personal finance

PODCAST: Doug Glanville on Race, Sports — and Personal Finance

Kiplinger contributor (and former Major League Baseball player) Doug Glanville shares insights from years playing the game — and investing. Also, what's in the upcoming financial stimulus.

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Transcript

David Muhlbaum: Doug Glanville has been a Major League Baseball outfielder and sports commentator, frequently writing about race. He’s also turned his eye to inequities and discrimination in the personal finance world, and shares with us his insights and experience. Also in this episode, the prospects for new federal stimulus checks. 

David Muhlbaum: Welcome to Your Money’s Worth. I’m kiplinger.com senior editor David Muhlbaum, joined by senior editor Sandy Block. Sandy, how are you?

Sandy Block: I’m doing great, David.

David Muhlbaum: Good. Well, one of my other jobs around here at Kiplinger is occasional editor of our Closing Bell email newsletter, which is about how the stock market performed each day, along with some related investing insights. For the past week or so, as I’ve been reading this, Wall Street has just been fixated on what’s going on in another city altogether. I’m talking about here, Washington, D.C. Traders want to know if Congress is going to pass more economic stimulus, and the day-to-day market results have been really closely tied to the prospects of a stimulus bill and how big it’s going to be.

Sandy Block: So every day, it’s will they or won’t they? We only record once a week and today, Thursday, is one day away from the deadline Congress has set for itself to pass the bill.

David Muhlbaum: Yeah. That’s because we’re in the lame duck session of this Congress. I’m not sure what any of that has to do with ducks, but lame seems pretty apt.

Sandy Block: Oh yeah, right? I mean, why does everything have to be last minute? They’ve got the time management skills of a college freshman.

David Muhlbaum: Oh wow. I have a college freshman. This might be worse. Anyway, give me your best guess of what we’re going to get. Start with the checks. Will there be checks, because I think that’s the first thing people care about?

Sandy Block: Oh yeah, checks, money in your pocket, money in lots of pockets. That’s why this is a popular form of relief. Although there’s an argument to be made that it’s not the most direct because lots of people get checks who don’t really need it, but it sure is popular.

David Muhlbaum: Yeah, stimulus check, woo hoo. It just sounds so good, so yes. Now, how much Sandy? How much?

Sandy Block: Well, less than last time. Last time being this spring, when the CARES Act included $1,200 each to most taxpayers, plus $500 per dependent child under 17. How much this time? What we’re anticipating is checks of roughly half of that, probably around $600 per person.

David Muhlbaum: Hmm, something better than nothing.

Sandy Block: Well, better than a poke in the eye with a sharp stick, as they say, or a lump of coal in your stocking.

David Muhlbaum: Ho, ho, ho, ’tis the season, I suppose. Okay, what else might Ebenezer Scrooge there cough up as part of the deal?

Sandy Block: The deal is tied to Congress’s end of the year spending bill, which is part of why we have all this must pass, do it now drama. In terms of benefits to individuals, the most significant one will be likely extension of unemployment benefits, with the federal addition of $300 a week on top of whatever states pay. Those would otherwise run out on December 26, and that is money people really do need.

David Muhlbaum: Yeah, December 26. I suppose if Congress pulls this off before Christmas, it might give the holiday shopping season a last bit of juice?

Sandy Block: Maybe. This sort of stimulus is a blunt instrument. Some people really need the money, and it goes directly to food and groceries and basics, and some don’t need it at all. That’s part of the reason the country’s savings rate took off this year. A lot of people just put that money in the bank. They used it to build up their emergency funds, and in between, I guess, that’s where you get the discretionary spending that could help retailers.

David Muhlbaum: Who may themselves may or may not need it depending on their pandemic situation. We can’t make people spend it at restaurants, for example.

Sandy Block: No. It’s an interesting idea, David, but Congress has like, hours. No time for nuance!

David Muhlbaum: Hours to act, right? Yeah, just bring out the stimulus hammer. Hit us please.

Sandy Block: Obviously, $600 may not be enough. We can’t make Congress cough up any more, but we can suggest a look at a piece we wrote earlier this year called Nine Ways to Raise Cash Quickly. This is more about ways to turn your savings, money that you already have but isn’t terribly liquid, into money you need now. We’ll put a link to it in the show notes.

