Ask about the advisor’s experience working with people like you. In some cases, that might mean the advisor works with people who have had a low level of interest in finances — and a genuine interest in helping others less fortunate.
As part of our series about what one should look for when hiring a financial planner or adviser, I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Clure
Mark Clure, CFP®, is author of the best-selling book, True Wealth, The GUIDE Process for Finding and Financing Your Ideal Life. As a Principal at Enso Wealth Management, in Mt Shasta, California, Clure is passionate about helping clients with their financial goals and fulfilling their life’s purpose. He has 26 years financial industry experience and enjoys skiing, mountain biking and time with his family. For more information about True Wealth and the GUIDE Process, visit www.TrueWealthGuide.net.
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?
My interest in investing started when I was 12 years old. My Great Uncle’s brother passed away and I was hired to clean the house he was planning to sell. In his office I found decades worth of stock results hand written on long scrolls of paper. I still have them today. They were so fascinating to me that I took the money I made for cleaning the house and bought my very first stock. As the years went by, I continued investing through high school and college. I thought about going to work for a brokerage once I graduated, but instead accepted a position with the phone company.
A few years later I bought a small business and maintained an investment account with a firm located about a half an hour away. One day, the advisor from that firm came to my business. He told me that they were going to open an office in my town and wanted to know if I’d be interested in running it. So, we checked each other out, and a few months later I began my career as an advisor. Looking back, I’d say I was destined to be a financial advisor.
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?
I think we all have a story that’s pretty funny in hindsight, and I have a few. Here’s my favorite: As a new advisor with very few clients, my most important job was creating new clients. Knowing that a local businessman had recently sold one of his businesses for a substantial sum, I went by to talk to him about the impressive rates available on tax-free bonds.
I was excited by what appeared to be his complete lack of knowledge of tax-free investing and so I would go by to see him every few months with another great new bond that had become available. I went by so often that his wife contacted me and invested in a few bonds. It was a pity purchase. Frankly, I think she felt sorry for me. But that purchase really encouraged me, and I continued my regular visits. Several more months went by and out of nowhere the businessman walked into my office. He proceeded to buy several hundred thousand dollars worth of stocks. When we finished our business he told me, “I have no interest at all in your tax-free bonds. My daughter runs a bond company.”
The moral of the story is, it might have been a good idea to ask what he was interested in! I’ll point out that no financial professional was actually harmed in this story.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m so glad you asked. I recently finished a new book that just became a best-seller on Amazon. It’s called True Wealth, The GUIDE Process for Finding and Financing Your Ideal Life, and it’s a step-by-step guide to finding your life’s purpose and acting on it. I’m also working on building a network of advisors who will use my GUIDE Process to find their own purpose, then in turn, go on to help their clients uncover true purpose in their lives — and then help them figure out how to finance it. A Certified True Wealth Guide knows how to deepen their client relationships and make a significant impact on their lives.
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?
That’s an Interesting question. I think my “tipping point” came very early on in my career — almost at the very beginning — I was fortunate that way. It was late 1994, which had been a really tough period for stocks. Most “brokers” were not communicating with their clients; in fact, they were probably hiding under their desks. I realized that at the time, we had 8.75% Government Agency bonds at a discount. I found people to be very interested in those, and I got off to a very strong start. I think the best lesson I learned from that time is if you’re not talking to your clients…someone else probably is.
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?
Well, the most important thing I think you have to keep in mind is that you need to reinvent yourself and your practice about every 5 years or so. Otherwise, you can get complacent.A good number of people already find financial planning boring, and if you’re doing the same thing you did 10 or 20 years ago, you may find yourself phoning it in.
I suppose, the three best pieces of advice I could give are, first and foremost, you need to be a lifelong learner. Additionally, you must ask, listen and understand what’s important to your clients. And lastly, remember that it is vital that you self-evaluate on a regular basis.
As an example, I regularly update the questions I ask clients. A new favorite question of mine is this: Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t yet been able to accomplish? Nothing takes the boring out of financial planning like working on something that you’ve always wanted to do. It’s exciting! Don’t forget to have some fun while you’re at it.
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?
Sure. The dreaded loved-one-who-doesn’t-want-to-use-me-as-an-advisor question! I had given a lot of thought to how my wife would select an advisor if something happened to me before my daughter joined me in my practice. Here’s what I would wish for my wife (or anyone I loved), as well as the readers of this article:
1) Find somebody you connect with who will care about you personally and help you make smart decisions with money.
2) Look at experience and credentials as a basic qualifier.
3) Find an advisor who can articulate very clearly what it is they do — and what you might accomplish together.
4) Determine if they have a process and what the process is. It is really important to find out the advisor’s core beliefs and their investment philosophy, and to find an advisor with an optimistic view of the future. You don’t want somebody just winging it.
5) Ask about the advisor’s experience working with people like you. In some cases, that might mean the advisor works with people who have had a low level of interest in finances — and a genuine interest in helping others less fortunate.
5) Lastly, you should feel comfortable with their answers to two “why” question: Why do you do what you do? And why should I work with 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?
Yes, of course. I just checked my client list and Bill Gates and Warren Buffet aren’t on it, at least…not yet. I’ll start saying that most people would benefit from working with a financial advisor. Anyone who wants to send their kids or grandkids to college, buy their first home, retire, or simply live happily ever after can use a professionally-developed plan.
Back to your question-who would benefit most. First, I’d say people 5–7 years from retirement. I haven’t found many people who could answer the “how much money do you need to be able to retire” question. That seems like a good start. An advisor could help them with an investment plan, how to decide when to retire, how to protect assets, and possibly lower the tax bill.
I remember meeting with a retired couple who had never done a financial plan. After gathering their information, I put a plan together and called them back in to discuss it. I wasn’t sure how they would respond when I told them that one of them would need to go back to work. I held my breath as they looked at each other and then back at me. “We knew that,” they said. “We just needed somebody to tell us.” To their credit, the younger of the two returned to work for 4 years, they stuck to the plan we created, and now are comfortably retired.
One other situation where someone would greatly benefit is where there might be an influx f sudden money — that could mean an inheritance, a lump-sum distribution from a retirement plan or stock option exercise, sale of a business, divorce or even winning the lottery or a law suit settlement.
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?
I’ve probably had more than my fair share of help along the way. My parents and my wife have had a huge impact on my life. And there is no question that I wouldn’t be where I am without Christopher Lanzafame, Vice President of Capital Group. He introduced me to Enso Wealth Management, the company where I am a principal now. His research and teaching have pushed me to live a more impactful life. He has been the voice of reason when things seemed to be anything but reasonable.
I’ll also thank Kevin Eberle, Mark Christianson, Wann Robinson and John Beuerlein for help and inspiration along the way. They have made me a better person and better advisor.
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. 🙂
That is a great question. I actually DO want to start a movement. I want to fill the world with people who know their life’s purpose and to help them unlock their full potential. That’s exactly why I wrote my book, to offer an easy-to-follow process for someone to discover their purpose, to be able to articulate it, have the financial wherewithal to do it, and to then make a difference in the world by living it. Making a positive impact on other people’s lives — that’s what the world needs right now.
How can our readers follow you on social media?