The Importance of a Strong Team In Volatile Times, Takes a Village

With equity indices like the Dow, S&P 500 and NASDAQ consistently hitting new peaks, market volatility is more intense than ever, driven by a barrage of breaking news events, tweets and pandemic-related developments. Some investors and financial planners are okay with that, others prefer a more even keel.

Navigating turbulent waters is safer with a seasoned crew. And having an experienced, dedicated team of financial service professionals can provide some calm during unstable times.
The team-centric approach of Tennessee-based Southwestern Investment Group helps clients navigate retirement needs no matter the market conditions. The corporation works mostly with a select group of clients. Some clients have made strong investments resulting in more assets and more cash, and understand the risks when markets fall – so they don’t need excessive annual increases in returns.

“For some of these clients, we were able to take a much more defensive approach and that helped make life better for them over the last six to eight months by taking some risk out,” Jeffrey T. Dobyns, president Southwestern Investment Group, CFP®, said in a recent Advisors Magazine interview.

Dobyns2 400x500“Other clients felt comfortable with the volatility and invested more money while the prices were lower,” Dobyns added. “And we did a lot of tax harvesting and were wise with tax planning. Even during the virus and the market collapse we were able to really save clients significant money from an income tax perspective.”

Dobyns started Southwestern Investment Group in 2002 and the company now has 140 employees across 11 states. Raymond James is its broker-dealer, holding clients’ assets and providing support with reporting, statements, a trading platform, investment analysis, and more resources. Another extended team participant is Dave Ramsey; Southwestern Investment Group has been associated with his SmartVestor program for 17 years.

“We have a strong team of advisors and an excellent support staff –really sharp people,” Dobyns emphasized. “We’ve found, even people that are really involved in the financial markets, they just really love having a family-type of practice that can handle and help with everything from retirement planning to taxes and analyzing the impact to their investments.”
In addition to serving as company president, Dobyns services several clients with his own eight-person team, the Dobyns Wealth Team, that includes three CFP professionals, Drew McMillin, Josh McCoy, and Mandy Brooke, with whom he works directly.

Some of the clients have MBAs from Harvard, some are retired CEOs of big corporations, others are small business owners that never really invested in equity markets until they sold their own businesses.

“It’s fun to work with a wide range of people from different backgrounds, but there is also some commonality among those folks,” Dobyns remarked. “Everyone wants to have a trusted resource, a trusted companion to bounce ideas off of and to the extent they’re comfortable, we work really hard to take on a lot of the heavy lifting.”

Such lifting means doing a lot of comprehensive planning – everything from investments and taxes to estate planning – including a sharp focus on charitable planning and how to do that effectively. Also critical: assuring that a client’s investments align with their goals and reflect their risk tolerance, allowing for enough emergency cash, and having minimal to no debt so that clients are not in a position to need substantial income.

“Technology has made this all somewhat easier with people able to access educational tools, and guiding clients through these difficult markets that we’re in right now is always important,” Dobyns added. “And I think that requires a human being that has a lot of experience, who’s passionate about this business.”

To Dobyns, being a good steward simply means doing the right thing and avoiding some don’ts. Don’t sell proprietary products, don’t waste resources or money, don’t take on additional risk. Be responsible for actions and recommendations. Follow up with and serve clients.

That devotion to stewardship was reflected by the firm’s pre-pandemic preparation, Dobyns pointed out. And now he’s excited about the fact that clients were well-positioned beforehand because markets have rebounded and all-time highs are being charted.

“We knew that there would be dark clouds,” he stated. “We didn’t think that it was going to be COVID, obviously, but there are always disruptions and challenges at times in the economy – that never stops.”

The pre-pandemic process involved educating clients that there can indeed be investing pitfalls.

dobyns quote
“Our team was really well prepared and I’m very proud of all the effort, time and energy they put in,” he said. “All resources were used to help the clients; we encouraged them to back off the cliff and not jump – and thankfully that has worked really well with the markets rebounding significantly. As a result, we believe we are positioned to do well regardless of what comes down the pike.”

Nonetheless, only 30 percent of Americans have a long-term financial plan, according to research conducted by Gallup. So, Dobyns maintains it is important to help people understand that equity investment has historically been critical to achieving long-term success and adequate resources for retirement. After all, you can’t go back in time.

“Folks 20 years ago could have had a million dollars in bank savings or CDs and generated maybe $80,000 a year in income,” Dobyns said. “But those same people today need $8,000,000 to generate the same amount of income given the low interest rate environment that we’re in.”

Southwestern Investment Group goes into the financial planning process asking where a client is now, where does that client want or need to be, and how do they get there – not only in the next 10-15 years, but well into a client’s 90s, as is more typical nowadays.

For more information about Southwestern Investment Group and the Dobyns Wealth Team, visit:

Any opinions are those of Dobyns Wealth Team and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. The information contained in this report does not purport to be a complete description of the securities, markets, or developments referred to in this material. There is no assurance any of the trends mentioned will continue or forecasts will occur. The information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but Raymond James does not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Past performance does not guarantee future results. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected. Raymond James and its advisors do not offer tax or legal advice. You should discuss any tax or legal matters with the appropriate professional. SmartVestor is an advertising and referral service for investing professionals (“SmartVestor Pros”) operated by The Lampo Group, LLC d/b/a Ramsey Solutions (“Ramsey Solutions”). Pursuant to an arrangement between Ramsey Solutions, Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. (“RJFSA”) and your advisor, your advisor pays Ramsey Solutions a flat monthly fee to: (a) be a SmartVestor Pro, (b) advertise services through the SmartVestor website, and (c) receive client referrals in the form of an initial introduction to interested consumers who are located in your advisor's Pros geographic region. RJFSA and its affiliates (collectively, “Raymond James”) do not endorse and are not affiliated with Ramsey Solutions, except with respect to the arrangement described above, and neither Ramsey Solutions nor its agents are officers or employees of Raymond James. Further, neither Ramsey Solutions nor its agents are authorized to provide investment advice or act in any way on behalf of Raymond James, except in connection with providing your contact information to your advisor.


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