The first thing you should look to do is get the fundamentals right. Look for an advisor who works with a major third-party custodian, meaning that a large firm like Schwab, Fidelity, or Vanguard is actually holding your money, and your advisor is simply managing that money. This protects you from potential theft and fraud. In addition to the third-party custodian, you want to make sure your firm has considerable tenure and depth. You want to know that, if something happens to your advisor, your relationship with the firm and your assets are protected.
As part of our series about what one should look for when hiring a financial planner or adviser, I had the pleasure of interviewing Wes Moss.
Wes Moss is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, managing partner and chief investment strategist at Capital Investment Advisors, an Atlanta-based RIA with 2.8 Billion dollars in assets under management. Additionally, Moss is the host of Money Matters, a weekly call-in financial show on 95.5 WSB — Atlanta’s News and Talk. Moss is also the author of three books, including You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think; serves as financial columnist for the Atlanta Journal Constitution; acts as editor of WesMoss.com; and is a frequent resource for journalists across all mediums — print, tv, radio, and online. Barron’s has named Moss one of America’s top 1,200 Financial Advisors every year since 2014 and was ranked #53 on the top 100 independent advisors list by Barron’s in 2020.https://content.thriveglobal.com/media/29d869d135c868688c46c14157e44238
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 dad was a large animal vet, so I spent a majority of my childhood doing chores like mucking out stalls. I knew very early on that wasn’t the career for me. One day, around the age of twelve, I picked up the Wall Street Journal, and I was hooked. I never considered a career other than finance.
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 had the very unique and unexpected experience of being on The Apprentice in 2004. I was pretty self-assured and made it pretty far into the show when I was fired by Donald Trump. It’s pretty embarrassing to have your first real business failure take place on national television, but I learned so much about the media from that experience. I will never regret my time spent on that show.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
I’m actually working on a new book that should be released in 2021. I’ve always been fascinated by the habits of happy people, and especially happy retirees. In this book, I am basically reverse engineering the money habits of happy retirees, and highlighting what those folks do versus what unhappy retirees’ behaviors are. In this book, I will also share updated information of my proprietary research on money and happiness levels.
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?
The first tipping point would be when I made the move to an RIA. I started my career with a large financial organization, but I looked for the right opportunity to be independent for some time. When I met the team I work with now, I knew it was my chance to join an independent practice with a solid foundation and help them grow. The second tipping point was undeniably when I published my best-selling book, You Can Retire Sooner Than You Think. The book’s focus on the money practices and behavioral habits of people who identified themselves as “happy” retirees was so revolutionary that people started seeking out our firm to help them achieve happiness. The book continues to bring people to work with us.
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?
It’s not really three pieces of advice, but my best tip is that If you can’t see yourself doing something without reservation for the next 20 years, it’s the wrong environment. Not necessarily the wrong career, but certainly the wrong environment.
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?
1. The first thing you should look to do is get the fundamentals right. Look for an advisor who works with a major third-party custodian, meaning that a large firm like Schwab, Fidelity, or Vanguard is actually holding your money, and your advisor is simply managing that money. This protects you from potential theft and fraud. In addition to the third-party custodian, you want to make sure your firm has considerable tenure and depth. You want to know that, if something happens to your advisor, your relationship with the firm and your assets are protected.
2. The second thing to consider is finding an advisor that is objective vs. an advisor who relies on commissions from product sales. A considerable number of advisors receive commissions based on the products they sell to their clients, including mutual funds, annuities, insurance, etc. In my opinion, this is a conflict of interests. I always recommend you find a fee-only financial advisor who is compensated the same no matter what investment vehicles they use for your money. Because they are not reliant on selling you products in order to make money, they can offer more objective advice.
3. The third thing you should know before choosing a financial advisor is what the overall philosophy of the firm is. What is their guiding light? What does that firm care about, and what client base do they cater to? You want to make sure that you feel comfortable with the overall philosophy of the firm, that you feel the firm is a fit for your specific needs, and that you are happy with the way the firm treats their clients.
4. The fourth thing to consider when choosing a financial firm is that firm’s unique value proposition when it comes to investments. How does your firm or advisor invest? There are so many styles of investing out there, so it’s important that an advisor can explain their specific investment philosophy to you and that your interests are aligned with that philosophy.
5. The fifth thing to look for when choosing a financial advisor is the potential for a long-term working relationship. Your advisor needs to be someone you trust and feel comfortable discussing personal details with from year to year. Money and investing are emotional, and you need to feel that your advisor is in your corner. They should become your financial life coach, helping you stay on track to leverage your income to accomplish your short and long-term goals. This kind of relationship is intimate and important, so look for someone who really understands your needs and makes you feel heard and empowered.
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?
The people that my team works with the most tend to be the millionaire-next-door. They’re typically folks with 500,000 dollars or more in investable assets who’ve worked a long time and have been diligent in saving for retirement. While this amount is certainly nothing to sneeze at, these also aren’t people who were handed their wealth or who are flying private jets around the world. I’ve found this group of people are typically great at budgeting, saving and planning, but they benefit from having a professional in their corner when it comes to investing. Managing retirement investments can be tricky with creating a consistent stream of income from your portfolio, handling RMDs, and even determining the most tax advantaged way to withdraw from your accounts. These are a few of the reasons that we tend to see families seek us out for help. My favorite example of a family benefiting from working with a financial advisor is who I call “Round the World Robyn.” Robyn and her husband fit into this mold of the millionaire-next-door, and after a lifetime of diligent saving and planning she and her husband had retired. Robyn wanted to pursue her passion for travel and found an African Safari for her whole family and a National Geographic Trip Around the World for just her and her husband. She asked me, “Wes, can I afford to take these trips without putting my retirement in jeopardy?” I was happy to let her know that based on my calculations of her finances, she needed to pack her bags and hit the road! Having an external and non-partial party to confirm and balance your financial decisions can empower you to make better decisions.
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?
Over a dozen years ago, my original business partner, Mike Reiner, helped instill in me the conviction to be a better business owner. I’ve learned from his actions through the years of constantly asking more of myself and our team to constantly seek to be better. It’s been inspiring to see how we’ve all risen to the occasion. Many years ago, he put a goal on the table of having our team hit what I thought at the time was a nearly impossible number of assets under management for our firm. He promised if we hit it that the entire team would take a long weekend trip down to Long Boat Key in Florida. I signed off on this goal for the team assuming it’d take years upon years to hit. Low and behold, our team outdid themselves, and we were in Long Boat Key not two years after that.
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 truly believe that every person should spend a year as an entrepreneur. I think the struggle of owning and running your own business teaches you lessons that nothing else could. So, if I could start a movement, I think that would be it. I’d encourage everyone that could to attempt to work for him or herself for one year to experience what those wins and losses actually feel like when your livelihood is on the line. There would be a lot less taken for granted in our working world, and the creativity this movement could spark would be world-altering.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Readers can find me on Facebook at @wesmossmoneymatters, on Twitter at @WesMoss365, on Instagram at @WesMossMoneyMatters, and online at WesMoss.com.
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational.