Devin Banerjee is a financial journalist and currently serves as senior financial services editor at LinkedIn, where he oversees original reporting and curation of financial news and views for LinkedIn’s 690 million global members. He was previously an editor and reporter at Bloomberg, where he covered investment management before overseeing coverage of M&A and the private equity industry. Devin is an honors graduate of Stanford University and holds the Chartered Financial Analyst designation.
Devin and his wife live in San Francisco, and in normal, non-COVID times he travels between SF and New York fairly continually. At LinkedIn, when learning about new colleagues, shared is “what’s not on your LinkedIn profile” — for Devin, that’s usually his obsession with tennis. In the early 2000s, he was a nationally ranked junior player.
Team Sammy: Share with us a little bit about growing up – your family and community.
Devin: I grew up in a suburb of Los Angeles. My parents came to the U.S. from India in 1979, leaving their families in order to attend business school. After graduating and working for several years, they founded a financial consulting company focused on regulatory compliance, which they’ve run for the past 36 years, serving clients across the country. My older sister, Natasha, is an oncologist and an assistant professor at UCLA. My passion for tennis comes from my dad, who was a member of the Junior Davis Cup team in India.
THE GRAY CASH BOX
Team Sammy: Share with us your first money memories.
Devin: My parents bought me a gray cash box with a lock and key when I was probably 6 or 7. Sometimes they would give me the change from a gas station or store purchase when we were together and I’d add it to the box, which I kept under my bed. Every week, I opened the box to count the money, update my ledger (a sheet of printer paper), and organize the coins with roll wrappers. I kept money in that box for about a decade. Every now and then, the problem was finding the key!
TRIED AND TRUE BUSINESS
Team Sammy: What was your first job?
Devin: The time-honored lemonade stand was my first experience in business. Perhaps not the freshest lemonade in California, but when temperatures in the San Fernando Valley hit triple digits, my blend of Minute Maid concentrate, cold water, ice, and sugar served my drive-up customers just fine. I pocketed 100% of the proceeds on days when I was alone, and when my friends joined I kept 50% and distributed 50% among them.
SPEND LESS THAN YOU EARN
Team Sammy: What was your first savings memory?
Devin: My concept of building wealth was formed as soon as I began earning money as a kid. At the time, I only wanted the numbers on my cash-box ledger to rise — never to fall. This required a commitment to spending less than I earned, which I hold to this day.
FOLLOWING IN HIS PARENTS’ FOOTSTEPS
Team Sammy: If your parents talked to you and taught you about money/personal finance. What do you remember? What, if anything stuck?
Devin: I’ve certainly adopted my parents’ economical approach to money. It’s less a frugality and more a commitment that, if I’ve decided to spend money — however much — on something, I can’t let it go to waste.
Team Sammy: At what age and how did you come to realize money had value?
Devin: I truly realized the value of money when, at 17, I suddenly wanted a lot of it. My best friend and I had decided to take our hobbyist passion for aviation to the next level by pursuing pilot’s licenses, and the cost was going to be about $10K apiece. I had saved enough from years of tutoring and summer jobs to cover it, but the decision to plow my savings into one pursuit was a weighty one at the time. I carry that FAA license around in my wallet every day.
HOW TO BE WEALTHY
Team Sammy: One question, we ask everyone is: If you could only teach a child one money habit, what would it be and why?
Devin: Live below your means. As my favorite money writer, Morgan Housel, notes: How much you make doesn’t determine how much you have, and how much you have doesn’t determine how much you need.
What that means to me — and the way I would explain it to a child — is: If you earn an honest living and find happiness in immaterial or inexpensive things, you will be wealthy.
INCORPORATE FINANCE INTO THE CURRICULUM
Team Sammy: Should personal finance be taught in schools?
Devin: Absolutely, and I don’t understand why it hasn’t occurred yet in widespread fashion. I believe it should begin as early as elementary school with basic money habits and responsibilities, progressing via more advanced and practical curricula into high school, when students are gaining independence with an eye toward adulthood. More colleges big and small should also offer personal financial management as an elective.
THOUGHTS FROM DEVIN ON A FEW PERSONAL FINANCE TOPICS
FINANCIAL PET PEEVES
Devin: Of course, mastering your income, budgeting, and saving is a success. But don’t let that prevent you from taking an additional step and learning about investing. In my 20s I found that many friends and peers had not grasped the power of long-term compounding. With the appropriate education, anyone can build financial security into their future via a long-term investing plan. The earlier, the better — but it’s also never too late to start.
Devin: Buried in a book I read about 15 years ago called The Fabric of the Cosmos, by Brian Greene, was a line that crystallized my attitude toward learning: “Deep understanding yields its own empowerment.” To me, it showcases the true power of learning. Learn enough about a subject — like money — and you will gain the freedom to choose what you do, when you do it, where you do it, with whom you do it, and much more.
FAVORITE MAGAZINES, WEBSITES, RESOURCES
Devin: Mastering your money doesn’t necessarily require mastering the money industry, but it helps. My team and I produce a newsletter with the latest goings-on in finance, investing, and the economy, which 200K+ readers get each week. You can read it and subscribe for free at http://lnkd.in/thisweek.
LEARN MORE ABOUT DEVIN
To discover more about LinkedIn senior financial services editor Devin Banerjee visit: https://www.linkedin.com/in/devinbanerjee/