An Interview with Donna Buchanan, Owner of Investment Watch

This article was published on: 03/20/19 1:51 PM

1. What is it like to own a business?

Overall, I find it exciting because every day is different.  You and your team must handle the needs of your clients and that is the top priority.   Beyond that we must handle the finances, marketing, social media, event planning, human resources, facility management and the training required to keep each of us up to speed on cutting edge technology and the newest trends in the financial services field.   You walk in with a plan of what you are going to accomplish for the day and suddenly something comes up which changes your agenda completely and your day is completely different then what you planned. That’s what keeps it exciting!

2. How do you strike a balance between work and family?

I think this is tough for anyone because you never feel like you are giving the time necessary to either to do a really good job.  I think it is also very different depending on the age of your children. The older your children get the less they need you daily; however, the issues they are dealing with become more important as they get older and you just must adjust pending on their needs at the time.  For the most part if you can work the same hours they are in school and late or weekends when they have plans so they don’t notice that you aren’t around, it seems to work out. As the mother of three daughters, I think it is always more important to lead by example then to lecture about what you want.  I was in the office on a part time basis while my girls were young and as they got older and especially once my two oldest went off to college, I was able to open my own office and they have expressed many times how proud they are of me for that. My youngest daughter was still in high school when I opened the office, but my husband was in a place with his business where he could be home more with her while I spent more time at the office building my business.  She liked it too and would go over with me and do homework if I had to work on something at night. She had her own space there, so she liked it. All three of my girls and Lexi’s boyfriend Max have used the office for a study space on weekends and nights. It is quiet and comfortable so the perfect place to study.

3. What is your goal in advising clients?

My goal is to listen to my clients and help them verbalize their lifetime goals and dreams.  Once we know the goals, we can plan the finances necessary to make them a reality. For example, if someone wants to retire at 65 and travel while also leaving a given amount to each of their children and a favorite charity, we plan for these events. We have the planning software necessary to plug in the amount we have discussed for each event, so we will be able to put a plan together that considers what you have saved and what you need to save to meet each of your goals.  The savings to meet this goal is done through a diversified plan which considers your time horizon and risk tolerance.  We will be with you each step of the way from concept to the achievement of your goal.

4. What is your vision for this business?

Everyone wants to feel like they are making a difference in some way as they pass through this world and I am not any different in that respect.  I want to do this with excitement and meaning. I think creating excitement while moving towards your collective goals is so important for everyone.

We strive to find out what our customers are interested in and what they would like to be better educated about and to do this in a way which is interesting and meaningful by bringing in experts in that area and conveying the message in an interesting way.  People have lots of choices when choosing a financial advisor. I believe that what sets my team apart is that we know everyone’s name and we know about their family. No one is a number in our office, everyone is a respected client. We don’t care if our client has $5,000 to invest or $500,000.  Everyone is treated the same. We work with our clients to build a financial foundation, but we also care about the client as a whole – and I believe this shows through the amount of contact we have with each of our clients and the realization we must meet each client where they are, and, in a place, which is comfortable for them.  We are a one stop shop in many respects. We are “The Watch Group” and under this umbrella we have Benefit Watch which offers employee benefits such as life, health, disability and corporate retirement planning. Investment Watch offers financial planning and Risk Watch covers property and casualty insurance needs.

5. What drives you to succeed?

First and foremost, my very strong belief that if you are going to do something do it right or don’t do it at all.   I grew up in an entrepreneurial family. My parents came from very humble beginnings but neither of them was afraid of hard work and dedication.  They built a very successful fuel business and raised 5 children. My father was steadfast in his belief that you never asked someone else to do something that you would not do yourself.  So many people have told me stories over the years but the one I heard the most was one Christmas Eve when it was so cold and snowy, a customer ran out of fuel. My dad finds out about it and took the call.  He had an on-call driver but didn’t want to bother him on Christmas Eve. He arrived at the customer’s house and jumped out to fill their tank. They were so shocked and asked, “What is the owner of the company doing delivering fuel on Christmas Eve”? His response was that he was exactly the person who should be doing it.   Last week, March 7th marked 29 years since my father died suddenly of a heart attack but the lessons he taught me about business and integrity are as fresh in my mind today as if he had just said the words.  

6. Who were some of your Mentors?

My first job out of college was in a management training program at a local bank.  I worked in various areas but when I was assigned to the Baltimore Metro region, my boss was a guy that had graduated from Washington college 10 years before me, so we had something in common right from the beginning.  He was a great manager with a quick wit and an uncanny ability to get the best out of each of his managers even though we were a diverse group. He could be tough, but he was always fair. He told us (his 10 managers) that the bank did not pay him to manage 10 branches, they paid us to manage our branch.  He told us to make good decisions and we could always count on him to back us up as long as our decisions were made with sound judgment and good logic. If we did that, even if we were wrong, he would go to bat for us and he did. It gave us the freedom to run our offices as if we owned the place and to take pride in that.  If you have never worked in a bank, you wouldn’t know this but its pretty easy to get fired. You lose money for a customer and you are going to be shown the door. You would have people stealing checks from mailboxes and coming through your drive through to try and cash them. Some were so good at it that they would have the proper ID to match it.  It was tough. My assistant manager was excellent and her job and so dedicated. One day she cashed a check through our drive-thru with proper Id, but it still turned out to be fraud. Upper management was ready to let her go but my boss fought tooth and nail for her because she had used sound judgment and played by the rules. She kept her job thanks to years of hard work and because he went to bat for her.  Any time I have been in a management position since then or now that I own my own business, I relay the same message to people with whom I work. You use good judgement and I will always have your back.

7. What inspires you to do what you do?

Trying to make a difference by helping people meet their goals and thoroughly enjoying working with people.  

8. What are 3 fundamentals of Investing?

  1. Start Early
  2. Invest Regularly
  3. Have a sound asset allocation that corresponds with your age and risk tolerance.  

9. What do you say to a client that is very risk adverse?

Benjamin Franklin once said, “In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes.”

One other thing which is certain is investment risk.  There is no such thing as a risk-free investment. Stocks, bonds, mutual funds and exchange-traded funds can lose value if the market takes a down turn.   Certificates of Deposit carry inflation risk. Risk is inevitable, and you can not avoid it, however you can manage it. One of the best ways to manage risk is to diversify your investments. Diversify across sectors, regions, holding periods and international risk over several different countries or regions.  This is where working with an advisor is different then working with one of the do-it- yourself platforms. It is true that your trading costs will be less, however you can lose a lot more money then mere trading costs if your portfolio is not properly allocated and reallocated on a regular basis to fit your time horizon and risk tolerance.

Financial Planning for lifes milestones

Join our mailing list to receive a free eBook and get notified of future posts to our blog!


We hold frequent events, seminars and workshops for clients and anyone who is interested in learning or discovering new products and strategies. Check out our events page for upcoming gatherings!


We are currently seeking a financial advisor to join the Investment Watch team. If you or someone you know is looking for a change or wants to go out on their own in a smaller office please reach out!

Most Recent From Our Blog

Ready to meet with a trusted Investment Watch advisor?

We provide free consultations to discuss your financial situation. We will LISTEN to your case and tailor a strategy that meets your goals.

Check the background of this financial advisor on FINRA's BrokerCheck

Registered Representative Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a Broker/Dealer, Member FINRA/SIPC to residents of CA, DE, FL, GA, MD, NC, PA, TN, VA, WI, WV, DC. Advisory services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a Registered Investment Advisor.
Cambridge is not affiliated with Investment Watch, LLC