David Muhlbaum: Yes, we will. Thanks Sandy. Coming up on our next segment, we talk with former Major League Baseball player, writer and investor, Doug Glanville.

David Muhlbaum: Welcome back. We’re talking with Doug Glanville, a man you might know from his baseball commentary for ESPN and columns for the New York Times. A graduate of the University of Pennsylvania, he’s taught there too, as well as at the University of Connecticut. He was a Major League outfielder for six years, most of that time with the Philadelphia Phillies, and there’s more. Welcome, Doug.

Doug Glanville: All right. Yeah, I actually had nine years in, so six for the Phillies though.

David Muhlbaum: Oh, my apologies. The other years were with whom? The Cubs?

Doug Glanville: I was drafted by the Cubs in a hot minute in hot Texas. So it was fun. It was a good run, but yes, thank you for that.

David Muhlbaum: Well, in addition to making an error in that introduction, I was also incomplete, because I didn’t mention that you’ve also been a Kiplinger contributor, so let me turn it around into a question. With all these different directions, what’s the common thread that ties your careers and your accomplishments together?

Doug Glanville: Yeah. You have to go back to where it all started. I grew up in a town, Teaneck, New Jersey. It was a town that was committed to diversity, inclusion and not just as a punchline, but really as a commitment in a way that lived and breathed through pretty much every aspect of my life. So I came around when this town was hitting its stride, 1970. It was about five or six years after it voluntarily desegregated, and I started to see the connecting points between our diversity as a town and the larger society in terms of the challenges we faced of getting along and working together. Within that, my parents who ... My mom was from, is from, North Carolina, and my father who passed away 17, 18 years ago, was from Trinidad.

Doug Glanville: They were first-generation college graduates, so they were very interested in financial literacy. When I was fortunate enough to get drafted by the Chicago Cubs in 1991, they were always saying, hey, manage your money, put your money in the bank. So I had a bank account at a young age, and my brother and I started to pay much more attention. Of course, as a first-round draft pick, I became a bonus baby. The financial literacy flowed through these long histories of what my parents were always expressing about the importance of it, and just being educated about how to manage my future. Kiplinger was a magazine that ... Kiplinger came along at the right time, when I was starting to become more aware. I think we got a subscription as a family and I just started to read it, and it just added to what I wanted to understand more of.

Doug Glanville: So it kind of came full circle. As a professional athlete, you’re always concerned about your financial wherewithal and wellbeing. Many players struggle. They go through divorces, usually post-career. There’s so many challenges that they face, despite the fact that if you make it and play at that highest level for a long enough time, you make substantial money. So, it all came together. Of course, now as a father and parent, just working with my wife and just thinking about things like college and it’s a different equation, but a lot of the skills that came through the education I was fortunate to have. That connected all those dots.

Sandy Block: Doug, I have to tell you that there are quite a few of us in the office who are big baseball fans. We were thrilled when we found out that you were a subscriber. But I know you’ve been in touch with our editor, Mark Solheim, for a while. Maybe you could tell us the story of how you two connected and started corresponding.

Doug Glanville: Well, as you know, I was a big fan, truly, of the magazine. I read it cover to cover, and I mean, often. I had a broker after I invested, and I would send her information saying, "All right, I read this." I drove her crazy with that. But, yeah, Mark. There was an issue that typically, maybe annually was about the best places to retire, and Kiplinger had a lot of best places and lists. I get it as a media person, because I understand the power of lists and how it concentrates the reader. So I read these and this one year I was ... I think it was two years ago, maybe, there was a list. Because the aforementioned history, I always had a tremendous sensitivity towards diversity and just the sense of what issues are important, even in the financial landscape to people of color, to how it may differ in whether it’s the advice or how you may rank a society or community as to retire or whatever metric we’re looking at.

Doug Glanville: Because I was always very in tune with that, I saw this list and I said, well, let me look closer. I think at first, it was an exercise about, well, what are the black population? I started thinking that way as my experience pointed me. So I started looking and there were some towns that were less than 1%. Given our discussion, certainly in the last few years, more about race in America and how much it’s been such a part of my life growing up, not only, of course, directly as a black man, but also just how I cared so much about including people. I knew that Kiplinger did a nice job. I know that there was a conscious effort, images of different kinds of people. I was very much grateful for that.

