My College Experience

Bill Parrott |

I attended the University of San Diego, a gorgeous campus with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean, Mission Bay, San Diego Bay, downtown San Diego, Coronado, and so on. US Navy jets routinely flew over our school from Miramar or Fighter Town, USA. The weather on campus was pegged at 75 degrees – year-round.

During my tenure at USD, I played football, joined a fraternity, and lived on the beach, so you can imagine how I spent most of my time. Hint: It was not in the library. I majored in Business Administration, an ideal degree for those pining for a middle management job, not that there’s anything wrong with that. My classes did not light a fire in my soul or arouse academic curiosity. I wasn’t a motivated student, and nor were several of my roommates.

In the last semester of my senior year, I enrolled in an investment course. I was hooked. My professor was Dr. Dennis Zocco, and I was mesmerized by his teaching and knowledge. He dressed well, wore a big gold watch, and introduced me to the world of finance. He developed a software program called INVESTOR that allowed us to invest in a portfolio of stocks, bonds, and alternative assets. I took his course during the fall of 1987, so we had the opportunity to experience Black Monday from the safety of a classroom – thankfully.

After graduation, I devoured investment books learning what I could about Buffett, Lynch, Graham, and other Wall Street legends. I couldn’t get enough.

My first adult investment was the Franklin Utility Fund in 1987, after the crash. My initial investment was $150 and $25 per month. I stayed invested in the fund for a while before I sold it to buy individual stocks. In hindsight, I’m not sure that was a wise decision. The utility fund has averaged 9.3% per year since November 1987, and If I remained in the fund, my investment would be worth $73,580 today. The broker who opened my account earned a $6 commission before taxes. I don’t have an investment minimum at my firm because of his actions. He set an excellent example, answered my questions, and followed up with me often.  

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John Wooden said, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” My real education started once I graduated from college. I had found my passion and calling, and I wanted to learn more. A former roommate’s father managed an investment office, and he told me if I passed the series 7 exam, he would offer me a job. I sequestered myself in a cubicle in the library of my Alma Mater and tore through the study material. I passed the exam, he offered me a job, and thirty-two years later, all is well.

It doesn’t take much to spark a wildfire. A small match can burn hundreds of thousands of acres, and I’m thankful my fire was lit in my final semester.

Learning never exhausts the mind. ~ Leonardo da Vinci

August 23, 2021

Bill Parrott, CFP®, is the President and CEO of Parrott Wealth Management in Austin, Texas. Parrott Wealth Management is a fee-only, fiduciary, registered investment advisor firm. Our goal is to remove complexity, confusion, and worry from the investment and financial planning process so our clients can pursue a life of purpose. Our firm does not have an asset or fee minimum, and we work with anybody who needs financial help regardless of age, income, or asset level. PWM’s custodian is TD Ameritrade, and our annual fee starts at .5% of your assets and drops depending on the level of your assets.

Note: Investments are not guaranteed and do involve risk. Your returns may differ from those posted in this blog. PWM is not a tax advisor, nor do we give tax advice. Please consult your tax advisor for items that are specific to your situation. Options involve risk and aren’t suitable for every investor.