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Meet Advisor of the Year finalist J. Christopher Dixon

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For decades, Chris Dixon ran companies in the finance sector. A few years ago, he sold his business and wanted to be smart with the proceeds. As he spoke with various advisors, he felt that too many were trying to sell him products rather than laying out a complete plan. Sensing a void in the market, Dixon decided to fill it himself. Read on for his thoughts on building trust, the dynamic nature of financial products and the importance of asking questions.

On keeping an open mind I don’t have any preconceived notions when someone comes in. I hate to say it, but I see people every day who only offer or push one product. I often say, “Cinderella’s slipper only fits Cinderella.”

Anytime I get to the recommendation stage with a client, I always offer at least three products. And, I tell everybody up front that all products out there on the market, every single one, have good, bad and ugly in it. My job is to tell you about all the good, bad and ugly on the front side so you can make an intelligent decision. Most people who have money or who’ve saved money don’t want to be sold, they want to buy. I don’t sell; I educate and let people buy.

On working with seniors I feel seniors are the most patriotic demographic that’s ever been in the United States. And every single one I’ve run across, they’re just good, wholesome people. They didn’t live the way a lot of folks today live — paycheck to paycheck. They saved money; they had a plan in place; they saved some of every paycheck. And now they’re looking for advice for the distribution phase.

On trust There are a lot of people out there who just don’t do the job the right way. So there’s negative press about the Bernie Madoffs of the world. I tell everybody that I want them to get to the point where they trust me, but I want to earn that trust because trust is earned and not given. I tell clients, “Bring your statements and fill out your questionnaire before you come to our first meeting with me but hold that back until I earn your trust. If I don’t earn it in the first meeting, I’ll earn it in the second meeting.”

On product innovation I love that the industry is dynamic and that products are always getting better. The carriers are really answering the call, and our job, as good advisors, is to maintain a high level of integrity and continue to educate ourselves about the products.

I think change is great. The negative is if you worked with someone four years ago, they didn’t have access to some of these new things and when they hear about it, you have to explain that they’ll have to wait a little bit. I tell people up front “Look, I’m going to get you the absolute best product that’s offered today. If we’re having this conversation next year, it could be a different product.”

On giving back One of my client’s daughters started a soup kitchen five years ago when her husband passed away. I was able to help take care of her and put her in a really good retirement position where they had some income coming in so they wanted to do something in the name of her husband. They started this soup kitchen in his honor and wanted to know if I’d participate, so I helped to organize it as a non-profit and got them in contact with the right attorneys, CPA and builder. I still consult and offer advice to them.

On having children in the business I have three sons, one of whom is still in college. The others both work with me. Sam just graduated from college in December, and Christopher was instrumental in helping me start the business while he was still going to school. They have a really good work ethic like I do, and they saw other people coming out of college with lots of debt who couldn’t get good jobs. They have a real sense of pride when they’re able to help people within our business. I’ll have to be really old before I retire because I love work. I love getting up every day, and coming and meeting people.