Doug Glanville: I recognized the effort and the intent, but I thought this issue was something that made me ask more questions. So I wrote a letter to the editor, who was Mark, and I just very carefully outlined, through storytelling, why these places to retire may not hold for everyone. I recognize that as a business, and I’m in media also, in sports media, I understand that you have an audience that you have to pay attention to, and they may have certain interests. They may have certain expectations of subject matter that you may not get into. They might say that you’re outside of your lane. So I had a great respect for knowing that they are running a business, and for the magazine to be viable, so that I could read it, it needs to pay attention to their constituents. But at the same time, I thought it’s also important to lead in that area.

Sandy Block: Actually, Mark shared your letter with us. I have to say, as someone who pilots this project every year, we did, after that, start running additional screens to be aware of diversity, because you’re not the ... You were probably the most eloquent person that pointed it out, but you were certainly not the only person who pointed out that a lot of the cities, based on the screens we used, ended up not very diverse.

Doug Glanville: Right, and I think that sometimes when you’re looking at whatever the metrics may be, it’s just adopting them and thinking through, okay, how can we cast a wider umbrella? It’s not easy. I can see that that is a difficult task, but I wanted to at least also emphasize in what I wrote to Mark that these are the factors that I consider as a black man, or having a black family in America, and how they may differ as the mainstream aspect of what people would consider as, based on readership, for example, the readers. I think that was the point. The interesting thing that came full circle is that some of the reckoning post George Floyd and many things that our country has been grappling with recently really always, but in a concentrated way recently, has pointed to the subtle ways that inclusion can be compromised, right?

Doug Glanville: The feeling of inclusion, and something as simple as well, I wouldn’t retire in say, Mesa, Arizona, because maybe I’m from Latin America and I’ve been frustrated with how immigration has been handled there, through how it was policed or whatever, right, things like that. So there, of course, is no one answer for everyone, but I thought the fact that the way Mark engaged, which I appreciated immensely, because he took it on head on and engaged me, and we were able to have quite a bit of dialogue. It led to this more robust relationship, but I have great respect for his work. So therefore, it meant a lot to me.

David Muhlbaum: That’s nice to hear. That’s a much broader conclusion. But one thing that also occurred to me is you’re talking to us from Asheville today. Asheville, I believe, Sandy, was in 2019, was included as one of our smart towns to retire to.

Sandy Block: It wasn’t 2019, but we have included it in the past, particularly when we focused on college towns. One of the reasons I’ve liked to include college towns is they often do tend to be a little more diverse.

David Muhlbaum: The result of your writing to us was actually more consequential things than simply including Asheville, but how do you feel about it?

Doug Glanville: Well, Asheville, I mean now, so we go back here. My wife and I were married here 15 years ago, and we didn’t have a direct connection, other than her parents moved here. So over those 15 years, we visited quite often. Yeah, I mean, it’s a great, beautiful place. I mean, outside of the views and the vistas and the mountains and the fall changing of the leaves, it’s got a very artistic downtown with cutting-edge restaurants. There’s so much happening. Actually, I want to say Asheville recently was in the news because they were weighing reparations. They passed a ... I think they challenged out of the city council, but they were really looking into ways to repair that, be restorative over the history and legacy of slavery and how it created advantage even today. That was really interesting.

Doug Glanville: I know there were some challenges on campuses as to having larger discussions about it. So they don’t seem to shy away, in Asheville, from these questions that we’re all asking. In terms of retirement, I know a lot of people who consider Florida, also now are considering much more Asheville because it really is beautiful, fairly mild weather and low key overall.

David Muhlbaum: As long as I’m locking in on individual places, you mentioned growing up in Teaneck ... about the voluntary desegregation of Teaneck and it being a supportive community. Having just been listening to Bob Dylan’s "Hurricane," which is set in another part of New Jersey, not too far from the same time, it was really a rather different scenario. What was it about Teaneck?

