Just like with any relationship, the foundation is based on integrity. Your advisor must always have your best interest at heart. Look for someone with a fiduciary responsibility when managing your assets.
As part of our series about what one should look for when hiring a financial planner or adviser, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jonathan Wiley.
Jonathan Wiley is the Vice-President, Head of Investments at Arch Global Advisors and focuses on absolute return investment strategies for high net-worth individuals and their families. As a senior member of the advisory committee, Mr. Wiley assists in overseeing the strategic and tactical asset allocation decisions of each portfolio through changing market cycles. In addition, he is now spearheading the systematic integration of Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) factors into portfolio design.
Jonathan is a former academic All-American collegiate student-athlete, having completed his Bachelor’s degree with a double major in finance and management at Montana State University. In addition, Mr. Wiley holds a M.B.A. from the prestigious New York University Stern School of Business, with specializations in finance and entrepreneurship. Prior to joining Arch Global Advisors, he worked at National Securities as an Investment Advisor Representative for nearly 8 years.
Mr. Wiley currently holds a General Securities (Series 7) and a Uniform Combined State Law (Series 66) securities registration, and has passed the Branch Manager Supervisory exam for the National Futures Association (Series 30), as well as the National Commodities Futures exam (Series 3). In addition, he holds Life and Annuity Insurance licenses. Mr. Wiley is also a candidate for the CFP® (Certified Financial Planner™) exam.
Mr. Wiley is a member of the Financial Planning Association, as well as the Society of Financial Service Professionals. Jonathan resides in Greenwich, Connecticut and is an avid cook, sports fan, dog lover, and passionate world traveler.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to ‘get to know you’ a bit more. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Absolutely! I’ve always enjoyed problem-solving and see myself as a solution-oriented person. Plus, I enjoy interacting with people from all walks of life. So it seemed like a natural fit between my passions and what I thrive at that steered me towards wealth management.
Can you share a story about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting in the industry? Can you tell us what lesson or takeaway you learned from that?
On my very first day of work in the industry, I took the wrong train to the office. I was new to NYC, but that experience taught me the importance of planning ahead!
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I recently spearheaded the launch of an ESG program at our firm, for which I’m very proud. Over the last several years, I’ve noticed that clients have become increasingly socially aware and want their investments to align with their personal goals and beliefs. So we created a strategy allocation with these principles in mind to consider the “big picture” without sacrificing returns. We have been getting tremendous feedback so far. ESG investors are looking towards creating a better future, and my team and I will be part of that journey.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Is there a takeaway or lesson that others can learn from that?
I started to notice a dramatic increase in my advisory business once I started to develop a more entrepreneurial mindset, and while being almost maniacal about putting the success of my clients first. This is now the ethos of our firm. However, too few advisors in the industry are doing this. At first glance, this would seem like a paradox with conflicting goals, but they actually work in tandem. I strive to do everything possible to get myself and my clients on the same side of the table by being a solution-oriented practitioner rather than being forced to push only company-sponsored products. Many advisors are duty-bound to their company first because they are, in fact, employees; this structure ultimately hurts the client both with performance as well as cost. By being on an open architecture platform, I have a massive advantage in my arsenal compared to my competitors. It’s been an incredible journey helping my clients achieve their financial goals and enabling them to use their assets better.
What three pieces of advice would you give to your colleagues in the finance field to thrive and avoid burnout? Can you give a story or example?
Burnout is a common problem in the industry. I often see meteoric success that fades when people don’t find a healthy work/life balance. Hours in high-octane finance can often be brutal, so it’s essential to focus on incremental wins to have sustainability. I wish I could recommend “vacation a lot and completely unplug,” but I find that nearly impossible. You constantly need to be connected to the pulse to advise your clients and take advantage of market opportunities properly.
