“Saving money is painful, and I know of no game or mechanism that will entice people to change their personal habits other than knowledge and personal discipline,” John Essigman said. As the CEO of John Essigman Wealth Advisors, LLC, based in Cleveland, Georgia, the ability to save is a quality he looks for in potential clients. “I seek clients who are committed to actively participating in achieving their goals. This is evidenced by folks who have savings or are actively setting aside money for their own futures.”

When Essigman finds that attribute in a client, he is then in a position to offer that client unlimited access to a robust service providing guidance on taxation, business, investing, insurance, private debt, real estate and trusts.

Building a client’s financial literacy also plays an essential role in Essigman’s practice.

“Traditionally, it has not been taught in high schools or in post-secondary schools. Somehow we have lost the mentoring from parents to children,” Essigman laments, noting the incredibly low level of financial literacy he sees amongst incoming clients and Americans in general. This troubles him, because the national trend of drifting from one financial predicament to another seems to continue with little improvement in the debt-to-income ratio of far too many American families. “Our society has gone from Depression Era fears, lifetime employment and pensions to immediate gratification and consumerism while world economies are seeking equilibrium.”

He notes that residents of countries such as China and Pakistan continue to improve their standards of living, while the American experience remains on a decline.

While he couldn’t even hazard a guess as to how to change the national trend in America, he does know that working with one client at a time gives him the opportunity to effect change on an individual basis, which perhaps will contribute to a collective reversal of this troubling trend.

Essigman sees the federal move within the Dept. of Labor toward a uniform fiduciary standard of care requiring all financial advisors, whether commission-based or fee-based, to operate always and only in the best interest of the client, as a step forward. “I believe that any person or organization that handles money should be held to this standard,” Essigman said.

Not only does he know about high standards, but he also knows a thing or two about enduring temporary pain to produce more rewarding results. It took him some time to get his own career path settled and centered on financial advising.

After serving in the U.S. Marine Corps, Essigman graduated college and started his civilian life working as a business programmer/analyst in the manufacturing industry. In the 1980s and 1990s, he rode the boom of information technology revolutionizing manufacturing. But by 2004, changes within the industry created a dissatisfaction within Essigman that led both him and his wife, Glenda, to believe that the time had come for yet another career change. He went back to the early life lessons his father taught him: investing, saving and taxation minimization. His practice had humble beginnings as he worked prepping tax returns, selling insurance, and later earning his certifications and licensure for annuities and investments.

He admits that the transition from manufacturing to financial work was horrible. To make ends meet, Essigman worked at UPS from 3 a.m. to 8 a.m. before a full day of meeting with potential clients. During this time period, he learned, “You don’t fail until you give up – and we refused to quit.” This mantra serves him well now, as Essigman inspires his own clients to endure the temporary pain of learning to save.

“We just keep encouraging them to keep saving,” Essigman emphasized. “You don’t fail until you give up.”

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