Doug Glanville: I think it was just watching my parents invest in this commitment of a town really trying to bridge these differences. They started a pilot program in sixth grade to integrate black and white students. That pilot program became a way of life in terms of whether it was baseball teams or churches or synagogues. I went to as many bar mitzvahs and bat mitzvahs as I did confirmations and Ramadan. It just was so beautiful to me and the tapestry of people. I think the difference though, it wasn’t what I call color by numbers. It wasn’t like, okay, we have X amount of people who are black and ... There was a real woven tapestry, I would say, of people that committed to this and really genuinely wanted to learn from each other.

Doug Glanville: The way I can show how powerful and enduring it’s been is I went to my 30th high school reunion not long ago, a couple of years ago, and my fellow students, friends from Teaneck picked up exactly where we left off. Nothing changed over the 30 years we had been apart in terms of their perspective of how important it was and what we were committing to, and how much we believed it to be a good way to have great respect for diversity. So I think that stuck with me. I mean, there’s so many examples of playing on the baseball team and traveling around a county that was not diverse, and sometimes having bad things happen to us, from pennies thrown at us, to racial epithets thrown at us different times. Yet our team, our town still banded together around it.

Doug Glanville: So it wasn’t this profession. It wasn’t saying, hey, this is perfect. It was saying that when we do have issues that all of us deal with around race and religion and gender and different ways that we have our identity challenges, we’re committed to working together. We’re committed to seeing it through, to create understanding. That’s what I always appreciate, so I’ve carried that with me to this day. It’s been something that I will always fight for.

Sandy Block: Doug, you recently wrote a column for us about your unhappiness with comments made by the CEO of Wells Fargo about inability to recruit black talent to the firm. You mentioned that you’d had a financial relationship with them going back about 30 years. So we’re curious, did you move your money out?

Doug Glanville: Well, I did not. I did not. I wanted to, at least. For starters, my financial relationship involves a broker who is incredible, and she’s really become a family. So it’s something that I would always talk through her. In fact, all those moves, because I’m one of the ... 30 years you talk about Butcher and Singer and Wheat First and First Union and Wachovia, and all the iterations, and I followed her, really, the whole time. She stayed and sometimes they changed the name plate. That wasn’t really the main connecting point, so that that’s where the decision will lie, but I always do my research. I’m fascinated with the financial world, and I’ve definitely considered other spots because of that frustration. I mean, that really hurt. It really hurt.

Doug Glanville: It was like it felt very personal, and I’m not saying that was his intent. I know he was on the front lines of trying to find initiatives to improve the diversity and the understanding and the culture. But I think it was just the loyalty, I guess, over the years and working with my broker and seeing all the name changes, as I’ve just mentioned. I think that hit hard because it showed, to me, a lack of connecting the dots or the understanding that it’s so much more than just what are my rates of return, or my yields, or ... It’s so much more than that. That financial relationship is really your future. It’s your future built on the past sacrifices, the past, as I mentioned, of my parents. Especially as being black in this country, that legacy doesn’t go very far back economically.

Doug Glanville: So when you are fortunate to have some wealth, you want to see that sensitivity flow through it in a great importance to who is your money manager. You want to see that there’s that understanding. Although he wasn’t talking about his clients, the Wells Fargo clients, per se, those clients are in tune with those issues because they are often workers themselves, like I am at ESPN and others. They also carry with them this effort and this very difficult effort, in the black community, to maintain any generational wealth, because the scales have been so tilted against black America for so long. Whether it’s all the things that I outlined, whether housing discrimination, redlining, and the laundry list of ways that Citigroup identified as $16 trillion in lost money in the economy because of it. For me, I’m not necessarily the expert per se, but I expected that the leadership at Wells Fargo would be so in tune with that, that they would not simplify black talent as who they think is worthy to be hired.

Doug Glanville: They would know that being qualified ... Qualified is a very subjective word. We have so many examples of when people get opportunities or create their own, like Hamilton the Musical or whatever, that great things can still happen. That we need to really reconsider what it actually means to be qualified. One example I’ll give you briefly is Major League Baseball. Major League Baseball has grappled with having challenges of finding black managers to run teams for a long time, and they’re the same arguments that Al Campanis made in 1987. Some of that was based on some racial bias, but it also was a sense of, "paying your dues going through the system." But then what happens often is when the system does fill up with diversity, the rules change, and there’s still some effort that certainly can limit those opportunities because of our own biases in leadership.

