You recently received the Five Star Wealth Management Award, congratulations! Can you tell us more about it?
The Five Star Wealth Management Award is awarded in multiple cities around the country, and a list of awardees is featured in local publications depending on region. To the best of my knowledge, there are 9 or 10 individual criteria that are used to determine the candidate pool including licensure, length of service in the industry, community involvement and compliance and regulatory background checks.
What do you like about your work as a financial advisor?
I consider myself incredibly fortunate to have found this career path. As a Financial Advisor I have the opportunity to use my quantitative skills to help people. My clients are typically concerned about their future retirement plans, tax-advantaged investment growth or leaving assets to their heirs in a tax-efficient manner. I am in the unique position to help them construct their tailored financial plan, while coordinating their investments in a manner which allows their plan to be executed. So there is a lot of interpersonal connectivity coupled with analytics, which allows me to play to my strengths.
How did you decide on your career path?
It actually started at an earlier age for me. I was about 14 or 15 years old and I always read the business section of The Washington Post out of habit. One day my father asked me to pick a stock; he would invest money in it but I had to give him an explanation why. I chose Lockheed Martin at around $20 a share because I saw that it was at a 52-week low and was still paying a high-dividend. Lockheed Martin sky-rocketed to $40 a share within months, and my father paid for my car with the proceeds. That’s all it took for me…
What is the most valuable piece of career advice that has been a guide for you?
This career has exposed me to some highly successful people. The advice that I have received the most often, and the thing I respect most about these people, is they all give back to their communities. In fact, giving is more important than getting. Donating time and energy is more valuable than donating money, so anyone can do it. And if you can find a non-profit or an organization that you are passionate about, or you can actively help bring someone up to the next level, you will probably make some great connections in the process. Everything you do should be about something larger than yourself.
What is one piece of advice you would give someone entering your field?
Don’t try to reinvent the wheel. I’ve seen new wealth managers start their career and fizzle out because they try to build a better mouse trap for investment models or marketing. The old methods are tried and true and they work; you can always tweak your system as you gain more experience but you need the experience first. Be prepared to work really hard. This job is difficult, and it’s not for everyone. You will have to read research every morning and stay current on the markets. You need to love working with people and have an affinity for long hours. This is a career that requires a lot of effort and time during the first few years, but if you can make it to the other side, the rewards are amazing.
How do you keep up with the market, trends, and news?
My firm, Morgan Stanley, is a leader in research so I have access to a library of reports and analyses on a daily basis, which is on top of reading The Wall Street Journal and additional publications. When possible, I try to read research reports from other firms as well since I think it gives me a more robust view of the markets. Since we manage large portfolios, we are fortunate enough to meet with portfolio managers of various mutual funds and hedge funds, so we get to take an inside peek at the thought processes of some truly brilliant people.
Why are you pursuing an MBA at Johns Hopkins Carey Business School?
My business partner has an MBA, and so I asked him how necessary it was to have this degree as a Financial Advisor. His response was that it was not necessary at all, and there are many successful advisors in this industry that don’t have their MBA. However, if you want to work with ultra-high net worth clients such as doctors, lawyers, CEOs and CFOs who all have their advanced degrees, then an MBA gives you the right to stand in front of those clients and compete on a level that other advisors simply can’t.
I applied to the Carey Business School for my Flex MBA the very next day.