By day three Natalie Pace’s voice was hoarse. As she stood at the front of a conference room at the Ambrose Hotel in Santa Monica that felt less like a classroom and more like an intimate meeting– an environment especially conducive for the occasion– Pace promised retreat attendees that she’d answer questions regarding their personal finances at the end of the session.
Pace has taught nearly 100 investor retreats, from here to Florida and taught seminars for thousands such as TD Ameritrade and Peak Potentials. Her journey to the Amazon bestsellers list began in 1998, when she was faced with the task mapping a new financial plan. As a single with a son, Pace made a decision to pare down expenses after selling her home.
In addition to her books topping bestselling lists, Pace’s E-zine has been a go-to for many investors and the first to predict dozens of Stock Market hardships. Based on what she calls “forensic investigative analysis”– a method that includes searching beyond the surface and into SEC-filed reports — she alerted subscribers to take Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac out of their investment portfolios in 2003. Pace warned her readers about the eventual General Motors bankruptcy. While the greatly anticipated Zynga and Groupon IPOs were all the buzz in 2011, Pace advised her subscribers to avoid them.
Her last retreat, at the Ambrose Hotel in mid-October was a three-day financial adventure. Attendees didn’t have any experience in stock market trading. Built for beginners, it quickly picked up pace as Natalie debunked long-held industry myths.
Given Wall Street’s tumultuous nature, Pace encouraged attendees to diversify their stock portfolios and to be wary of funds that are dividend-heavy. Though diversity in trading wasn’t the only feature of the weekend. Ranging from 18 to 90 years old and from Los Angeles to Maine, attendees represented a diverse spectrum of the population in age and assets.
“You need to have a safe amount that is not in any portfolio,” Pace shared with the class. “If you’re 50 years old, you need to have 50 percent of your money in a safe place.” She calls it “age-safe” — the money that should not be at risk in stocks (but can be invested in safer assets).
Many elderly investors have fallen victim to financial advisors who ignore the industry standard “age-safe.” A few of the attendees had found themselves in the hands of advisors who inverted the rule: a nearly 80-year-old attendee had nearly 90 percent of her total assets in funds.
Pace clued the class in: ETFs are cheaper, more transparent, more easily traded and offer more diversity than most mutual funds. However, salesmen have a greater incentive to sell mutual funds for the higher commissions, loads and fees.
Several years ago, retreat attendees and business owners Bill and Kendra Sweet of Maine, heard Pace speak at a Millionaire Mind event and immediately signed up for her newsletter.
“She is magnetic and smart,” Bill said. “What she said played out. I had been reading her work and books for years, but we weren’t in the position to act on the information until now. We learned from Natalie that if we want our savings to grow, we need to rebalance it every so often.”
Still, Pace doesn’t discourage investors from employing money managers and advisors. Instead she shares tools and methods to help investors stay informed and close to their investments.
Bonne Gibson-Brydon has attended the retreat twice, but in October she was a volunteer.
“The information she teaches is rich,” Gibson-Brydon said. “Coming back to the class as a volunteer, which Natalie allows students to do after attending the retreat twice, was exactly what I needed. I would practice after class, but wanted to get a firm grasp.”
Gibson-Brydon, along with seven others volunteers were present. Their presence was two-fold, five year volunteer Richard Morris shared.
“I always come back to re-engage with the tools,” Morris said. “There is an aspect of refreshing myself by volunteering for the retreats. I come to assist the students and answering their questions helps me practice my skills in finding and processing information.”
Pace aims to instill confidence in her students, and the retreat attendees who previously felt they had few options when it came to investing.
“She gave me the tools to look at this stuff on my own,” Morris said. “She gave me the confidence to look and understand what was going on, how to manage my money, and evaluate those who are managing my money.”
Pace also helps students decipher what she calls “Fed-speak,” the complicated language the financial media employs.
“I can listen to the financial news and not feel panicked,” Bonne Gibson-Brydon said. “I don’t get to see Natalie often, but the few times I do get to see her have and continue to impact my life.”
As a financial freedom advocate, Pace believes in conscious investing and aligning your money with your heart and morals.
“What attracted me most,” says Morris. “Is what I captured in her message: put your money where your heart is. I can do conscious investing and can put my money where I’m aligned morally and ethically. I really don’t like to invest in a company that I feel isn’t run sensitively. Natalie showed me I did have choices and could be in control of my portfolio and investment.”