The first piece of advice I’d give to have longevity in the industry is not to do all the heavy-lifting yourself. We are a big proponent of the team approach. It provides us with an opportunity to collaborate when necessary, challenge viewpoints, and delegate responsibilities. When it comes to holistic financial planning, this is necessary, or one can get overwhelmed with all the complexities. It’s incredibly tough to be an expert in all disciplines.
The next suggestion is to find harmony between both your career and personal life since they are connected. It’s more than just having a balance. If you care about your clients and enjoy what you do, it feeds your spirit. But, if you are spending 120 hours a week working, the wheels will eventually come off. If you plan on managing your clients’ wealth for decades (and see it pass on to the next generation), running at a breakneck pace is a recipe for failure.
The last piece of advice I have is to change your environment. While the culture of an office setting is tough to replicate on daily Zoom calls, I’ve noticed that working from home or even in a more rural location, like when I’m visiting clients outside of NYC, allows me to think creatively and to look at problems and opportunities from a different perspective. The more you can fill your day with joy and give yourself time to reflect, the better advisor you’ll be.
Ok. Thank you for all of that. Let’s now move to the core focus of our interview. As an “finance insider”, you know much more about the finance industry than most consumers. If your loved one wanted to hire a financial advisor (not you :-)), which 5 things would you advise them to find out about before committing? Can you give an example or story for each?
There are many qualities that one should look for when deciding to hire a financial advisor. I’ll list my top 5 that one shouldn’t compromise on.
- The first is trust. Just like with any relationship, the foundation is based on integrity. Your advisor must always have your best interest at heart. Look for someone with a fiduciary responsibility when managing your assets.
- Next is communication, which comes in many forms. But in my experience, it starts with being a good listener and really taking the time to understand your potential client’s problems and not just pitching products. That’s a red flag.
- Also, having personalized services is important. Your clients want to leave the first meeting knowing they are getting a solution tailored specifically to their needs, rather than being force fed cookie-cutter financial advice. We spend a lot of time in the discovery phase, doing a deep dive, to thoroughly understand the client’s challenges before any recommendations are provided. Falling under the service umbrella, accessibility to your advisor can’t be overlooked either. If your advisor only contacts you once a year for an annual review, that’s a problem.
- In addition, applicable expertise and industry knowledge are crucial. As an advisor, it’s essential to spread your knowledge, educate your clients, and share new ideas based on market circumstances. This separates the active money managers from the robotic advisors who are behind on the trends.
- Finally, performance and a demonstrable track record are necessary. Expectations should always be discussed, and those goals should be matched up against market returns. It’s important to scrutinize performance in the short term, but your advisor should also be held accountable for years of underperformance. In the end, you need your money to work for you.
I think most people think that financial advisors are for very wealthy people. This is likely not actually true. Can you explain who would most benefit from hiring a financial advisor and why? Can you give an example?
Most investors are likely to benefit from working with professional money managers. In fact, I could argue that clients who wouldn’t necessarily fall into the ‘wealthy’ category need it more because their margin of error is much smaller than someone who has an abundance of wealth. While wealthier clients often have unique estate planning needs and more disposable income to invest, the value of investing even a small amount in your 20’s (when very few people have come into wealth yet) has incredible compounding effects over decades when it comes time to retire. There are solutions available for everyone.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Without hesitation, my two partners at Arch Global, Sheraz and Akhil. We’ve built an incredible platform together, but their guidance has been instrumental in helping me take things to the next level, specifically in regards to transitioning to becoming a fee-based advisor, as well as building out our proprietary Asset Track Program.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I believe that the same access to the financial markets should be available to all. This is often lacking when people think of ‘Wall Street,’ as it’s far from democratized. Our take on wealth management is both approachable, as well as transparent. As a firm, we aim to bring institutional-like money management, which previously was only reserved for large endowments or pension funds, to retail investors. We have the technology and capability to do that now.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Great question; I’ve been quite active on LinkedIn as of late. I enjoy connecting with readers and investors looking for better financial outcomes for themselves and their families.
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.