Welcome to the next edition of Better Know a Millionaire Investor. This week we introduce our first woman investor to the series – Elle Kaplan. Also, this is the first millionaire investor who working in financial services, or rather owns her own financial services firm.
If you're not familiar with the Better Know a Millionaire Investor series, this is an opportunity to gain insights from young millionaires – typically individuals who made their first million before 30. You can read other interviews in the series here: Better Know a Young Millionaire Investor.
With that being said, I'd like to introduce Elle Kaplan, CEO and Founding Partner of Lexion Capital Management. You can also see Elle's other works, including her speaking seminars, at her personal website, ElleKaplan.com. You can also follow her on Twitter at @ElleKaplan.
Let's get to know Elle Kaplan a little better…
Getting Started and the First Million
Elle, let us know who you are and how you made your first million?
Elle: I am the CEO and Founding Partner of Lexion Capital Management. I left an extremely successful corporate career of over a decade on Wall Street because I dreamed of working towards something more meaningful: setting a new, higher standard in the financial industry, one that empowers clients and prioritizes transparent, ethical money management. Lexion Capital's mission is to do just that, and our goal is to revolutionize Wall Street.
So how did you make your first million?
Elle: I made my first million by saving from every paycheck, and growing that wealth through my own investing acumen.
Elle Kaplan's Investing Style
Where do you currently invest your money and why?
Elle: Lexion Capital. Because I am really good at investing- I moved to NYC with $200 and grew it into a considerable amount of money. And that's why I run a firm that focuses solely on growing wealth at the fiduciary level.
Has that changed over time?
Elle: No. My fascination with smart investments and growing wealth began in my childhood. As a toddler watching Mary Poppins, I wondered why the children took their tuppence to feed the birds, instead of putting it into the bank to accrue interest like their father recommended.
Many other young millionaires I've talked to have made their money by starting their own business. Can you become a young millionaire without being an entrepreneur?
Elle: Yes. The stock market. Commodities. Bonds. All fascinating (and fun!) ways to became a young millionaire.
Elle Kaplan on Risk and Change
What's the biggest risk you ever took? Do you regret it?
Elle: Leaving a lucrative and stable career to found my own firm was a huge gamble, and no, I have never regretted taking that risk. It was a choice between forging my own path, pursuing my passion for investing on my own terms, and working towards a higher mission, vs. remaining a cog in a corporate wheel forever. With Lexion Capital, my job is not a job- it's a calling. I love what I do every single day.
If you could make one change, what would it be?
Elle: Well, I'm only 5'2″, so I would like to be a little taller…
What advice do you have for young adults and college students when it comes to entrepreneurship and money?
Elle: The most important thing is to pay yourself first (<- Click here to Tweet this). Don't think of saving as budgeting or penny-pinching – think of it as paying your future self. Get in the habit of saving at least 20% of every paycheck. Once you have saved a few months' worth of living expenses in an emergency fund, set up an automatic transfer to divert a portion of your paycheck directly into an investment account. With investing, the greatest asset you have is time – it's never too early to begin!
What I Learned from Elle Kaplan
First, I want to thank Elle for taking the time to share her insights with me. Just like me, Elle's fascination with wealth started young – which I think is a trend I highlighted last week when I looked at your millionaire neighbor. As I've mentioned time and time again, it's so important to get started early and then watch your money grow over time.
I also totally agree with Elle's thoughts on paying yourself first. It drives me nuts when people think of saving money as “penny-pinching” as Elle puts it. If you get in the habit of saving money, you'll have a nice nest egg in no time at all! It's so easy, you just have to make it a priority. Whatever you decide is your priority tends to happen, so if you make savings your priority, you can easily start to build up a nice amount of assets.
Finally, I thought Elle's reasons for founding her own company were interesting. I interned at a brokerage in college, and I was shocked at the seedy sales tactics used by the firms, and the way brokers would steer their clients into products based on commissions rather than the client's best interests. There is so much that your financial professional isn't telling you, and it's refreshing to hear Elle recognize this a try to build an investment firm based around transparency.
What are your thoughts on starting young, paying yourself first, and transparency in the financial services sector?