Investment manager

What a Chinese-American investment manager would tell his parents

  • Mindy Yu grew up in Queens, New York, in a working-class family that lived paycheck to paycheck.
  • Today, she is an investment manager and helps people grow their wealth.
  • If she could go back in time, Yu would give her parents three pieces of advice.

As Chief Investment Officer at Improvement, Mindy Yu helps hundreds of people invest wisely in the market and grow their wealth. But Yu herself comes from humble beginnings.

She grew up in Queens, New York, in a Chinese immigrant family that lived paycheck to paycheck. Yu’s father worked as a freelance handyman, while his mother worked as a seamstress in Manhattan’s Chinatown. Her mother eventually had to quit her job because Yu and her two siblings needed more support when they started school.

“These were definitely not office jobs with regular pay. I have an older brother and sister, so we saw the hardships my mum and dad had to work hard to support our family” , Yu told Insider.

When it was time for Yu to go to college, she began exploring other industries, such as fashion merchandising, before pursuing a career in finance. She says, “After beginning to understand the power of investing, understanding how the financial industry can help people plan, save and think about their financial future, it was an enlightening moment for me.”

She adds, “My experiences have really transformed the way I think about advising clients, especially because you don’t want them to fall into the same traps of being scared and not investing properly. That’s always something thing that comes to mind, learning from my mistakes and making sure our customers don’t do the same.”

When asked what financial advice she would give her parents if she could turn back time, Yu replied that she would tell them these three things.

1. Focus on retirement planning

Yu says, “They were so focused on us and helping three kids finish college that they didn’t focus on planning their own retirement. They cannot depend solely on social security benefits.

Although her parents may not have access to traditional retirement accounts like a 401(k) or Roth IRAYu would like to have conversations with his parents about planning for retirement earlier in life.

She adds, “It’s really not too late to start now and have those conversations with your parents. You can’t take out a loan later in the future to maintain your cost of living and health care costs. Those- These are going to increase steadily year after year, and it’s going to be a burden.”

2. Start an emergency fund

An emergency fund is three to six months of living expenses typically kept in a high-yield savings account that’s easy to access in case of an emergency.

Yu acknowledges that her parents always wanted to save in an emergency fund, but the odds were stacked against their family. She says, “It’s very hard to come to this country without speaking English. It’s hard when you’re trying to make a living. It’s like being thrown in the middle of nowhere and not being able to communicate, which you you need to try to survive and make a living.”

Yu remembers that her family used to drive an old car when she was growing up, and sometimes that car broke down in the middle of the highway. If she could turn back time, Yu would explain to her parents the importance of having a dedicated emergency fund for the times their car breaks down on the highway.

3. Invest any extra savings

Yu wishes his parents had started investing in the stock market sooner.

She says, “When my parents were trying to save and trying to fit in here in the States, they didn’t have a lot of money and financial planning services were very expensive. No one would talk to you if you didn’t.” I don’t have a certain amount to work with.”

The language barrier also made it difficult for Yu’s parents to access basic personal finance skills, such as investing and retirement planning, which would have made a huge difference in their family’s lives.

Yu adds that older generations within Asian American communities tend to be more conservative investors. She says, “I think the community is still focused on saving dollar by dollar, instead of what that dollar looks like if you invest in the market. There just isn’t enough literacy and motivation for the older generation to do it.