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Industry Spotlight > Women in Wealth

Meet Advisor of the Year finalist Stephen Stricklin

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Before Stephen Stricklin was an advisor, he was a teacher and a coach. His previous career taught him the importance of truly listening, staying humble and building wisdom along with wealth. Continue reading for his insights on keeping a proper perspective in an ever-changing industry.

On the importance of education We believe in educating our clients. Most of my new clients come to me as a result of attending some kind of financial class or workshop I’ve done. We also conduct quarterly investment education events for our clients. Thankfully, I haven’t had to give up a lot of the teaching and coaching part of me. It’s a core part of the practice and how we gain clients, but also how we retain them.

On building relationships Some of the most important things I learned as a teacher were empathy and learning how to listen to people’s needs. As a teacher, you’re in a role where people come to you looking for counsel. It’s about listening, gathering the facts and trying to come up with the best solution based on what’s available. A lot of that carries over to being an advisor.

On adding value for existing clients Once someone becomes a client, we don’t look at them as a customer. It’s not transactional, it’s always relational. This means we fully expect to see these people again. Whereas I feel like in the traditional model, especially the commission-based model, you sell something, they leave and unless they have new assets, there’s no reason to visit with them again. I think that’s what hopefully sets us apart — adding value after they become a client.

On building wisdom along with wealth I feel it’s important to make sure you understand what your money needs to do to accomplish your goals first, then, choose the investment.

So the biggest goal I have for my clients is they should all understand why they own what they own. What purpose is it fulfilling?

First, have wisdom, then build wealth on that. Most people are trying to do the opposite; they’re trying to get rich quick or to find a way to maximize their money but without a plan.

On robo-advisors A robot doesn’t have a heart; a robot isn’t going to listen. A robo-advisor, in my mind, causes people to lose accountability — to make potentially irrational decisions. It’s really critical they have an advisor who knows them, their situation, and who can offer them objective advice.

I think a lot of mistakes can be made, especially when it comes to timing the market or trying to get in and get out. My gut feeling is that robo-advisors are going to be popular as long as the market is doing well, but if we have a crash like we did in 2007–2008, I think people will lose confidence again and that’s where they realize, “What I’m doing on my own doesn’t work.”

On staying humble It’s important to maintain a proper perspective. You meet with people often who have accumulated a lot, who have a lot of wealth. I certainly have been blessed being in this business. So you always want to be thankful for what you have and realize you’ve been blessed.

I try to leave the country every few years and go somewhere where there’s some obvious needs. Go and see the conditions, the people and do what I can to help. That’s a big part of who I am.

I also work with Rachel House, a Kansas City-based pregnancy resource for women who have unplanned pregnancies. Rachel House provides ultrasounds and other resources for them. A lot of the women come from poorer parts of the city where there aren’t a lot of resources and options available, so we support that through their annual banquet, their charity golf tournament and things like that.