Finance is on many of our minds these days due to the pandemics economic fallout. This is something that Dr. Anthony M. Criniti IV, one of the leading experts in finance, knows all too well and has been working tirelessly to help people survive and thrive in this new world. Criniti is often called Dr. Finance, which is not surprising considering the dynamic aspects of his groundbreaking financial strategies. He has written three books on different aspects of finance each one providing readers with financial wisdom that is both revolutionary and extremely timely. We were thrilled to be able to sit down with Criniti to learn more about the man behind the legend and his work.
You are one of the leading experts in financial planning. Can you tell us why you decided to take your career in this direction?
Although I have been an entrepreneur since childhood, my interest in financial planning strengthened when I worked as an investment/ retirement specialist at Vanguard right after obtaining my undergraduate degree. By speaking with clients about their financial problems every day, I began to realize the significance of learning how to plan for your future as early as possible. There are so many people who live paycheck to paycheck who never even consider the concept of saving money. As we are seeing now during these hard times, only a small percentage of people have a solid short term emergency fund, and an even smaller percentage have enough money to last during their retirement years. I knew early on that I can make a profound difference on the lives of many people by educating others about how to properly manage their money and the significance of finance.
What has it meant to you personally to be so successful in your career?
My success is a reflection of how much I have failed in my life. Coming from a relatively poor area in Philadelphia, most of my time on this planet was one struggle on top of another. But success is not just about how much you have failed; it is also about how much you have learned from your failures and used that knowledge to help you move forward. Principle 26 from The Most Important Lessons in Economics and Finance states: “The greater they are, the harder they failed.” (Criniti, 2014, p. 57). All of the greatest business leaders in history have an unbelievable track record of failing. The key difference that made them special though is that they never gave up.
You have coined the term the “Great Pandemic” when it comes to the financial effects of the shutdown. What does that phrase mean to you, and how can people survive this time financially?
The Great Pandemic is a label reflecting the severity of the times that we are living in right now. I applied this phrase early on in the pandemic when people still didn’t want to come to terms with how big our economic problem is (and will be). Family, friends, and fans keep asking me daily: Are we in a depression? My answer was unofficially: “yes”, but officially: “soon.” Once the unemployment rates rise above the levels of the Great Depression, then there will be no more denying what we already knew: we are in a depression. It is important to apply a label because this period will always be an economic and financial benchmark to be studied in economic and finance.
This time can be survived financially by uniting and not dividing. It is easy to blame others when the going gets tough, but that is not the answer. Hiding out alone in a bunker underground until this is all over might cause more harm than good. Besides, what kind of life is that anyways!
My advice is to stick together with your family and your community. From the Survival of the Richest: “It should never be forgotten that what took us to our current state of civilization is our proper management of wealth together. Collectively we have created civilization, and collectively we can destroy it. Thus, in a worst-case scenario, collectively we can recreate it! (Criniti, 2016, p. 217).”
When it comes to financial planning your style is very direct and honest. Has that ever cost you in terms of your career?
No, actually the reverse. When I was a financial planner, being very direct and honest was the best way to be. It ensured that I helped my client and her or his family out in the best way possible. If I fudged even an ounce of truth about their financial plan, it could have a significant impact on their financial goals and their lives. Honesty gains good long term trust and respect.
As a professor, being direct and honest has helped my students learn better and more efficiently. If I gave them the wrong information or danced around explaining the material to them, I would have disadvantaged them in learning the required topics and, subsequently, achieving a better grade.
In your book The Necessity of Finance, you take on the fact that economics and finance are two separate topics, even though they are always lumped in together. Can you talk a bit about this?
Academically, finance is still considered economics. For example, the major Nobel Prize winners in finance receive a Nobel Prize in economics. This disturbing fact helped to set me on a course to give finance the respect it deserves as an independent science. To do that, I had to go back to the drawing board and determine the real definitions of the two subjects. What really is the difference between economics and finance?
In The Necessity of Finance, finance was defined as the science of management of wealth for an individual, a group, or an organization. On the other hand, economics was defined as the science of management of wealth for a nation or a division of a nation (Criniti, 2013, pp. 10-15). These two definitions help to explain the major similarities and differences that were not properly understood before. The two sciences both share the commonality of being a science of wealth management. However, the major difference has to do with whose wealth is being managed. As simple as these conclusions are, make no mistake, they are profound and should disrupt both sciences immensely. In particular, it could lead to the addition of a separate Nobel Prize in finance and a revolutionary way of teaching the two subjects throughout the academic world.
Your work is groundbreaking in so many ways. In The Necessity of Finance, you talk about the “financialist”. Can you explain this concept to us, and why it is important in these chaotic times?
As I demonstrated in The Necessity of Finance, economics and finance are two separate sciences. Once you accept this statement as truth, then it becomes important to distinguish their scientists. It is common knowledge that an economist is a scientist in the subject of economics. We now need a similar term in finance. A financialist was defined as “a scientist who specializes in the science of finance (Criniti, 2013, p. 25).”
The financialists are important, especially during The Great Pandemic, because they can help find better ways to manage wealth for individuals, groups, and organizations. Their conclusions can directly impact financial entities by creating or improving financial technologies. Ultimately, the best financialists are also active financial managers who use their scientific knowledge on the field to make sure their academic conclusions align with reality.