Bruce Moffatt was born and raised in Etobicoke, Ontario. A serial entrepreneur from his teens onward, he emulated his grandfather, a successful Etobicoke entrepreneur and businessman, by starting and running a number of creative businesses in his 20s before hitting his stride in the financial industry as an investment advisor and portfolio manager. His professional designation is Certified Investment Management Analyst, obtained by going back to university in his 30s to The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. He reports it was, without a doubt, the most challenging and difficult academic pursuit of his life, yet the most intellectually rewarding.
In his personal life, Bruce Moffatt is an accomplished off-road motorcycle racer, having won bronze and silver medals representing Canada at World Championship Enduro events in Europe and across North America. Today, Bruce is married with two sons and is at the peak of his game as managing partner of Terra Cotta Financial Group, innovating, growing and continuing to guide clients toward their financial goals.
Where did the idea for Terra Cotta Wealth come from?
The name Terra Cotta Wealth was born out of the musings and machinations of myself and John Hayes. In trying to create an enterprise-level name, rather than use our names as founders, we wanted a name that would transcend generations. Indirectly, we learned that terra cotta (tiles) protect more family property than any other material in the world.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My typical day starts early. I am a voracious reader, often with many books on the go, and I use the early morning for quiet time to absorb new ideas and facts. It is very easy to get distracted and get pulled in many directions all day long. I ramp up my personal productivity by compartmentalizing the day—focusing on taking specific tasks to completion, or to the point of handing them off to a staff member for wrapping up. It is a discipline long developed.
How do you bring ideas to life?
“Necessity is the mother of all invention.” To me, that axiom explains the germination of all my ideas. Then it’s just a matter of working backwards, being creative, and performing multiple iterations to arrive at the ultimate deliverable.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Unfortunately, there are no trends that actually excite me these days. I have many worries and concerns about the convergence of today’s socio-political and technological trends that I do not believe will bode well for humanity both financially and economically in the future. One could highlight renewable energy, or medical and technological advances, but too many of these great human achievements seem to be compromised from being cost efficient and ultimately deliverable to the global population.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Plowing ahead—we call it the ‘80% Approach’ at Terra Cotta Financial. What it means is that if you’re 80% sure, get it done. No one can ever be 100% sure of anything. If you wait for that, you’ll never get anything done. The law of diminishing returns makes sure of that.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Be confident. Take the steps you want when you want. Don’t wait. It always works out.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
There’s an economist named Harry Markowitz who won the Nobel Prize for Economics in 1990 based on his work in Modern Portfolio Theory. Basically, he used mean variance optimization to achieve portfolio risk/return optimization. I maintain he was not entirely correct.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
I continue to study and stay on top of my education, as well as industry trends. This includes history, politics, the arts—not all industry specific—to broaden my overall knowledge of the world. I recommend everyone else do this in order to stay well-rounded.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
Identifying my weaknesses with regard to achieving my goals, then surrounding myself with great people to help fill those gaps and keep moving to the next level.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
I started a retail business in my 20s that had thousands of stock keeping units (SKUs) and was also labour-intensive at the same time. I overcame the problems it created by shutting it down, taking my loss, and starting something new.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I don’t really have a single business idea that I can simply unpack from a one-line interview question. In reality, offering a simple single business idea may come across as a bit trite. There are many, many business ideas out there. Pick one you are passionate about and execute it.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
This past weekend, I gave my youngest son, Chris, $100 for gas to drive up to the cottage for his brother’s (Connor) 25th birthday. As a surprise he brought one of Connor’s old high school friends that he hasn’t seen in ages. Great reunion, great times.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
GoldMine is our core customer relationship management (CRM) software. It is client focused—all emails, presentations, meeting notes and conversations are recorded for consistency and accessible by all team members. The program helps as a regulatory back up, too.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
There are two:
The Ascent of Money by Niall Ferguson. It’s a big picture world view of the evolution of the world of money. So many lessons can be learned from this book.
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less by Greg McKeown. It’s an introspective view of money and material wealth, coupled with an analysis of what’s really important.
What is your favorite quote?
“You become what you think about.”
This quote, as I have discovered in further research, is actually backed up by biblical scripture, neuroscience, and quantum physics.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.