Eszylfie (pronounced “Es-zelfie”) Taylor is “swinging away.”
After a successful career at New York Life, the founder and president of Taylor Insurance and Financial Services in Los Angeles now manages a practice that serves 1,500 clients — which includes celebrities and Hall of Fame athletes — all while juggling a weekly radio show, recently penning a book, sitting on the boards of three non-profits and founding the non-profit Future Stars Basketball Camp.
Oh, and he’s a dad to three young girls, just became a certified yoga instructor and is creating a financial literacy app coming out this fall.
“My planning/advisory practice is kind of the jump off, if you will, and from that [my career] spawned into many other things.”
After a 13-year career at New York Life — during which he was named to New York Life’s top 25 nationwide agent list, the firm’s top agent/advisor ranking in Los Angeles/Pasadena, as well as a top African-American advisor at New York Life at age 35 — Taylor struck out on his own. Why? Because in his mind, he says, he wasn’t fulfilling his talent and his calling.
Describing himself in a recent interview with me as “too stubborn to stay down,” Taylor says he wouldn’t have his lightning fast pace “any other way.”
Having just turned 40, Taylor spouts words of wisdom beyond his years, and says his biggest advice to other advisors: “prospect up.”
“Build a book of business with people that make the amount of money that you want to make,” he says. “For me, I don’t want to be the most successful guy in the room. If I’m the most successful guy in the room, how can I grow? In life, you’re green or you’re brown. You’re growing or you’re dying. And I want to grow.”
Following is an edited version of my interview with Taylor in mid-July.
Tell me about your financial literacy app. I’m working on a financial literacy app where I’m going to integrate financial wellness, health — good clean eating — and yoga. I became a certified yoga instructor. Integrating all those things into one. What’s better than me making $10,000, $20,000, $50,000 on a financial plan? It’s me making $10 per month from 100,000 people.
The app will be straight to consumers. It will be giving people a financial tip and a yoga tip three or four times a week, and you just pay a fee and do like a boot camp: a 30-day financial cleanse, a 30-day debt elimination challenge.
Giving people tools to create savings and eliminate debt, invest their money and charge them a nominal fee.
It’s like McDonalds: their average ticket is about $5 or $6, yet they make billions of dollars per year because of the large numbers. The average American could be my client.
This allows me to take my spirit, my knowledge, my passion and disseminate it to the masses where they can all get value and I can reap the benefit of working with lots of people.
Tell me about your book, “Ask the Experts: the Unique Benefits of Working with Top Professionals.” The book was a collaboration with other experts in other fields. I spearheaded that and then brought everyone together.
Why did you want to write it? The main goal, similar to the radio show [also called Ask the Experts], is to promote financial literacy. I graduated magna cum laude with a degree in business [from Concordia University in Portland, Oregon] and I didn’t know 99% of this [financial] stuff until I was in the real world.
You file your taxes — how do you file your taxes? What are exemptions? What are holdings? How does that work?
You want to buy a house. You’re offered a 15-year, a 30-year and deductible? What is that? You have to make all these choices and yet there’s no one who teaches us these things … That’s the impetus of [the book].
I wanted to write a manual, a general jump off for people to say, ‘Here’s some things in these specific arenas that you should be aware of.’
Do you see financial literacy as one of the biggest challenges now? Most people are completely financially illiterate. It’s not that they’re not smart and possess the ability to understand it. I liken it to trying to drink from a fire hydrant — you’ve got so much coming at you, there are so many moving parts and options out there, it’s overwhelming.
When you have someone who can guide you through the chaos, if you will, and say: ‘Based on your objectives, needs and situation, here are the four or five things you should consider. Yes, there are 100 of them out there, but they all really don’t apply to you. Here’s what’s pertinent to your situation.’
Do you find that your celebrity clients are less financially literate than the business owners? Yeah. There’s a few different elements in working with athletes and entertainers than your average business owner. One, is that athletes or entertainers didn’t make their money in business. So when it comes to investment strategies, tax mitigation strategies, and the like, they’re not privy to them because they didn’t make their money, build up a business … they run fast or they can make three-pointers, or they sing or dance really well.
[An example is asking a client with] $30 million [how they became] broke? Well, if [you] grew up with no … understanding of how investments and taxes work and I gave you $30 million, [would you] all of a sudden have that acumen? All of a sudden you create a well-diversified investment portfolio and integrate strategies to mitigate risk? Why would you know that? Now you’re a rich person who’s financially illiterate, which a lot of times can make things worse.
Do you spend more time helping athletes? One of the biggest differences is you aren’t dealing with the athlete alone. You typically have to go through a business manager and the accountant.
For the most successful relationships I have with the athletes is when we are all aligned — the entire team is aligned. If the business manager or CPA have a different agenda or objective than me, then it doesn’t work.
My value comes after they’re done playing. If you’re making $5 to $10 million per year, you can’t really go broke while you’re playing. That’s a lot of money to spend. It’s that you don’t curtail your expenditures or you didn’t prepare for a time when you’re not making $5 million per year and you’re making $300,000 per year. But you’re still living like you’re making millions, …
… I have an NFL guy [who] I was introduced to a few months ago. He made probably $30 million in the NFL and I asked him how much money he had left. He said $6 million. I asked him what his run rate was. He said he’s spending $150,000 per month, and now he’s out of the league.
How old? He’s 32. You don’t have to be a rocket scientist: how long can you draw $150,000 from $6 million? That’s a recipe for disaster. I don’t know if his business manager told him that, [and/or] kicked him in the butt for that.
How do you prioritize your time? My ideal client is a successful business owner over an athlete. I work with athletes, entertainers are part of my book of business, but if you looked at my book of business, there would be no commonality other than they’re successful.
Young, old, white, black, Hispanic, Asian, Indian, they’re across the board. Doctors, lawyers, business owners, realtors, entertainers — I’ve more or less perfected planning concepts and how you make your money is of little consequence. If you make money, then I can help you. I spend all of my time trying to build and strengthen relationships with people. Every non-income generating activity I’ve hired someone to do that.
Washington Bureau Chief Melanie Waddell can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Check out Ex-Merrill Advisor Whips ‘Assets Into Shape’ Over a Glass of Wine on ThinkAdvisor.