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Managing $20m in Assets Before 30, José Hernandez, Financial Maven, Reveals His Secrets for Generating Wealth for Millennials

“There’s a certain candid honestly in his video content,” I said to a colleague at Starbucks while sipping a warm cappuccino.  I had been browsing Jose’s Instagram page, known as The Millennial Money Mentor and discussing it with a friend.

“I love how he breaks down complex subjects in layman’s terms,” I pointed down at his recent video on Index Funds.

Jose’s journey in finance started young, his family came to the US as hard-working immigrants with little money and even less understanding of it. 

Through their grit and sacrifice, he was able to obtain a degree in finance. His aim is to use that knowledge, along with professional experience to positively impact our generation. 

I got a chance to sit down with him for a few to discuss generational wealth. 

So, Jose!  I hope all is well!  Tell me a bit about the idea behind The Millennial Money Mentor and your journey to this point.

Thanks for having me!

This whole entire thing got started fairly abruptly, and essentially out of nowhere. I’ll provide some insight into who I am and what I come from first.  

I don’t come from money. My family and I came to the US from a country called Venezuela. We had it tough growing up.

I mean tough.

My parents always made sure my brother and I had everything we needed; but there was a lot of scarcity/stress/anxiety in the environment I grew up in, primarily due to the constant lack of money.

I don’t blame my parents one bit. There’s only so much you can do when you come to a country with zero to your name, later in life at that. A major driver of mine is making sure they are taken care of. 

They just wanted to put my brother and me in a position to live better lives than what they had. I cannot imagine the sacrifice required.

The primary thing I got from my parents was my work ethic.

Seeing them hustle day in and day out, no matter the circumstance, to raise my brother and me in this country lit a fire in me. I truly believe my work ethic and desire is what sets me apart from the majority of my peers.

As far as the finance world goes- it was my “back up” plan. I was blessed with the opportunity to have my tuition paid for, thanks to baseball.

I decided to study finance in school because:

  • A. I know that people make good money in the field.
  • B. It was something I could manage with my busy schedule as a Division 1 Athlete.
  • C. I knew I could serve others through it.

I worked very hard to network and get in front of people while I was in school.

After a lot of hard work, I managed to land an opportunity at one of the top investment advisory firms in the country. Statistically, I had no business being a part of the team and firm I was with. But, hard work pays off.

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The team I worked for was unique. It was in charge of the 401(k) and equity compensation (stock award) platforms for some of the largest corporations in the United States.

I was a young kid, right out of school, with immigrant parents that don’t know the difference between a stock and a bond, managing investment assets for clients that had entire careers at companies like Coca-Cola, Home Depot, Amgen, Disney, etc.

For two years, I served clients as a financial advisor and planner. I was responsible for just north of $20mm in Assets Under Management and was on pace to really start scaling my book of business.

I was 25 years old, helping people twice my age make serious decisions about how to manage their investment assets and putting together long term financial plans, centered around their financial goals.

On the weekends, I was studying to get through the CFP (Certified Financial Planner) Designation. I had put myself in a position to be very, very successful both professionally and financially. 

Then I left.

Why? Long story short: compliance. The corporate wealth management world does not tolerate any sort of “outside business activity”.

I started learning about the power of social media. I started seeing how you could leverage it for more than just sharing photos with your friends. I started learning about personal branding, and the opportunities that could come with it.

I went out on a whim and posted my first branded video (ever) while on a business trip. It was awful. I go back to it and laugh sometimes. 

Within 24 hours I received a call from compliance.

They canceled the upcoming trip I was scheduled for and had me come back to Atlanta to meet with them to talk about the whole “Millennial Money Mentor thing”.

A firm line was drawn in the sand: stay with the firm and be very successful there, or leave and “make my videos” on Instagram.

Believe it or not, I took the latter option. I couldn’t believe it. The opportunity I was leaving on the table was true “once in a lifetime”.

But I didn’t like the idea that I was being limited in the impact I could have on a larger scale. That’s how “The Millennial Money Mentor” was born. That was in March of 2019.

Since then, I’ve been busy putting out content and growing my brand. I’m now with another firm, in a non-advisory position, so I can have much more flexibility in what I create and build; while I keep the lights on. 

It’s only been 9 months, but I’m incredibly proud of what I’ve built so far. Never in a million years would I have thought on Jan 1 of 2019 that I would’ve left the firm and position of (what I thought was) my dreams to start building the platform that I have. 

After running so many financial plans for people, I started seeing things in terms of decades. I figured if there was ever a time to take on some risk, it would be now: when I’m 25, with no children. Plus, if it came down to it, I could always “go back”.

But, I don’t want to go back. I want to build the vision that I have in my mind.  I’m very excited for what is to come.

As I build my brand, I’m also working very hard to launch an on-demand educational platform centered around personal finance and investing.

