Financial Literacy

Educated Clients make Prudent Decisions

Clients already possessing or currently seeking high rates of financial literacy are an advisor’s dream, according to Steve Sexton. They comprehend the basics of recommendations Sexton makes for growing their wealth. And they understand the value of professional guidance.

“At the end of the day, when somebody realizes the process they are currently utilizing is not working because they simply do not know what they do not know, they are certainly going to be looking to get educated. But as they get educated, they are also going to be looking for a relationship with an advisor,” Sexton said.

As president of Sexton Advisory Group in Riverside, San Diego and Temecula, Calif., he looks for clients who are passionate about living the lives their wealth accumulation can provide. “Of course,” he said, “a new client should come with enough assets for a profitable working relationship.” Yet Sexton insisted that “the numbers” aren’t the most important factor for him.

Looking toward the emotional side of the advisor relationship first, Sexton asks himself questions such as, “Does this client have specific action items in life that he or she looks forward to doing?” and “Do I, as the advisor, look forward to meeting with this client?”

“If I cannot look forward to seeing them, or if my staff cringes every time the person calls, obviously it's not a good fit for us,” Sexton said.

In some respects, he lives vicariously through his client’s adventures. He loves the fact that one of his clients has become a rose expert, now judging floral competitions in retirement, and that other clients are traveling the nation’s back roads and byways in their recreational vehicles provided by prudent planning.

Sexton's deep concern for client welfare began when he himself was in need of care.

In late 2002 and early 2003, Sexton found himself battling colon cancer. He had just left an eight-year stint with the Automobile Club of Southern California and knew he wanted to go into business for himself. His recovery time in the hospital gave him plenty of time for thought. And his mind was questioning whether his own financial and personal documents were in order.
“I realized that things such as my trust, my taxes and my general finances were all out of sorts, because none of my advisors for those things were actually talking to each other,” Sexton recalls.
As he recovered, Sexton began walking the hospital hallways for exercise. Others joined him. Fellow patients began sharing similar concerns and Sexton said he quickly realized that, simply because of this lack of coordination between advisors, money managers, accountants and attorneys, as he put it, “Money was just falling through the cracks in people’s financial lives.”

Sexton established Sexton Advisory Group in early 2003 with the intent of creating an ensemble firm chock full of experts who had the training, knowledge and experience to meet an array of financial concerns. He built the firm’s clientele by offering access to expert investment advisors, including those with significant experience in alternative investments, tax planners, estate attorneys and most recently, 1031 exchange advisors and realtors.

His clients, of course, are aging and approaching retirement.

Sexton brought in the 1031 experts specifically for what he calls, “the silver hair tsunami” of baby boomers turning 65 with family homes they want to sell as they downsize their independent domiciles or move to senior living centers.

“It is one of my major initiatives for 2015,” Sexton explained. “The baby boomers as a whole are a major section of the economy, and one that will influence the economy in terms of real estate sales and health care. Their homes are a gigantic asset that they have to deal with. They have to figure out how to sell while eliminating as much tax as possible so they can utilize the proceeds from the sale to finance the rest of their lives.”

Sexton also beefed up the firm’s tax planning division. With all of the changes implemented for 2015 as the 2014 tax year is processed, he believes additional expertise is the best way to guarantee that his clients’ best interest is maintained.

With all the expertise at his firm’s disposal, it might seem a bit easier to tone down the financial education of clients. But that isn’t going to happen under Sexton’s watch.

He recalls working with a partner who had no interest in educating clients. This individual’s sole desire in advising was to get clients hooked up with products and to earn his commissions. That approach just didn’t work for Sexton and that partnership soon ended.

Sexton knows that far too many people have no clue regarding the management of their financial lives. He knows that many just work at their jobs from 9 to 5 Monday through Friday and are too busy to even deal with the topic. Sexton said that these folks get to retirement age and feel like they always have a “financial monkey” on their backs because they are not prepared. This is the scenario he works hard to avoid with his clients. His goal, he related – and his greatest success – is in being able to educate a client the old-fashioned way. The client gets all the facts and all the information that is needed, enabling that client to make a prudent and informed decision.

“I have learned that helping people by educating people is the best way to conduct this business,” Sexton emphasized. “If you can focus on educating the people, the money for your paycheck will come. But you will have helped people and that is extremely satisfying.”

Learn more about Sexton Advisory Group online at www.sextonadvisorygroup.com

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