On February 17, 2017, INTELUS Wealth Management first opened for business. Last week, we celebrated the three-year anniversary of the firm, a dream that had been years in the making. As an independent financial planner, I have always operated as my own business. However, after 16 years in groups with other advisors, and 18 years in the financial planning business I decided to start a firm under my own brand.
I am often asked by clients and young advisors “what did it take to get to this point in the financial planning industry where there are so few African Americans”. I tell them these five principles led to my growth, development, and the manifestation of this goal.
Reflections on 5 Principles
Today, I am blessed to have the firm I dreamed of many years ago. I get to serve families and help them create, build, protect their legacies. But it all began years ago with five principles:
1. Having a Dream
Since I’ve been in the financial planning industry, I’ve known that this is something I wanted to do. Even in college, I knew I wanted to have my own business, so that I could have more autonomy and control over my destiny. It was a guiding principle for me very early in life that evolved as I pursued a finance degree in college. To achieve your goals, having something to work towards is important. Pursue your dreams.
2. Having a Support System
I often think back about the strong support system of family and friends I had growing up and how crucial it was for me believing in my own dreams while having others believe in me. Later, it was the love and support of my immediate family through all the sacrifices it takes to be a business owner. More recently, my staff has been a wonderful support system, working hard to provide the best service for our clients and helping us grow. It’s true what they say. You can’t do it alone.
3. Persevering Through Difficulties
Surviving and thriving in this industry is difficult, but I am fortunate to be blessed with the personal trait of perseverance (maybe to a fault) that has been very important for success in this industry. There were many opportunities to quit and many reasons I could have quit, but instead, I held fast in my faith that this is what God called me to do, to help others in the area of financial planning. Fight through the pain.
4. Working Hard
Reaching a big milestone takes hard work. In the beginning I had to take on other roles in addition to financial planner. I took roles in management and compliance just to make an income to pay the bills. So, in order to give 100% and help my clients in a holistic way it took additional time, effort and sacrifice. I worked after hours and weekends. I was often the dad who was watching the games and practices in the bleachers with a laptop open. All to get to the point where INTELUS became less of a dream and more of a reality. Do whatever it takes.
5. Serving Others
Finally, I reflect on the need to have an attitude of serving others. While this has been a life-long principle for me, there was a point about 7 years ago where I prayed to God and said that I wanted to be able to help 100 people in some way that year in dealing with their money. This was really a turning point for me and the business. Whether someone became a client, or we were just chatting at a game, I looked for opportunities to help someone get the most out of their earnings, investments, retirement, or whatever was important to them. Everything else just seemed to take care of itself. Serve others.
Looking to the Future: 5 Goals for INTELUS
In looking to the future, I want to continue to serve others in the industry and the community, find more balance, while building our own legacy.
1. Impact Lives of Our Clients and Their Future Generations
Recently, a client turned 70 years old and she told me she no longer has anxiety when it comes to her financial situation. She noted that wasn’t always the case. She thanked me for the advice and assistance through the years. Going forward, this remains the number one goal of INTELUS to help each client where dollars are less a source of anxiety, and they can build their savings to be better off while leaving a little something for the next generation. Clients as well as their money will always be in different stages. We are going to meet them where they are and do our best to help them with their life and financial goals.
2. Give Back to the Industry
It is important to me to help the industry become more diverse, both in the clients we serve as well as the people who are serving those clients. Diversity of clients and advisors is not just about numbers, but also about helping clients and advisors achieve success, however that’s defined for them.
3. Make a Positive Impact on the Community We Live in
In the future, INTELUS will seek opportunities to positively impact people’s lives in our community. Whether someone is working class, middle class, or upper-middle class, many of us face challenges when it comes to balancing our own lives, the lives of our children, and the care of aging parents. We can help by giving our time, resources, and knowledge to organizations and partners working to address those challenges.
4. Improve Work–Life Balance
On this journey, there are things I must recognize about how much I have given to INTELUS and our clients. For many years, I’ve been hunkered down in my bunker, but it’s important in this season of life to find a better balance so that I can continue to do my best when it comes to our clients and the business, and still enjoy a quality of life with hobbies, family, and travel. I truly must get to a better balance and reconnect with friends and family.
5. Leave a Legacy
Finally, I am looking toward the future and my own legacy with INTELUS. If they desire, I want my children to be able to work in the business and to leave them a business that’s a model for success in helping others. I like to think of INTELUS as the “family farm”, where they can leave and try their hand at whatever their passion is; but, the “family farm” is always here and it’s going to be in great shape for them.
Thank you to all our clients, staff, family, friends and everyone else who has helped INTELUS reach our three-year anniversary. We could not have done it without your support. Here’s to many more!