My goal is to share as much as I can to help people become their own financial advisor.

A lot of our subscribers are focused on being financially savvy.  How can someone without much capital start to create generational wealth?

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The first place to start is understanding where you stand. That’s where any great financial plan starts. I think everyone should know what is on their balance sheet (the breakdown between your assets and liabilities).

There are two things you need to know in order to make progress in anything in life:

  • where you are now, and where you want to go. 

A lot of people want to jump the gun before understanding where they stand.

By taking some time to look at the breakdown of your assets vs liabilities, you may see some areas that require immediate attention, primarily on the liabilities side.

The main thing that eats away at cash flow (which is necessary for any form of investing) is high-interest consumer debt.

The more that you can free up precious cash flow, the more you can aggressively accumulate assets; which is what actually builds wealth over time.

The other variable is income. This one is not as straight-forward but it matters a ton. Whether you are climbing the ladder of your career or building a business or both, great use of time and energy in finding ways to increase your cash flow.

Your cash flow is the lifeblood of your personal finances.

The best way to increase your income, in my opinion, is to become more valuable at what you do. That may mean becoming more accredited at your role, serving your customers at a higher level, etc. It may be cliche, but money follows value.

I’m still working very hard to do this myself. 

Lastly, I think we all need to remember that it takes time. The most important variable in the compound interest equation is not the rate of return. It’s time.

If you want to get technical, it’s actually the exponential variable in the equation. Investing is a fantastic way of building wealth to pass onto future generations, but it won’t happen for you in a year, nor should you expect it to.

A lot of people get burned by the “get rich quick” mentality in investing.

Consistency wins long term. As any good financial advisor would tell you, it’s about “time in the market, not timing the market”.

As an entrepreneur, what advice would you give someone who wants to invest?

It is essential that you have a really clear understanding of what your financial goals are.

That is what should be driving the conversation and decision making when it comes to your finances and investing.

Knowing what you are trying to accomplish gives you context. The context is golden.

If you know what you want, why you want it, and how much time you have to get there, that is half of the battle. The rest is executing on it.

Understand, what is best for someone else is not necessarily what is best for you. Everyone has different circumstances, goals, priorities, and preferences.

Always do what is best for you. I’ve seen a lot of people get caught up in what other people’s portfolios look like or what the “hot stock” is on the news. All of that is irrelevant. With every decision you make, you should be asking: 

  • “Is this right for me?”
  • “Is this helping me get closer or further from where I want to be?”

Take some serious time to write out what you want financially. It may be to have a portfolio that provides you with x in monthly or quarterly dividends.

It may be to accumulate x amount of dollars for a large purchase in the future. Know what it will take to get there, and execute.

Also, understand that “investing” doesn’t have to mean buying stocks or real estate. For me, lately, it’s been investing in coaches, teachers and my business. You might consider “investing in oneself”.

If you are entrepreneurially inclined, you understand that your business or businesses may provide you with higher returns than what the S&P 500 will give you.

That doesn’t mean the return is automatic or even guaranteed. I think engaging in any form of business activity can be riskier than investing; depending on the business model.

I read that you were a professional baseball player!  How has the sport helped you as an entrepreneur?

Playing Major League Baseball was the only thing that I ever wanted in my life. All of the “finance stuff” was the backup plan. I was blessed with the opportunity to play Division 1 baseball on scholarship.

To my surprise, and to the surprise of many of the people close to me, my name was not called for the Draft after my senior year. I was very talented and did not expect to hang up the cleats right after college.

I was extremely heartbroken, but that’s life sometimes. I had the opportunity lined up with BAML and I shut the door on my athletic career without ever looking back. 

Baseball is what taught me how to compete, work hard, and be a leader. It taught me how to develop grit, deal with failure, and leverage pressure.

I think all of those qualities are crucial to bringing the vision you have in your mind to real life. 

Do you believe entrepreneurs MADE or BORN?

This is a great question. I think I’m a case where one was “made”. I never thought I would go against the grain to start my own thing. I saw myself staying at the firm I was with forever. I still look back and wonder “what were you thinking, man?”

That being said, I do not think everyone is fit for starting their own thing. It can be very lonely and difficult, especially early on. 2019 has been one of the more emotionally and psychologically challenging years of my life, both personally and professionally.

I share my personal struggles and losses on social media because I want people to understand what it all really looks like. Skin in the game is very real. I think there is a disconnect when it comes to that, especially on social media.

How does your background in finance help your entrepreneurial journey?

It helps immensely. I was talking about goals earlier. My goal at the moment is to get my educational platform launched and cash flow. While I think investing is incredibly important, right now, the availability of capital for marketing, testing, scaling, etc. is more important.

As such, I’m trying to save up as much cash as I can. I can say that with confidence as a “finance guy” because I know what I want and have a good idea of what it will take to get there.

