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“Too many of us get so self-involved that we forget we are all here to learn and grow together”

With Gage Kemsley, of Oxford Wealth Advisors



I recently read an old proverb that said “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they will never sit.” I think everyone should be focused on helping a neighbor, friend or stranger. Too many of us get so self-involved that we forget we are all here to learn and grow together, and that is best done by helping each other. Instead of asking, “What’s in it for me?” we should be asking, “How will this help those around me?” Look at making your community a better place. Find opportunities to serve others. The world will be a better place because of those small actions and you will feel better about the world knowing you’ve done something to help.


As part of my series about the “5 Things You Should Ask Before You Purchase a Life Insurance Policy” I had the pleasure to interview Gage Kemsley. Gage is the vice president of Oxford Wealth Advisors in Rio Rancho, NM. Since 2013, Gage has been dedicated to helping individuals and families plan for retirement. Gage is an investment advisor representative and holds his Life and Health Insurance license in the State of New Mexico.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have always been fascinated with the world of finance. In high school, I had a teacher — Michael Treadway. We were studying calculus and trigonometry, but we always took the last few minutes of class to look at something “real world,” whether it was stock valuations or bond premium calculation or determining bond premium. From that point, I decided I wanted to do something in the financial industry, so I started in banking and moved to personal finance. I have always felt I needed to be the best resource I can be, so I decided to study finance for my undergraduate and graduate work, and have worked on understanding as much as I can on the job.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting in the industry? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Coming from the banking world meant I came with a different mindset. For about six months when I started in this industry, I would mistakenly refer to Exchange Traded Funds (ETF) as EFT’s, like the debit transfers. I did this for weeks and would usually catch myself, but one time I said EFT and a client immediately corrected me. I was so embarrassed, but I had to laugh at myself and my silly mistake. It doesn’t matter what mistakes you make, make sure you learn from them and make sure that you have enough self-confidence to laugh at yourself. You become more relatable to your clients and despite mistakes, laughter can bolster confidence.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

Right now, we are working on opening up a branch office in Austin, Texas. This has been incredibly exciting, but very stressful. We offer a service and have a staff that is very appealing to retirement focused investors, and while we have clients all over the country, our main focus has been in New Mexico. After lots of research and discussion, we have decided to move forward in this new location and we are excited to be able to help the people of Austin.

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 lessons that others can learn from that?

Our office and practice has grown significantly over the last five or six years and we attribute that to implementation of procedures and processes. Once we started focusing on what we do best and stopped with the stuff we don’t do best, we started seeing phenomenal growth. Now, we have a replicable procedure — something that true to us, true to our clients, and something that will allow us to continue to grow.

What advice would you give to other people in the insurance field to thrive and avoid burnout?

Set boundaries. Get an office and require clients and prospects to come to you. It’s a leap of faith, but define where you want to be in 12 months, five years and 25 years, then start doing things to get there. Keep looking forward and don’t lose sight of those goals. When you close a big case, celebrate.

As an “insurance insider”, you know much more about insurance than most consumers. If your loved one wanted to buy a policy from another person, which 5 things would you advise them to find out about before committing to a policy? Can you give an example or story for each?

  • Make sure you know why you are getting the insurance. Have a specific purpose in mind, like the policy you’re considering will pay off the mortgage for your spouse or will be used for legacy planning for a charity.
  • Once you know what it is you are trying to accomplish, make sure that you have the correct kind of policy and coverage amounts. Debt should be covered through a term policy, whereas legacy planning should have some kind of permanent coverage. 
  • Make sure that you can afford the premium. There’s nothing worse than paying for a policy for one year, then have it lapse the next because you couldn’t pay the premiums anymore. 
  • Also, make sure you meet with your agent frequently, at least once a year to make sure your policy is doing what it should. I’ve seen way too many life insurance policies collapse because nobody was paying attention to them.
  •  Just like anything else in one’s financial life, life insurance should be reviewed and adjusted.

Insurance agencies or companies are often known to be very creative and innovative marketers. Do you use any clever and innovative marketing strategies that you think large legacy companies should consider adopting?

Yes! One thing we’ve been doing for a few years now is celebrating our clients. For example, we order pies every year for our clients for Thanksgiving. We have given thousands of pies to our clients over the years and love that we are a part of their Thanksgiving tradition. We play Bingo with clients; we throw parties for clients. Any time we can celebrate with clients, we do. When you cherish your clients and give out good, good always comes back.

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’d have to say my biggest mentor, especially regarding my current career, would be the owner of our firm, Lynn Thurgood. When I started in the business, Lynn took the time to really train me. I went everywhere he did. We prepped files together and developed cases together. When a client needed help with something, Lynn always saw that as a learning opportunity for me. We frequently would discuss our procedures, looking for any way we could improve. Lynn was always willing to listen to me and my ideas and really pushed me to become what I am now.

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 recently read an old proverb that said “A society grows great when old men plant trees in whose shade they will never sit.” I think everyone should be focused on helping a neighbor, friend or stranger. Too many of us get so self-involved that we forget we are all here to learn and grow together, and that is best done by helping each other. Instead of asking, “What’s in it for me?” we should be asking, “How will this help those around me?” Look at making your community a better place. Find opportunities to serve others. The world will be a better place because of those small actions and you will feel better about the world knowing you’ve done something to help.

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