We recently connected with Scott Eichler and have shared our conversation below.
Hi Scott, thanks for joining us today. Let’s kick things off with your mission – what is it and what’s the story behind why it’s your mission?
It was 1997, I was 21, and I was sitting in a small café across the street from the San Juan Mission called Sarducci’s. The sun had set and I nervously fidgeted with my napkin. Tom, one of the owners, came up and asked what was wrong. I explained that I was meeting a rocket scientist from McDonald Douglas to have dinner. I didn’t have any idea what we were going to talk about for 2 hours. Tom smiled and assured me that my grandfather would be ready. As promised, my grandfather walked in with a copy of The Motley Fool. This began an amazing time in which the two of us created an amazing relationship around a common identity … investing. The two of us were passionate about our mutual interest. From that point until he passed away in 2012, my grandfather and I would talk stocks, bonds, real estate, politics, etc. He passed along math, insight, history, and wisdom. I would share information about technology and new trends. Fast forward to 2006; it is 2006 and I’m sitting around the dinner table with my father. We were reviewing his financial situation. We discovered that, over the span of 20 years, my father hadn’t made any money in the stock market. This was despite the fact the overall market had grown nearly 400% in that time. The answer, sadly, was easy to find. My father was the victim of ignorant and/or apathetic salesmen. They just wanted to sell stocks to him. I could also see that the financial advisor that finally found my dad in 2000 had put my father’s interests first. I could see first-hand the difference it made in my father’s investment experience. I wanted to make the same impact on the lives of families. In 2007, my passion became my career.
As always, we appreciate you sharing your insights and we’ve got a few more questions for you, but before we get to all of that can you take a minute to introduce yourself and give our readers some of your back background and context?
Time is money and it’s easy for business owners to get bogged down by ever-changing rules and endless investing options. At Standing Oak Advisors, we simplify investing by shouldering the burden of analysis and legal coordination so owners can use business revenue to maximize personal net worth. I am a third generation business owner. We have experienced first-hand the myriad of trials that business owners face. We focus on making the most of a business owner’s revenue, so they can achieve personal financial goals. We help lower costs and taxes. We identify opportunities to increase cost basis. We locate opportunities to maximize cash flow. Most of our value comes from working alongside other professionals like CFOs and attorneys. We excel at thinking outside the box and looking for creative ways to make the most out of the tools at our disposal. Finally, we help transition business wealth to personal wealth. Our communication and service set us apart from most firms. Our industry has a habit of utilizing fancy verbiage to make us seem smart. Our firm endeavors to make finance more accessible to the families we serve. We recognize that communication isn’t premised on us talking or typing. Successful communication is the end user hearing the message that the professional intended. This is an art that takes time, practice, and intention. In turn, the service becomes far easier. Everyone is on the same page (usually). However, to secure that intention we use specific verbiage within our office. We don’t, “work with clients.” We serve families. We believe this helps us align our work with a families goals. A client is just someone that gives you money for doing work. A family entrusts you with the tool that will be needed to attain dreams and goals.
We often hear about learning lessons – but just as important is unlearning lessons. Have you ever had to unlearn a lesson?
My assumption was that people in our industry knew what they were doing. I assumed everyone was interested in making the most out of all the tools at our disposal for the benefit of the families we served. Within 6 months I realized that most agents were ignorant of math, diversification principals, tax planning, and all the other pieces that make up a good advisor. Instead, they knew compensation. More specifically, they knew what to do to maximize their own compensation. Additionally, they knew how to sell. They knew how to close. Worst of all their managers had no intention of changing anything. At times, managers would even complain about advisors that were focused on families instead of compensation structures. It wasn’t until after I had extricated myself from that culture that I began to realize how damaging that ignorance could be to families’ financial situations. I watched as managers were sued at the old firm. People lost licenses. Even then, the managing firm fought for managers that had clearly acted outside acceptable practices, but had created a lot of wealth for the firm. It was obvious to me that education and priorities needed to be the cornerstone of a practice that benefited families.
Any advice for managing a team?
Get a coach. Hiring a business coach is something I would never have considered in the past. An odd confluence of events threw me into a situation where I opted to use a business coach. I must admit the coach I ended up using essentially asked me a series of questions to which I didn’t have an answer. He sold me without selling a thing.