Again, “investing” doesn’t always come in the form of owning stocks or real estate.

If I had different goals, the way I managed my cash flow would be different. It all comes back to perspective and what is most important to you.

I have a lot of years ahead of me to build a great investment portfolio. In my mind, a big part of that will be made possible through the eventual success of my entrepreneurial pursuits.

FIRE ROUND

What’s your best financial advice for beginners?

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Put yourself in a position to free up as much cash flow as possible to start investing.

It takes money to make money in investing, but it doesn’t have to come at once. You can dollar-cost-average into the market and do just fine over a lifetime. 

Remember that time is your best friend in investing. Even if you’re not in your peak earning years, you can still start building a great portfolio by investing what you can and then letting time do its thing.

The more time you have on your side, the less steep drops in the markets matter. The more time you have on your side, the more aggressive you can afford to be as well (you have time to recover).

Early on, it’s about the accumulation of assets. People get so tied up in “what is the best stock to own?” or “when is the best time to invest?”. Worry more about starting to build a base of assets for you in your investment account(s).

I always point people to low-cost ETFs or index funds because they provide you with diversification and access to different markets without having to worry about your portfolio blowing up if one company goes under. 

Your financial success primarily comes down to your habits and behaviors; not how many home runs you hit in the stock market. 

After working with enough wealth management clients, one theme was apparent: they amassed their wealth through consistent action.

They invested consistently, leveled up their skill sets throughout their careers, and they avoided unnecessary spending as much as possible. It’s simple, but it works. 

Also, don’t be afraid to leverage technology. I’m a big fan of Robo advisors for people that don’t want to be in charge of selecting their own investments.

If you go that route, all you have to do is make sure you’re funding the account(s) and that the strategy being used is suitable for your goals and risk tolerance.

As far as accounts go, I think you should go with the account structure that is most suitable for the goal(s) you have laid out for yourself. Retirement accounts (IRAs, 401Ks, etc.) are most suitable for when you are older in life.

Brokerage accounts are more suitable for people that want to be more flexible when they can withdraw funds without penalty. 529 Plans are suitable for building an education fund for your children. Those are just some examples.

Again, it goes back to what you want.

Lastly, I think it is crucial that you develop an understanding of the fundamentals. You don’t have to be Warren Buffett or Ray Dalio to be a good investor.

You just have to know what you are trying to accomplish.

You also need to understand the risk. I spend a lot of time talking about risk; because it is real. Familiarize yourself with the risk profiles of the different asset classes, and subclasses.

If you understand risk, it gives you context. You want to have context before markets take a beating, not after. Make sure the risk you are taking is appropriate for your goals and risk tolerance.

Favorite Financial Literacy Book

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I really like “The Little Book of Common Sense” by Jack Bogle, founder of Vanguard. He provides you with a lot of the information and fundamentals required to understand investing at a high level.

Favorite Entrepreneur and Why

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This might sound funny, but it’s Rob Dyrdek. I just remember watching Rob and Big when I was younger and thinking “man, that guy just enjoys life and business”.

Obviously, I know he’s worked very hard for what he has. But he seems like such a happy and ambitious guy. 

What are some GREAT money-saving tools for investors and entrepreneurs?

Mint is fantastic for tracking your cash flow. I use it personally. It allows you to link up all of your accounts to one centralized place so you can view it all together. That includes your student loans, credit cards, mortgage, etc.

It allows you to create personalized budgets based on your spending habits. 

It’ll even let you know when you’ve overspent in any one area. Accountability and tracking your spending are crucial. I know there are other apps out there like it; that’s just what I use.

I bank with Bank of America still, even though I’m no longer with them. They have a program called “Keep the Change” that rounds up any purchase you make from your checking account to the next whole dollar.

It sends the difference between the purchase price and the next whole dollar to your savings account automatically. Little things like that can go a long way.

If your bank offers a similar program, I recommend you look into it.

If you were to start over with $0, how would you build your empire?

Content. Content. Content. 

Content does not lie. It allows you openly display you know what you are talking about while providing others with entertainment, education, or both.

I’d also work hard to get in front of as many people as possible and see how I could be of value to them. Closed mouths don’t get fed.

I still do that now. I’m incredibly grateful to be a guest on this blog!

I’m always open to interviews, podcasts, etc. It’s crucial for getting your name out there. 

Finally, where can people find you?

The best place to find me currently is on Instagram: @TheMillennialMoneyMentor.

I’m always sharing content on personal finance and investing. Do not hesitate to reach out. My DMs are always open.

If you have a LinkedIn, I’d be happy to connect with you on there as well: www.linkedin.com/in/joserafaelhernandez

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Written by John D. Saunders

John is a Marketing Strategist and Consultant with a knack for financial literacy. As the Founder of 5Four Digital,
a Marketing Agency in Miami, John leverages his understanding of money management and Marketing to create financial opportunities.

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