to do more and make a larger impact on the world in which we live.
Opportunist: You have said that you ‘truly believe the answer to our recent global financial crisis lies with the individual.’
Annette Raynor: As banking and brokerage came together, there was a massive consolidation of money into the hands of these institutions. So, even those individuals who just save are actually providing capital to the banks and brokerage firms for them to use for investing. As decisions were made to make riskier investments in the search for higher profits, we were able to see just the tip of an iceberg that, believe it or not, is even larger now than it was during the crisis. As a result of losing Lehman and Bear Stearns, along with the ensuing mergers and acquisitions, the remaining institutions are even larger. Couple that with extraordinary compliance reform and increased regulation, which priced out many of the smaller financial institutions. It was easier for the smaller institutions to close their doors than continue to operate. The compliance burden was too great both from an administrative and financial perspective.
This culminated in even greater consolidation. However, if individuals come to the market as individuals and begin to invest for themselves, then their holdings cannot be manipulated. The more individuals participate on a global scale, the more stable the market becomes. It is necessary for this shift of capital to take place especially because the root of the problem is even worse now than it was before.
Opportunist: What are the most important steps average individuals should take right now to secure their financial future?
Annette Raynor: First, assess what you have. It amazes me how little people know about their money, where it is, how it is managed, what fees they are being charged, etc. Second, learn how to invest for yourself. Start small. Take 10 percent of your investment capital and put it in a brokerage account that you open for yourself. Learn how to buy what you believe in. Maybe you would put some of that into a crowdfunding opportunity, maybe you would buy only shares of dividend paying companies or maybe you learn how to trade options. I urge everyone to look at Wealth Generators since we really are dedicated to bringing the best traders and their knowledge direct to the individual. Once you know, once you make your first investment, you will never be the same. It’s pretty incredible how dramatically things will change. You won’t be willing to go back to the old model of blindly handing over your money to strangers.
Opportunist: Who are some of the most awe-inspiring people you have interviewed?
Annette Raynor: What is inspiring to me—whether my guests are famous or unknown—is their passion and spirit and unwavering commitment. You can see it in each of them. It’s not any one person; it’s what they all have in common. That is what feeds and excites me: positive, powerful messaging from passionate people. It’s hard not to be happy when the show is over.
Jordan Kimmel, Chief Investment Officer of Investview Inc., Todd Schoenberger of LandColt Capital, my daughter’s teacher Mrs. Lana Inacio—an ex-hedge fund manager who teaches high school juniors and seniors about the markets, the importance of money and how they can put it to work for them—even an Internet specialist, Billy Moore of AFMAP who we had on last week, saw the changes coming to the industry and switched gears mid-life to become an expert in Internet marketing. Former NFL linebacker Glenn Cadrez is passionate about helping former athletes manage their money and break the cycle of bankruptcy and losing their fortunes. All of these people share the same passion of helping individuals to experience a better life. I have started to realize that there are many of us out there, from different backgrounds, who want to help everyone kind of break the cycle. The top 1 percent of the population shouldn’t control half the world’s wealth—certainly not in this country.
There are lots of heroes out there who, unfortunately, don’t make the headlines. Mrs. Inacio couldn’t understand why I wanted her on the show. I told her, ‘You’re my hero!’ My daughter was coming home from school talking about high frequency trading and seeing the risks of it and I couldn’t imagine this was my daughter. [Laughs] So I asked her, ‘Who taught you this? Who is this person? I need to meet her!’
Opportunist: What do you enjoy most about your work?
Annette Raynor: Seeing people realize the truth—even if it’s just one discussion, one moment in time where I get someone to think a little differently or achieve something better—it’s the most exciting thing. I’ve been fortunate to have educated an 80-year old woman in Seattle on how to trade options and to explain to 18-year-olds that every time they spend all the money they make and don’t put any to work they’re always going to be in that position. When they hear and see it in plain English and they actually get it, they are changed forever.
My husband, Kevin, and my three children: Kevin Jr., Ariana and Juliana are my true love and my children really are my greatest contribution to this world. While each complains I work far too much, I hope they always know it is for the greater good and a life dedicated to sharing my experience and life lessons for the benefit of others.
Opportunist: Are you a proponent of crowdfunding, which seems to be a trend for companies and individuals who need to raise capital?
