As published in Scotsman Guide's Residential Edition, July 2008.
Two decades ago, while working as a financial planner, I spent most of my time counseling families, small-business people and individuals on money matters. Occasionally, people would come into my office and ask for a personal loan.
These requests were for all sorts of business opportunities, investment schemes and get-rich endeavors. According to the people in search of these loans, each was a "good deal."
In fact, no one ever told me, "Alan, we have a real stinker for you," or, "Here is an idea that simply won't work.
I entertained these "can't lose" propositions for one simple reason: I truly believe that helping people improve their lives also helps society as a whole. I didn't always agree with the investment idea or lend the money, especially not when a couple tried to convince me that ostriches would be the next big revolution in lean meat. But for every idea that didn't take flight, there was also a legitimate money-making opportunity.
The borrowed money that allowed those investments also helped the greater good. As I said above, lending helps society as a whole.
Someone once told me, "Where your money goes, your heart will follow." Over the years, I've accepted that as an unequivocal truth. For example, if you buy stock, it won't be long before you're checking the price of that stock almost daily. You'll read stories about the company, and you'll concern yourself with the people associated with it.
The same thing happens with charity. When you give money to a charity, you care about what the organization does.
When I lend money, I know that somehow, the world will be better because of it. In fact, the residual effects of lending are an important reason that I continue in this business. Those effects occur as money trickles through a community and helps everyone who touches it along the way. In reality, the money we lend or help lend goes far beyond us and our clients. Some of it even makes its way to charity and humanitarian efforts.
Whenever I hear negative news about real estate finance, I try to remind myself of all the good that has come about because of our industry. Imagine what the world would be like if no one could borrow money. How many businesses and organizations that today support a wealth of charities and nonprofit groups would be able to do that? Not many.
Knowing that the money I lend ultimately affects society for the better is why I continue to move forward despite tough market conditions. This is where my enthusiasm for lending began and where it has remained for more than two decades.
Alan Gay is president and founder of IH International, a financial-planning company based in Greenwood Village, Colo. IH International is a portfolio lender offering real estate-backed commercial loans. Gay can be reached at (888) 252-6429 or by e-mail at email@example.com. IH International is online at www.ihinternational.com.