An Interview With James Crosson About the Business of Financial Advising, Helping People Reach Their Goals For Retirement, and the Importance of a Personal Touch

James Crosson is a registered representative at Lincoln Financial Securities Corp., Member SIPC located at 809 Aquidneck Avenue, Middletown, Rhode Island. He is a veteran in the financial services industry with more than 30 years of experience. Jim is a graduate of Roger Williams University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and a […]

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James Crosson is a registered representative at Lincoln Financial Securities Corp., Member SIPC located at 809 Aquidneck Avenue, Middletown, Rhode Island. He is a veteran in the financial services industry with more than 30 years of experience. Jim is a graduate of Roger Williams University with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management and a minor in Economics and Finance.

After graduating, he spent 9 years working at a private investment firm before striking out on his own to found his own financial practice.  Through approximately that same period of time, Jim spent nearly 15 years teaching investment courses at the University of Massachusetts, Bristol Community College, and Bridgewater State College. He believed then, as he believes now, that financial literacy is critical in everyone’s life journey, especially when it comes to planning for their retirement years. In 2001, he was forced to stop teaching due to the increasing demands of his burgeoning company.

Jim spends most of his work days planning retirement and tax strategies for his firm’s long list of clients. In addition to that, he takes care to engage with them in a meaningful manner, as he feels it is an important part of his role as a financial advisor—not to mention the fact that he is genuinely interested in their lives. In the past, James Crosson has served as a board member of the Gabelli School of Business at Roger Williams University and also as a board member of Investors Capital Corporation, which was a publicly traded company. He has, on occasion, made contributions to publications such as The Wall Street Journal and The Financial Times. James Crosson was born in New Bedford, Massachusetts, and currently resides in Portsmouth, RI.

www.jamescrosson.com

Why did you decide to create your own business?

While attending college, I realized that higher education prepared you to obtain a job but did not teach you on what to do with or how to manage the money you earn from that job. This is a most important detail in life and it gave me the idea that I wanted to pursue a career as a financial advisor.

What do you love most about the industry you are in?

I really love helping people reach their goals and become financially independent.

What does a typical day consist of for you?

On a normal basis, my day consists of staying in contact with my clients and answering any questions they might have on a variety of topics.

What keeps you motivated?

Watching the success of my clients over multiple generations has always motivated me. 

How do you motivate others?

I motivate others by leading by example and being open to and discussing new ideas.

How has your company grown from its early days to now?

Earlier in my career, I used to teach non credit courses at three local colleges, but now I have grown to the point that our focus is on our clients and the referrals we receive from them.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I am inspired by watching people accomplish their financial goals.

Who has been a role model to you and why?

My grandfather owned and operated a dry goods store. Watching him help and interact with his customers inspired me to get into the business of helping people. 

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

I make sure to take time out to recharge when needed. I learned this from looking at some of my clients, who I encourage to start using some of their money because they’re not going to be around forever. I tell them to go on vacations and do fun things because a lot of people get caught up in a loop of accumulating and then sitting on it. It’s like there has to be a switch flipped in their head to go from accumulating savings to enjoying the payout part of it. And a lot of my clients have a very difficult time doing that, so I kind of almost get mad at them, to be honest.

What traits do you possess that make a successful leader?

I am very approachable. I can also discuss investments in plain English, which is something not everyone in my industry can do.

What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?

Realize that this business is not for everyone. There is no timecard to punch when you work for yourself.  Also, this business is constantly changing and it is crucial to keep up to date on those changes.

What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?

It is a considerable challenge to replace retired clients’ working income with investment income.  

What is one piece of advice that you have never forgotten?

Always return calls from clients in a timely manner.

What is your biggest accomplishment?

I think the accomplishment of which I am most proud was being on the board of directors of a publicly traded company. We were able to build revenues based on my ideas up from about $70 million to $100 million in a matter of three years. I taught all the brokers how to run their business in a proper manner organizationally and pay attention to the various details of their business. A lot of them followed my advice and, amazingly, they did much better. The company did so well that it was taken over and, of course, I had some shares in it and a lot of my brokers had shares in it, too. We all made money by doing that. They don’t throw just anybody on the board of directors of a publicly traded company, especially an investment firm. It means they think you really know your stuff. That was a big deal for me.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?

Keep an open mind and realize that you do not know everything and you can learn a lot from others. 

What is the biggest life lesson you have learned?

Your time is your most valuable asset. Use it wisely.

Outside of work, what defines you as a person?

I enjoy traveling and learning new things, so I can be more educated to help my clients through my experiences. 

What trends in your industry excite you?

The technological advance of information now available, which was not available in prior years, really does excite me.

Where do you see you and your company in 5 years?

Most advisors want to grow their business substantially from where they are at the moment. I, on the other hand, want to make sure that we grow while still being able to provide the same personal touch when it comes to taking care of clients’ needs. 

Explain the proudest day of your professional life.

I would say leaving the investment firm where I started and then opening my own business was my proudest day. I had been there for nine years and learned a lot during that time. I was ready to take what I had learned and put it into my own business, create my own opportunity, and I pulled it off.

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