Annette Raynor: I think it is wonderful—if they let it take place. We need to get money into the hands of the right people to fund the little guy and enable all kinds of investors to participate in the potential success of innovation. Banks are not doing it; they are not releasing their capital. The final rules for crowdfunding are still not very clear, but this will help us get back to the entrepreneurial roots this country was built on. It levels the playing field. If 500 of us think this ‘widget’ is the greatest invention, we can pool our funds together and bring this ‘widget’ to market. If we were right, innovation can prosper once again. We must approach it with realistic expectations. Many innovations fail but I, as a common individual, would like the opportunity to invest in these visions. It’s never happened in our history before, unless you were at the right place at the right time or unless you were privileged and an opportunity was brought to you.
Opportunist: Some say we are becoming a land of part-time workers. Do you agree?
Annette Raynor: We are a land of part-time workers and we will see this shift continue—and I don’t think it’s a bad thing. It is a very efficient model for businesses to hire what they need as they need it as opposed to long-term. Along with that, each of us gets to monetize our skills. For example, instead of working for one company I can put my passion to work for multiple companies. We live in a world where the opportunity to do that is everywhere. I can put my skills on the Internet or go to the Internet and find every company looking for my skills. They want to pay ‘x’ for ‘y’ and if I can deliver ‘y’ I am going to get paid. I don’t need to be physically located close to them; I can just put my skills to work. What is the challenge then? Why are people not embracing this? I think it is a simple answer: they haven’t recognized that the old way is gone and they have not yet visualized what the future looks like.
Opportunist: Do you believe the American Dream is still within reach?
Annette Raynor: Absolutely. I just believe the path to get there is unlike anything we have ever seen. That’s why people don’t believe it—they are still looking to the past to see how others have become wealthy. It’s different now and we have to do it differently. Opportunity and tools and resources are available to all of us equally. The only thing that is not equal is income and capital (money). That’s why crowdfunding is so important, so we can put some of our income to work for us. On the job front, many have given up. Others probably have discovered a different way and realized they can do contract work—and for more than one company—whenever and wherever they want. They don’t have to work five years for a two-week vacation.
I believe this change sparks creativity. We can approach challenges differently. Once we are away from our problems for a period of time they seem much more manageable. Things will change organically as people start to realize they don’t need an employer to earn. The network marketing model we are delivering at Wealth Generators is the best model out there. We know our clients come from other clients. If somebody comes to my education class and they like it they’re going to bring their friends next time. When you love a product you naturally want to tell your friends, and you should get paid for telling your friends. More companies are embracing this model and it will enable others to get paid for activities they already do for nothing.
Opportunist: Are you optimistic about the U.S. economic outlook?
Annette Raynor: The economy is starting to look up but it’s not stable. The government is starting to pull back on the gas they’ve been putting in that car. They need to, but it must be replaced from all of us when we are ready to take the reins and come back to the marketplace. The problem is that lots of us haven’t recovered personally. Banks and brokers have become stronger but individuals have not. We cannot trust a small population of financial institutions to do the right thing by any stretch of the imagination.
Opportunist: How do we fix it?
Annette Raynor: French economist Thomas Piketty, in his book Capital in the Twenty-First Century, has suggestions for fixing the problem. I don’t agree with all of his suggestions, but much of what he uncovers is based on fact. When you consider minimum wage is what it was in the 1960s that is a problem. We don’t have growth and we wonder why the top 1 percent is getting wealthier. Nobody else is making any money. We have experienced half a century of no income growth. Returns are greatest for those who have invested, but only those with capital could invest. How do we fix it? More money needs to get into the hands of individuals—especially those who want to be innovative. Then we will start to see that growth and see individuals come back to the market and see more stability. It’s not easy and it’s not an overnight process either.
Fifty-one percent of Americans have little to no confidence in the financial industry. It’s time for this to change and The Financial U is a step in the right direction, along with our sponsor Wealth Generators. We have come through a very difficult period and we are afraid. We must put our fear aside and remember our heritage. We can be and do anything we want—we simply have to take those steps. I am speaking from experience here. Living in the tri-state area [of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut] after the 2008 crisis, I have seen families torn apart, professionals lose their entire career and remain unable to recover both professionally and mentally. Shame, embarrassment and fear are devastating to the human psyche. This should not be taken personally. It was much larger than any one of us and truly was the perfect storm. We have come through some very difficult times, but we can learn from it and, even more importantly, recognize the opportunity and seize it.
Leslie Stone is an award-winning writer/editor with more than two decades of experience covering business, finance, real estate and lifestyle issues for newspapers, magazines and online publications. Originally from Virginia, she currently resides in Florida. Follow her on Twitter at @lescstone.
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The Financial U Radio Show - http://www.voiceamerica.com/show/2329/the-financial-u