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“You need to know what you want.”, with Brian Loy and Tyler Gallagher

Having a bunch of money is a good reason to seek financial advice, but it’s not the only one. Unless you can afford to live off Social Security alone in retirement, or plan on a large inheritance, then you need to save and invest. Everyone benefits from hiring a financial advisor, from young people or […]

Having a bunch of money is a good reason to seek financial advice, but it’s not the only one. Unless you can afford to live off Social Security alone in retirement, or plan on a large inheritance, then you need to save and invest. Everyone benefits from hiring a financial advisor, from young people or couples out of school and starting their careers, those looking to buy a home, and even people who have recently experienced death or divorce. Hiring a financial advisor is about finding someone you trust to help you with your finances.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Brian Loy. Brian wanted to be a doctor, but his professional goals changed as a junior at the University of California, Berkeley. His desire to “cure” remained, and he changed his major to bring his clients “financial wellness.” He loves what he does and loves making a difference in people’s lives, helping them do what they’d rather be doing with confidence, and keeping harmony in their families. He’s been in financial planning and investments since 1980. His firm, Sage Financial Advisors, focuses on helping clients build, protect and transfer their wealth so they can focus on the things that matter most to them — security, control and flexibility. Brian focuses on helping conservative investors, small business owners and entrepreneurs looking to blend their business acumen with personal financial planning, couples having their first or second baby, and anyone who has experienced a life-changing event that calls for a pause or reset in financial planning.


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?

For as long as I can remember, my goal in life was to be a doctor. I wanted to help others, but halfway through my junior year of college, I realized that medicine wasn’t for me. Soon after, I discovered the personal financial planning industry. I was instantly hooked because I knew I would be able to help people, even if it wasn’t in the way I expected.

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 take away you learned from that?

On the second day of my first job in this industry, there was a copy of Dress for Success on my desk. Since then, my collection of corduroy coats and clip on ties were short lived!

My first job was also in a financial planning division with about 25 employees. One of our teammates was late one day returning from Christmas vacation. He went for a ski trip and flights were delayed/cancelled in Denver because of a snow storm. The department chief reprimanded the young employee and put him on probation. At the time, I thought the consequences were harsh because no one could control the weather. The chief’s response to us all was, “Mark doesn’t control the weather, but he controls his planning and travel itinerary. One should anticipate it snows in the winter, flights are subject to change, and Mark could have scheduled his return flight to allow for travel delays and be at work on Monday at 8 a.m.” This opened my mind early in my career about work culture and planning for unforeseen (but expected) contingencies in any way apart from finances.

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

Our firm continues to evolve and adapt to our clients’ needs and their transitions in life. We’ve been focusing more on helping people as they transition through life. We enjoy helping with changes associated with aging, including business exit/retirement decisions, transitions involving control, caregivers and maintaining dignity and independence, and wealth transfers. We’re also looking to enhance our outreach and education using social media.

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 seeing success when my clients opened up to me and we started to build strong professional relationships as we talked about the things most important to them. One of the two tipping points is our referability — getting a referral because that person trusts and values our relationship and service and they want to share that with their friends, colleagues and family members. It’s nice when a Sage Financial Advisors team member earns the trust and confidence of a client.

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?

I was a member of TEC (a predecessor of Vistage International). Of the many lessons learned from TEC, one was about Balanced Goals. There are five main goal areas: career/financial, relationships, wellbeing, spiritual and personal. The point of Balanced Goals was to make your work-life balance easier, forcing you to make SMART goals and holding you accountable. Those are the three pieces of advice I would still give anyone in any field: focus on balance, make SMART goals and hold yourself accountable to those goals.

As a “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. You need to know what you want and as importantly, what you don’t want. Ask yourself “What is important about a relationship with a financial advisor to you?” And once you know the “why’s” of what you want, the rest comes much easier.
  2. I would ask them about experiences that shaped their thinking or practice. A lesson learned is when something sounds too good to be true, they’re right. A lot of financial messaging is engineered and marketed to unsuspecting investors. Ask about their education, objectivity, organization and security. Communicate what your goals are so they can help with ways of how to achieve them.
  3. What services do you provide — “Financial Advisor” is a nebulous term. Just about anyone could call themselves that, until regulators stepped in and tried to define Financial Advisor, and the brokerage industry (and others) countered. Ask if you are getting “one stop shopping” service or independent and objective advice.
  4. How do you get paid? At its face, this is about full disclosure and your attempt to sniff out conflicts of interest.
  5. Why do you do what you do? Get their story. I have the opportunity to make a positive difference in peoples’ lives daily. I enjoy helping people achieve what matters most to them and allowing them to focus on the things that matter.

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?

Having a bunch of money is a good reason to seek financial advice, but it’s not the only one. Unless you can afford to live off Social Security alone in retirement, or plan on a large inheritance, then you need to save and invest. Everyone benefits from hiring a financial advisor, from young people or couples out of school and starting their careers, those looking to buy a home, and even people who have recently experienced death or divorce. Hiring a financial advisor is about finding someone you trust to help you with your finances.

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’m most grateful for my professional mentors, Jack and Grant. Jack was my first boss and he helped me greatly when I first began my career. Grant taught me about Balanced Goals, negotiating and doing the right thing. He’d often say, “don’t fall in love with the deal,” and he taught me that emotions can get in the way and make even a rational person make an irrational decision. He taught me to step back and get objective advice to help think things through.

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.

My movement is all about financial literacy. Our educational and vocational systems can teach one to be a doctor, engineer or mechanic. But where do you learn how to run a business, or even how to run your household finances? I would like to see better financial education in school, to teach young people how do you make better and smarter financial decisions.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

You can follow Sage Financial Advisors on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/sagefinancialadvisors/ or LinkedIn at https://www.linkedin.com/company/sage-financial-advisors/.

Thank you for all of these great insights!

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