“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” — Jeremiah 29:11
Richard Rock spoke a few weeks ago at a luncheon sponsored by the Business Forum, which is led by Mark Collins as a way to enable North Idaho business men and women with tools to support them to achieve greater success in the business world and be role models of sound business practices in our community.
As a resident of the Bay Area, Richard was chosen as speaker and attracted a packed crowd at The Resort.
Richard grew up in Coeur d’Alene and graduated from CHS and the University of Idaho. He went on to earn an MBA from Stanford Business School and then became employee #31 at eBay. Richard was one of the key employees, responsible for developing relationships with corporate partners. All of this success for Richard came at a price because of an eye disorder, retinitis pigmentosa, that was diagnosed at a young age and became progressively worse.
Richard left eBay and is now CIO of Caprock Group, a wealth management company overseeing more than $4 billion in client assets. Although nearly blind, Richard has overcome obstacles to found Caprock and assist families in achieving their goals. Beyond that, Richard is married to Michelle, they have three children and Richard serves as an elder in their church.
Having a chance to interview Richard was a privilege. Here are some excerpts from our conversation:
Richard, I can imagine the situations you have advising families that have substantial fortunes on all of the issues that come up. I am sure many people would love to have the issues on how to handle large amounts of wealth. On the other hand, I am sure it also comes with issues and problems. Can you describe this?
That is so true; money can be a curse or it can become a very useful tool. We see people of all incomes that money and possessions can be a terrible master that controls our lives. I believe that is why the Bible talks more about money and possessions than almost any topic. Jesus reminds us to know where our heart is! We try to educate and guide our clients on how money is a very useful tool and can be used in philanthropy for much good. Money in our society is also complex. How we approach relationships, taxes and holding assets all must be done with care.
Most important, money should not define who you are. No matter how much you have, how hard you work, how successful you have become, money doesn’t change who you are. What your true values are, we need to strive, as the Psalmist says: “Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”
As chief investment officer of the firm, you must have a lot of insight into the world today and the markets. What advice, if any, can you give to the people reading this column?
It is interesting that the average person thinks we have some insight that can predict the future and honestly we have no idea what events lie ahead and what the effects will be. That is the reason we keep our clients diversified and take a cautious approach to any investments. That is good advice to any person regarding their portfolio. My other advice would be to be as debt free as possible. Remember Proverbs 22:7 that says, “The rich rule over the poor, and the borrower is slave to the lender.”
The issue of debt is one we face as a nation with the federal debt but also student loans, credit cards and pension funds to name a few. Do you see this issue of debt and borrowing as a serious issue in the future?
Absolutely. We are seeing events that we have never seen before. Many European nations and banks only provide “negative savings rates” on bank accounts and bonds. This means you have to pay the bank to have your money there. Student loans here are foolish at best and immoral at their worst. We offer lavish perks at colleges to attract students and pay for them by raising tuition to a ridiculous level. The Bible doesn’t specifically say borrowing is sinful but it gives very clear warnings about being under the control of the lender. I recently had an Uber driver pick me up on a weekend and he related that he had taken this second job to pay for his daughter’s tuition. He was determined she would have no debt.
We used to have savings accounts at the bank so you could save for Christmas presents or even a layaway plan for people to set aside a present at a store and pay for it prior to Christmas Day. Unfortunately we now have people borrowing more this Christmas and they don’t have last year’s spending paid for yet. I would urge readers to be debt free!
I am sure your life is packed full with the demands of being the CIO of a large firm. How do you prioritize your time?
I have three priorities in my life. First is my faith. To be responsible to my family, church associates and clients, I need to be in the word of God. Second priority is my family. Michelle has been involved in CASA and foster children. In fact we raised a foster daughter who is now on her own. Our daughter Naomi and son Matthew are entering their teen years and this is a very important part of our life. Third is my business, and sometimes this is tough to keep this in the right relationship because I am a Type A personality and love my position and our firm. Fortunately the technology today has helped tremendously cope with my loss of sight and we are a blessed family and firm. A verse that I love is Colossians 3:23: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
Richard, thanks you for your time. You have a fantastic life story and a lot of wisdom to share!
Bob Shillingstad’s religion columns appear Saturdays in The Press. Email Bob: firstname.lastname@example.org