Welcome to The Driven Fiduciary. This is my blog where I share my thoughts on various wealth management topics, financial markets, and an occasional automotive perspective.
Did you know that there are more wealth advisors or “financial planners” over the age of 70 than under the age of 30? With a population continuing to age there does not seem to be a slow down in the need for solid financial planning on the horizon.
My journey to wealth management was not exactly typical and actually began when I was 15 with an internship. It was during this internship that I first began to understand the many areas that the industry had failed to protect the very clients it was hired to serve. It was during these beginning formational years that I realized that I could actually be apart of a company that was not only geared, but founded on the basic concept of doing it the right way.
Too many “wealth management firms” focus exclusively on the older generations, the ones that currently possess wealth. Little to no attention is given to the next generations, or the ones who will end up with that wealth. As a young financial planner I understand the younger generations. I am able to understand the social trends, technology bias, and expectations that come with the generation. However, as a young financial planner working apart of the Clearwater Capital Team I also understand the financial markets, investment principles, and the fiduciary focused wealth management process. I strive to combine these two categorical competencies into a service model that serves families across multiple generations.
The Need to Dissect…
From a very young age I had an odd fascination with trying to take things apart. My mom tells me she would come into my room and find toys, robots, even rubix cubes completely taken apart and scattered throughout the room. At first, my parents probably found this extremely weird and even a bit troubling. However, after a while my parents realized that I was doing so simply so that I could see they worked. Whatever it was, I just had to disassemble it piece by piece so that I could understand how it worked. I was curious.
Fast forward to when I was 15 years old when my dad walked out into the garage on a Sunday afternoon. To his horror, I had almost completely taken apart the engine of our 2012 Saturn Roadster. Was I even basically trained in Mechanics? No. However, I had a laptop with access to youtube and a set of wrenches so I was apparently good to go. After his initial terror, I remember him taking a deep breath and solemnly asking ”James…Why?” My answer was of course an enthusiastic “Well you know dad, I really wanted to see how the Intercooler fed air into the turbo. I couldn’t see the pipes under the engine cover, so I had to take the engine cover off, and then there was the heat shield in the way so I had to remove the..” You can see how this story played out from here.
Fast forward a decade and this fascination has not subsided. However, I am now applying this same curiosity and propensity for understanding to people’s financial lives. I love nothing more than sitting down with a new family and having the opportunity to review, or “rip apart” their portfolios and financial plans. I love to see how they work, and how they are serving and working for (or not working for) that family. I love being the one who gets to help them put it back together, running hopefully better and more efficient than before.
Driven Fiduciary, Why…?
From an extremely young age I, like many readers here, was taught that there was no substitution for hard work. When I would look around at all of the role models I had, the one common denominator was hard work. I was in my early teens when I decided that wealth management was the career path I wanted to take. I believe success is the intersection of preparation and opportunity. As the son of someone who had been in the industry for decades, I was used to sitting around the dinner table and hearing gripes about how wrong the industry had gotten it. I remember hearing about the conflicted interests, jargony pitches, and of too many individuals who just couldn’t get out of their own way. It was in these years that I developed the drive to become the best that I could be. Preparation began, and since then it has been my main focus to help build the wealth management firm of the future. Oh, and I also am a complete and total gearhead so driving happens to be one of my favorite hobbies.
I believe it is rare for an industry to have a single word that can so easily unveil the truth about those involved. As an advisor at Clearwater Capital Partners, we act as fiduciaries for our clients. Simply put, we have the affirmative legal obligation to put our client’s bests interests first when making every decision. Fiduciary was a word I took for granted until Sophomore year of college when I realized that it wasn’t as common as I had known it to be. I remember sitting in a lecture hall and actually hearing from a professor what an investment professional could do vs what they should do. I remember almost frantically looking around at my classmates as if to say, “is anybody hearing what this guy is saying?!.” Moment after moment I am presented with client cases where I review and uncover the work of their previous “advisor.” I get under the hood, I see how it works. Unfortunately we are usually uncovering high free products, misaligned portfolios, and financial “plans” that are nothing more than a big bound up book collecting dust. In other words, an engine running extremely poorly. Having the opportunity to fix someone’s financial situation, and getting them on the right track is why I do what I do.