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  • Writer's pictureMatt P. Clements

Financial Freedom and the Art of Bonsai

Confusing the Container for the Life-Force…

My wife is an author. She says she loves trying to find words for the things that really can’t be put into words very readily: Our commonalities like our hopes, dreams, losses, fears, cherished passions and hoped for futures. Writing, Ronda says, will always fall short of the real life meaning, just like marketing will always fall shy of the real substance of any true business. “But it’s a great challenge!” she says, “to try and capture in words what can help elicit a commonality of understanding about the things that truly matter but cannot ever be completely spoken.

I’m not a writer. I’m not a marketer. I don’t like either one. But I do like the work that I do (most of the time). And I truly love knowing that I have made a big (sometimes huge) life-changing difference in my client’s financial quality of life. In fact that’s what keeps me going; what gets me to sit down and write this short blog post.

In my world, I tend toward the understated. For example, I prefer a morning spent trimming my bonsai trees, shaping them delicately and carefully in my sun-dappled garden and watching them evolve – some over decades now – into magnificent green works of art. And  I prefer the weekend relaxation of fixing a set of brakes on our little vintage trailer over a night out with friends. Just how I tick. Ronda would probably say here “yes Matt’s the strong steady type.

And it strikes me just now, that this has been my acumen for founding and growing and refining my financial investment advisory business of almost 3 decades now.

She’s right: I don’t give a whit about posting, twittering, networking. What I DO care about is what I can do to bring you closer to the art of tending your own financial garden.

What I AM committed to is the awareness of remaining present with myself and with my client in the expression of my and your daily wealth (i.e., our time, our resources, our loves) while cultivating our daily living into a true master work of art and realizing one’s own financial vision in life. That is “my kind of party!”

When I first meet with a new prospective client and we are reviewing their current portfolio, I always shake my head as we begin the self-awareness process ...and they tell me that they’ve never been asked these questions by their current of former financial person!

Wait a minute: They’ve never had the one person who most directly takes charge of managing their financial life ask them one single question about who they are as a person?

Questions like: “what dreams, hopes, loves, losses, fears have shaped your life; what beliefs and attitudes seem to repeat themselves and block you from living your life fully; what, for you is a successful life – a life well-lived?”

…Questions like: “what is something you dream of doing now at this stage of life, and don’t know if or how it might be possible while at the same time protecting your future?”

And I ask you this: How can you or I ever experience our life dreams; how can you or I ever reach beyond the status quo of the statistical average; how will you or I ever reach what is a life well lived in our book …if we don’t ask these life-cultivating, soil enhancing questions…and be darned sure that our answers are weaved into — and an integral part of — every aspect of our life decisions and choices – and especially our financial ones?!

…The short answer is, we can’t. These ARE the primary foundational questions that must be amended into the soil of our financial gardens, if we are to move beyond status quo and live this one life we are called to live.

To continue a moment with my bonsai analogy:

We have many very good containers in the financial industry today for holding your assets and growing your financial tree. If you’ve ever looked at bonsai containers they all have fairly basic and similar shape and functionality (as do the common tools of the trade used by any one of us in the financial investment business.) We all have access to pretty much the same financial products, fee structures, etc. The container is only that: the container.

What makes the tree grow and flourish is everything else – everything by and large ignored by mainstream financial assets management: the quality of the soil and what goes into it; the setting where any particular tree best thrives (i.e., what area of the garden makes this particular tree most alive, most happy); the timing and care on a daily basis in which your tree is tended, trimmed, supported.

The former container-focused approach to investment services is the common financial portfolio management. The latter organic gardening approach to investment services is financial management as an applied science and art in the mastery of self!

I have at home, a large collection of bonsai containers. They’re elegantly functional and structurally solid. Essential. I appreciate them very much. These containers hold my bonsai. But I don’t confuse the container with the life force.

Tending to the life-force is where I am most passionate in my own life and where I have come to see that I, as a Registered Financial Advisor, can make the very most of each good container (i.e.,  investment holdings) for the sake of each unique tree (i.e, each unique client).

Working with Clements Investment Management, Inc. I can promise that you will be asked about what makes your life soar (…and you’ll probably have to hear a bit about the steady conscious art and science of growing a flourishing bonsai tree from time to time as well…)


Mattawe P. Clements, founder/CEO of Clements Investment Management, Inc., – a seasoned assets management firm that specializes in clients during life transitions who seek a fully engaged process of financial empowerment and vision throughout their life time with its unexpected changes.


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