Living outside the hustle and bustle of the city on a small farm has its advantages. Besides making it easier to tire our two active young boys, we are also fortunate enough to have the space to grow plenty of fruits and vegetables to cook with and eat. Farming opens up a whole new world of learning, which is truly my favorite pastime.
It is also far removed from the temptations and new trends of Wall Street, an absolute imperative for an independent advisor. I have never had a difficult time thinking independently. When I committed to the investment advisory industry more than a decade ago, I figured I had to learn to invest first (little did I know that this was not a prerequisite). Fortune had it, however, that the new entrepreneurship professor from the University of Portland, where I was attending undergrad, had a connection with a significant donor of the University who was an investor. I jumped at the opportunity to learn and he mentored me throughout the technology boom and subsequent bust.
My mentor taught me a few important lessons of investing: You can’t do what everyone else is doing, because the majority, just go along with the crowd. You have to involve yourself with and invest in trustworthy, honest, and ethical people. Finally, you have got to do your homework in order to know what you own. These have remained absolute throughout the years and have guided me as an investor through two significant recessions.
In an industry where being a great salesperson was most important, I knew there had to be opportunity. I had a rude awakening when I decided it would be beneficial to gain more technical experience and I went to work for a small savvy investment bank. Although I gained valuable tax, business consulting and estate planning expertise, I quickly became disenchanted with the industry in general. I began to realize that I needed to start the firm that I felt everyone deserved.
I soon found the missing ingredients in my eventual business partner. He had successfully managed and sold his business and had observed many of the same things as a potential client. With shared values and vision we set out to create Pilot Wealth Management, the firm we wanted managing our own families money.