White Water Rafting and Investing

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They’re More Alike Than You Might Think

They don’t have to tell me that they haven’t been kayaking or rafting before. There is a look in their eyes that I recognize almost immediately as they approach the boat. It’s fear. Maybe they can’t shake the story they’ve heard about a friend of a friend of a friend drowning. Maybe they’ve seen pictures of sharp rocks clustered in the rapids. They’re afraid because all they’re thinking about are the risks. It’s dangerous. That fear can be paralyzing.

But I’ve been kayaking and rafting for years. And I’ve guided many fearful people down the river. I know that brushing aside their concerns won’t help them. Instead, I listen and offer comfort as they share their fears. After they’ve been heard, they are ready to listen. I describe how the raft works, we go over safety procedures, and we discuss what to do in potential situations. I reassure them that I will be there to guide them at every turn.

From Fear to Float

Then I help each of them into a PFD (personal floatation device), strap a helmet on their heads, and arm them with paddles. A miraculous thing starts to happen. Their fearful expressions morph into hesitant smiles. By the end of the trip, most are confident and ready—even excited—to conquer new rivers. They shuffle out of the river carefree and boasting of their heroic experience. It’s as if they don’t remember their fears at all. Instead, they remember a fun day on the river filled with friends, challenges, and victories.

I’ve learned a lot of life lessons on the river. We all have fears. Some coming to the river for the first time fear falling out of the boat or the raft. Others seem to come to the river fearless—at least of the river. They might be coming to the river to escape feelings of fear about a life decision ahead of them or of a medical diagnosis facing a loved one. I’m impressed with those who come to the raft in spite of their fear. They remind me not to let fear rule.  

I’ve also learned that fears can be overcome. The light of knowledge dispels the darkness of fear. On the river, fears are assuaged as people learn about the equipment, safety features, and safety procedures. That knowledge is empowering and it replaces fear with confidence.

From Fear to Financial Success

Investing is not that different than rafting and kayaking. When new clients come to the office, I sometimes see something in their eyes that I recognize from the river. It’s fear. Maybe they can’t shake the story they’ve heard about a friend of a friend of a friend who lost it all in the recession. Maybe they’ve heard that stocks, bonds, and options are risky and they will lose their money. Maybe someone told them investing is gambling. Just like I do with the people on the raft, I listen to their fears and concerns and acknowledge there are risks, just as the river has risks. Then, I arm these new clients with knowledge. I describe how various investments work, we go over ways to mitigate risk, and we discuss what to do in potential situations. And I reassure them that I will be there to guide them at every turn. Over time, the fear leaves their eyes turns and a smile of confidence emerges as they watch their investment journey moving them closer to reaching their life goals.

Rafting has taken me to beautiful places that few have seen. It has been a rewarding adventure.  Our clients have beautiful goals and dreams in life. Investing in stocks, bonds and options can be a rewarding experience. And, more importantly, they are components of the financial success that helps our clients realize

I help individual investors build and protect their wealth.


WealthGuard Advisors, Inc. is a Registered Investment Adviser.  California Life Insurance license numbers: Casey Murdock #0F01130.

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