Greenstone Wealth's Taylor Wilson: Helping clients as an independent advisor
The former Edward Jones advisor discusses how technology serves his Iowa-based practice
Welcome back to Vise’s Advisor Insights Interview Series. We’ll be interviewing financial advisors of all types on what makes them successful and how they’re incorporating technology into their businesses (see our previous interview here).
This time, we’re hearing from Taylor Wilson, the founder and president of Vise client Greenstone Wealth. In the interview below, Taylor discusses his practice, the top-of-mind concerns for his clients, and how technology helps him make a difference.
How did you get into the financial planning business?
I started off with Edward Jones, and in your first year they require you to knock on doors to drum up new business before you can officially become a financial advisor. You have to get 300 names and phone numbers, then you can officially kick off advising a base of clients.
Back then, people would just let you in, and then a few minutes later, suddenly you’re looking at their 401(k). I stayed on board there for a couple of years, but then decided to go out and start my own shop a few years back. It’s been a very rewarding experience thus far.
"Having automated investing technology to build custom strategies has helped me attract a lot of those workers to work with us."
Tell us about Greenstone and your clients.
We’re based in Forest City, a town in Northern Iowa close to the Minnesota border. It’s really a typical Midwestern small town. There are about 2,000 people in the area employed by Winnebago, and having automated investing technology to build custom strategies has helped me attract a lot of those workers to work with us at Greenstone.
We work with about 50 families total, representing around $15 million in assets. Most of our clients are normal, working people who want to save for retirement and get a financial plan in place. A lot of them have been saving in a 401(k) for a long time, and they’re approaching 65 and want to retire. They want to know when they’ll be able to retire, how Social Security and Medicare work, how they’ll access their money, etc. I guide them through the decisions they need to make to plan for the future, and help them set goals and get target portfolios in place.
As we’ve continued to acquire new clients and grow, I’m starting to consider adding to the team, particularly to build out capabilities around tax preparation, and also help grow and scale the financial planning side of the business, since the investment management piece is all automated.
What are the top things your clients are worried about? How do you address their concerns?
Most people I come into contact with don’t have any sort of financial plan in place, and in fact according to a study from Anytime Estimate, nearly 40% of Americans are not saving for retirement at all. With retirement being the number one objective of most of my clients, getting a plan in place that will help them get there is typically their biggest concern.
I don’t charge new clients for a baseline financial plan — I just don’t think having to pay for something that’s not a ton of effort for an advisor to put together should be a barrier to entry for those interested in effectively managing their finances.
The other thing that’s very tough for my clients who are near retirement is the idea of shifting from saving to spending. It’s a completely new mentality for most of them. And generally I’m not telling them anything groundbreaking, but sometimes people just need someone to tell them things they already know to help them sleep better at night. But I am able to help them get a solid financial plan in place, and easily build an investment strategy that makes sure their money is working for them in a way that’s tailored to their specific needs and goals.
"Using Vise helps me onboard clients and get their investment strategy in order quickly."
How are you using technology in your practice?
I spend most of my time focused on the financial planning side of the equation, so when I realized early on in starting my company that I needed to be able to manage my clients’ investments, I started looking for a solution. Using Vise helps me onboard clients and get their investment strategy in order quickly.
My clients hire me because they don’t know investments. When I start showing them there are actual companies behind the single securities they are investing in, they start to lose the idea that stocks are just equity in a company and develop emotional ties to and newfound interest in their investments and the work I’m doing for them.
How has the industry changed over the years you’ve been in it?
Twenty years ago, financial advisors weren’t really planners or advisors, they were largely brokers selling clients whatever funds they could. As a client, you wouldn’t hear from them again until they had something else new they wanted to sell you.
Now, emphasis is much more on financial planning — and being that planner and guide is really the value that we bring to the table. And because I have technology to manage the investments and help my clients maximize their portfolio and returns, I’m able to dive deep on planning and make sure my clients have a great experience.
September 22, 2022