Doug Glanville: So I just called on him in this letter, to think through differently about what qualified means. Qualified is a word that drips with bias, because we know there’s nepotism and the favoritism and the compounding privilege, which is using a financial term of compounding interest, right? You know that the same thing that I circled back with around what I wrote to Mark about was that this idea that, well, yeah, if you already have this head start and you keep reinforcing it with advantage, you’re going to maintain that, and you’re not going to see ... You’re not going to appreciate what is happening outside of the realm of your perspective, and there’s much happening when you set your sights so narrowly, reinforced around what qualified means. Yeah, so that was tough and I felt compelled to write. I don’t know if I’ll hear from Wells Fargo or whatever, but I think it’s an important conversation that we’re not just having in the banking industry, but throughout every industry.

David Muhlbaum: In that sense, you felt this very personally, and you acted on it very personally, and it meant a lot to you very personally. But I’m thinking, for someone who essentially shares your values or your perspective, and wants to make decisions about what financial services firm they interact with and make sure that that firm is aligned with their values, how do they go about that?

Doug Glanville: Well, it’s important, and I think that reckoning is happening in a lot of ways, in a larger scale. Because especially for the next generation, I’m 50, they’re very concerned about the social positioning of these companies. I mean, it is a factor on where they buy groceries and bank and go to college. So this is the way it’s moving, and so that sensitivity is very important for leadership to know that people care about what you’re about, so to speak, as a company, as a corporation. Let’s give the banking example. Let’s just say I make it very simple. I say, "Look, I’m going to look for a black owned bank." Now, there are a few, but there’s very little, and if I’m going to ... I might get this wrong, but we’re only talking about $4 to $5 billion in assets. That’s it.

Doug Glanville: I mean, Wells Fargo, as you know, was a $1.8 trillion company, right, a bank. So there’s very few options out there to say, okay, I’m just going to not deal with this. I’m going to make it a very simplistic black versus white thing, but there’s a lot of nuance in between where we can harmonize those. Find ways to make sure we celebrate all people and make sure that we understand that if you have leadership that not only represents diversity and has the different perspectives in the room of decision makers, but they also have the power. That’s another thing that happens. You say, okay, I will have my black CEO, but if this person has no power and can’t really change anything, then it’s not really going to make any difference. It might make it say, okay, you can see this person in this role, but you have to do more than that. It has to be a cultural shift.

Doug Glanville: I think that’s where the rubber meets the road, where it gets very hard when you’re entrenched in a certain advantage, I guess you could say. Then it’s hard to let that go because you see the development and advancement of groups of people sometimes as taking away from the pie that you’re entitled to. When you go back in that history, I mentioned with Wells Fargo, when you built some of the backs of that company on some of the discriminatory practices that have been very outlined over the last many years, then it’s worth reconsidering. Is it, for me as an investor to say, well, okay, I can make 9% instead of 10%. That’s a big difference, but do I want to make 10% on the backs of something that’s completely unfair? So we have to ask those questions.

Doug Glanville: Look, I’m happy. I mean, my broker has been incredible, and in my opinion, should be very high up in Wells Fargo, but that’s just my opinion. But this is someone that is really committed, and that’s kept me in a good relationship with Wells Fargo from a sense of services, but I also know that it has to be about more than that. It has to be about more than how it’s benefiting me. I think when we think more collectively and we see that we can be this harmonious place that has different kinds of people at the table and really having power to make decisions, then I think you’ll address a lot of those issues.

Sandy Block: One of the most interesting things I think about interviewing professional athletes is oftentimes, they go from making hardly any money to making a lot of money in a very short period of time. I think you mentioned you were a bonus baby. What did you learn from that? I don’t know if you ever have an opportunity to advise other professional athletes or just even your students about some of the personal finance lessons that you’ve learned.

Doug Glanville: Well, you make a great point, Sandy, because part of it is, it comes in so quickly, it could go out really quickly, because it’s so overnight, you’re just like, wow. It’s one thing about the bonus, but then when you make it to the major leagues and then you finally signed that big contract, which isn’t guaranteed, but I was fortunate to be in that boat, it’s a total game changer, literally. All of a sudden you’re like, okay, you have to come upon all this decision making on what do I do with it? Now, I was fortunate that I had a lot of background with my parents, as I mentioned. So I felt like I had sense of what to do, but I still made a lot of missteps and decisions. You have to pick a broker, you have to, whatever it is. You want to invest in a restaurant. You want to buy nice cars, whatever it is, there’s a lot of pitfalls.

