Ivory Johnson is the founder of Delancey Wealth Management and a member of the CNBC Financial Advisors Council. In this interview, I asked him how issues of social justice interact with issues of economic justice.
Johnson told me it starts with a simple question: What creates wealth?
Johnson, a certified financial planner, discusses tax policies that favor wealthy people, skilled versus unskilled workers and the value of passing on skills.
Johnson is not just a savvy financial advisor, he’s also a great storyteller.
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Here’s my favorite: When Johnson got his first significant job, he wanted to buy a fancy car. His dad suggested he get a car with a shower in it, because if he was going to spend that much money on a vehicle, he might as well live in it. He advised him to buy an apartment, not a fancy car, because an automobile is a depreciating asset.
Now Johnson owns an apartment, he is going to give it to his son.
Johnson notes that the first thing many people who grow up poor want to do when they come into money is to prove they are not, in fact, poor anymore — so they buy expensive things. Bad idea.
As for the current buying frenzy by retail investors, Johnson says he understands the impulse. His 22-year-old son was buying beaten-up airlines during the recent chaos. Johnson discusses what his role as a financial advisor is to people who want to invest short-term and long-term.
What worries Johnson? High up on his list is the role the Federal Reserve is playing in propping up not just the economy, but even poorly performing companies.
Another story he shared was that he sees weak companies as old, limping zebras. When a lion comes around, the old zebras are naturally worried, because they are the slowest and weakest in the pack. Now imagine someone (e.g., the Federal Reserve) comes and puts a fence around the lion. The weak zebra can live on a lot longer.
The point, Johnson said, is that you are already at the end of the business expansion. Now you have leveraged balance sheets with companies with no cash flow.
That’s a problem.
Disclosure: NBCUniversal and Comcast Ventures are investors in Acorns.