Schedule a MeetingWhat is important to me? What is important to me is my wife, my daughters and our family. When I wake up in the morning and my legs are still touching my wife, I know that my life is right… I still want to be near her. When my door cracks and one of my daughters’ first peeks in then comes running to our bed so she can snuggle with us, I know that I am blessed. When I get home at night and my dogs are the first to greet me, I know that if everything goes away, I am still loved. Or when my friends call up and ask if I want to go to a game and my wife says, “have fun,”- I know that there is balance in my life.
None of this comes easily. When I set my goals, these are the things that are uppermost in my mind. And without planning, I cannot reach the goals that give my life balance and happiness.
Like many I put in fair portion of hours to work… unlike many, I am fortunate to go to work every day helping my clients meet their goals and putting together a financial plan that makes those goals attainable. And to do that, I have to ask them, what is important to you? Where/when does life become filled with meaning and excitement? For many clients this is a tough question. in the middle of college, kids, house buying, careers’, etc. life can seem to take over and slowly, as if a boa constrictor is quietly wrapping its body around you- you feel the life being squeezed out of you. But this is where financial planning starts; with the tough questions about what is important in life.
My practice is centered around knowing what is important to YOU. Where you feel fullfilment and where what you are doing is adding value to your life and the others in your life who are important to you. A client recently said to me, “Mike I just don’t want to leave this world having used the air.” Wouldn’t be great if we all took this attitude?
If any of this resonates with you, then we likely are a good fit.
I first started to learn about finances 30 years ago ( I was 12). My dad took a course on stocks, so I learned from that how to track stocks/companies much like kids my age would track their favorite athlete or team. My only guess for this interest is that I come from 4 generations of entrepreneurs, and I am pretty sure my older daughter will fall into this long line as well.
While I was raised in middle income house, I knew the value of a dollar early on. I worked after school starting at the age of 13 and saved enough to go on a class trip to Europe (completely funded by my work and the time I gave up spending with my friends). And when it was time for college, I paid for it with a mix of grants, loans and the dollars I earned then. Like many, the degree in Finance (with a minor in Economics) and my MBA (in Global Business Management) was the result of hard work.
For most of us, the path to our passion is, not clear, nor straight. How true that was for me. Having come out of college right at the infancy of the dot-com era 1996, I was focused on making my way in the corporate world by selling software. And when my wife had the opportunity to work in New York, I jumped at the opportunity. There I found my first software sales job; it was me, the owner and a part-time inside salesperson. That first job was an education, like a whole additional MBA (which, by-the-way, I actually earned during that time). I learned that the word “no” was just and opportunity to find a “yes”, but it took me 9 months and hundreds of calls to Fortune 100 and Fortune 500 companies to get our first sale. From there I went on to two more software companies, with the last one being bought 3 months after I joined the company. It was a whirl wind of learning; new products, new sales techniques; finding ways to open doors, and finding the right pricing model to for the customer. But I loved every minute of it.
As the year 2000 came to a close, and the last company’s purchase went through, I realized that I would have to find a new career. The dotcoms were going dot bust. And the opportunities seemed few and far between. It was then that my wife and my financial advisor (Robert Walsh) mentioned that he thought I would be a great advisor. To be honest, I had my doubts. After all, we all know that person who hangs out their shingle as a “financial advisor.” I didn’t want to be “one of those guys.” Robert had done a great job for us, – recommending that we get out of our stock options, saving us a boat load in taxes, and helping us develop our 5 year plan.
After much thought, I decided to take on a few clients that Robert and I could work on together. The first few client meetings went well and I started to really enjoy both the process of helping people get their financial lives in order, and helping them see their life from a different perspective.
My wife and I moved back to California 3 months after the terrible events of 9-11, It was a move that came one year earlier than we had thought, but 91 helped us to see that it was time be back near our family, and time to start out on our own. So after working with Robert for more than a year, I developed my own practice in California.
Since then, I have become a long-standing member of NAPFA (National Association of Personal Financial Advisors) the founders of Fee-Only and an association that promotes the ideal of the client, not the company to always be put first, and The Alliance of Cambridge Advisors, a collegiate group of advisors whose members hold more advanced degrees than any other financial association.
Today I help broad mix of people reach their goals: from doctors and nurses to teachers and principals; from newlyweds in their early thirties to those that have been retired for years. For a long time I had a hard time defining my ideal client. Then, recently, a partner of mine said, “Mike, all of your clients are good people. They really are, they are nice… they are just the type of people you want to work with.” Well that is my client base, smart, nice, people looking for their lives to be even better. Some have millions, other are just starting with their first dollar. For them, I am the kind advisor who will spend the time to get to know them, what is important to them, and be with them through their journey.
As you can see, my planning style can be summed up as frank, honest and passionate. When my colleagues describe me, they tell me that I have a great ability to see 5 years down the road and work that back to what needs to be done today, for my clients, and to help them get there. While much of what I have learned has come from my schooling, I do believe that there are those things that we are just born to do. And if you happen to be lucky enough to be able to do that as your career, those that work with you can reap great benefits.
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