Doug Glanville: So I tried to express to the next generation of players, as I became the veteran player, about the patience involved getting educated around it. Of course, I point to Kiplinger regularly. I think it’s such a digestible magazine on financial literacy, on top of just providing sage advice. So I think there’s a lot, and I believe that that education is so critical. It’s lacking a lot in sports, and part of that lack is just denial, as an athlete. You don’t want to face the day that it’s going to end. You don’t want to face it so you push it out of your mind. If you keep pushing out of your mind and not dealing and starting to think you’re going to have this money and this level of income forever, that’s when you get a lot of trouble.

Doug Glanville: It’s hard to talk to them when they’re in the middle of their career, but you got to keep trying. There’s alumni associations. There’s a lot of institutions that are trying harder now to educate these players more. That doesn’t mean you won’t make missteps. I’ve invested in things that have been disastrous. So it’s not saying that it won’t happen, but you can recover. You can find ways to learn from them and build on it.

David Muhlbaum: What was one of the disasters?

Doug Glanville: Well, I mean, I think-

David Muhlbaum: You can’t just put that out there.

Doug Glanville: Yeah. I mean, definitely, I’ve had some bumps with real estate. I know one time I had to fire a broker once, which was really hard. I was young, and it was because I think they put all their stocks. I had a very diverse portfolio. I think it was when the bond market was 14%. It was ridiculous. Then he said, "Oh, let me move this money over," and then he put it all on five stocks. One of those stocks was Sunbeam. I don’t know if you remember Sunbeam, but Sunbeam-.

David Muhlbaum: They made appliances?

Doug Glanville: Yeah, they had ...

Sandy Block: Appliances?

Doug Glanville: It was a bunch of other things in their holdings, and they completely collapsed. We’re talking zero.

Sandy Block: Oh gosh.

Doug Glanville: Yeah, and I wasn’t diversified at that time, so that was one example of many. That was more of investing mistakes. I remember investing in companies that had a lot of turnover. I couldn’t find the broker at the time, things like that, but it did smooth out. That part did smooth out, but yeah, it’s hard. You’re playing, you’re doing well, you’re traveling, you’re like, "Hey, I could buy that. Let me open up a disco." I know these old terms, right, but open a club.

Doug Glanville: So, I did some real estate and around the market when it fell out from under us. That was not fun, but worked it out, figured it out.Took some lumps, took some losses, but I was fortunate to still end up on my feet. It’s not always the case, and you feel for people because it comes in quickly and it goes out really quickly. Then all of a sudden, the music stops and you’re not the big league ball player anymore.

Sandy Block: Right, it’s a short career, that’s right.

Doug Glanville: It’s a short career, and it’s a hard transition. You don’t see that there’s something else.

David Muhlbaum: If you can learn your lessons while there’s still something coming in, then you can get back on your feet.

Doug Glanville: Absolutely. So yeah, I hope to hope we can all figure that out, but yes.

Sandy Block: That’s great.

David Muhlbaum: We’re glad you learned some lessons. I mean, it’s really nice to hear that you’ve learned some lessons from Kiplinger over the years. I think we’re now ... we’re learning lessons from you, too. So we appreciate hearing your message, and we look forward to seeing you in the pages of Kiplinger in the future.

Doug Glanville: I appreciate it. Thanks for having me and give my best to Mark for me.

David Muhlbaum: That will just about do it for this episode of Your Money’s Worth. We wanted to give Doug Glanville some extra time, and so we’re taking a snow day on doing a closing segment. If you like what you heard, please sign up for more at Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your content. When you do, please give us a rating and a review. If you’re already a subscriber, I hope you’ll consider adding a rating, too. To see the links we’ve mentioned on our show, along with more great Kiplinger content on the topics we’ve discussed, visit kiplinger.com/podcasts. The episodes, transcripts, and links are all in there by date. And if you’re still here because you want to give us a piece of your mind, you can stay connected with us on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or by emailing us directly at podcast@kiplinger.com. Thanks for listening.

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