*Waits for the perfect opportunity to showcase boss on blog without it looking like a way to pitch our services or brag*
HAPPY NATIONAL BOSS'S DAY! (It's a real thing, see)
In my opinion, a great boss is someone who takes his or her responsibilities seriously without taking his or her role as "the boss" too seriously. That's my boss, Craig.
Somewhere between graduating with a degree in Public Relations, earning my MBA and doing part-time marketing work for a fellow Otterbein football alum's financial planning firm, I landed on the path to becoming a financial planner. Thanks to said Otterbein football alum, Craig Sutherland, RFC® of Sutherland Wealth Partners, I'm employed! Kidding, well not really, but more significantly he influenced my newfound passion for learning how to help and guide people in making smart financial decisions.
Craig has been in the financial planning industry for more than 25 years. Aside from running a successful firm, he's also one of the most patient, glass-half-full people I've been acquainted with. (When I say patient, remember, he's dealing with a communications major. I think we went over beta points last week for the 10th time.) I'm actually sitting here trying to think of a time I've seen Craig show signs of pessimism, and the only thing I can think of is when we ran out of cookie dough in our freezer. But really, not even a bad day for the Dow Jones causes this guy to skip a beat.
Craig, thanks for providing me with the tools I need to enter and succeed in this industry and for teaching me that if I avoid spending $3 on coffee every work-day for 20 years I could save more than $16,200 (not including the opportunity cost if it were invested, of course).
The Reference Club: You’re at your daughter's sporting event and someone asks you what you do. What do you say?
Craig Sutherland: That’s a great question since people make an immediate judgment of you with your first six words. My normal answer is “move people forward”. This creates further discussion because what I do is different than what my job description is. We help move people forward not only financially, but look to help them move forward in all aspects of their life. It is a powerful holistic approach to their lives.
TRC: Now I'm overthinking about the first six words I've said to the last few people I've met. What influenced you to leave Smith Barney (now Morgan Stanley Smith Barney) at age 27 and open your own firm?
CS: I knew since I was little that I wanted to own my own business. I got tremendous training at Smith Barney but quickly realized the best way to build relationships with clients was to be independent. Working in the clients' best interests first versus serving the company first was eye opening. I decided to leave and create powerful systems and processes that clients could engage in and understand.
TRC: Can you explain the relationship between Sutherland Wealth Partners and our broker, Money Concepts, to those not familiar with non-proprietary, independent firms?
CS: Money Concepts is an independent broker dealer which means we have no proprietary products (A product sold under a brand name owned by a company. Ex: Morgan Stanley has its own products that it has to sell). This is important because when we meet with clients we have no allegiance to any one company or product. We are not allowed to receive special sales incentives unlike some of our competitors. This keeps the integrity of us serving our clients with the best of intentions. We act as their personal shopper. Owning the franchise allows me to private label or brand my name as Sutherland Wealth Partners. I take tremendous pride to be able to associate a world class Broker Dealer with Sutherland Wealth Partners.
TRC: What makes our client experience unique?
CS: It’s unique in the fact I created it. Nobody else has it. Over 25 years of experience has taught me one amazing fact; everyone, regardless of age, job, experience, or status wants three things: to be loved, accepted, and appreciated. What’s unique about our approach is that it is not a one size fits all. It's customized to address your specific desires. In our business, large companies create a chassis that you need to conform to. So what if you take the other side of that debate and actually have someone who bends and molds it to customize and fit YOUR needs. The proof of a winning system is when you can take the foundation of our system and have it applied without bias to help you move forward.
TRC: Becky, 27, has $15,000 saved in a savings account, single, sort of understands what stocks and bonds are but doesn’t know where to go from there. What do you suggest?
CS: The very first thing I would recommend would be to interview advisers. Becky worked hard to save that money but to get advice on what to do should be a relationship question first, not just how much money she has. Once again, this is when experience and quality advice should be noticeable. To ask for advice means you need help. Getting help should never be about how many zeros are in your account. Rather, a deep need for someone to engage in a lasting relationship that is mutually beneficial from the good works you accomplished.
TRC: Hey Becky, our number is 614-841-9650. Describe your last embarrassing moment.
CS: It was a week ago. My 9-year-old daughter had volleyball practice and the parents were allowed to play against them for the last hour. I was up on the net and teasing with one of the girls that I was going to spike it when she served it. Since they are 9 they can come closer to the net when they serve to ensure they get it over. Well, lets just say this 9-year-old served a laser directly into the net and hit me square on the nose. The entire gym erupted in laughter as I pretended it knocked me out. It was well worth the laughs.
TRC: How would your daughters describe you?
CS: Is this a trick question ? LOL One thing my daughters (9 and 12 years old) will say for sure is that daddy was present in their lives. They would describe me as someone who is goofy, makes the best breakfast EVER, and never misses one of their events. Oh, and that I am good on the grill! But they will also say I don’t let them get away with anything, they have to eat something green, take their vitamins, and get off their devices!!
TRC: If the general public could only know two facts or pieces of advice about personal financing, what do you think they should be?
CS: Start early. The sooner you start the better chance you have to succeed. Secondly, I would say to make sure you are up to date and current with your situation. As your life unfolds your plan should mirror your lifestyle and needs.
TRC: You heard the man, millennials! How important is community involvement to you? How are you involved in the community?
CS: It is vital in my opinion that we contribute in some way to the community with our time, our talents, or our resources. For me, it was getting involved with St Jude Chidren’s Research Hospital. For 23 years I have ran the Money Concetps Classic to benefit the hospital. We are now the longest running event in Ohio for St. Jude. We take tremendous pride in that because it is a real and visual example of us walking the walk of our principals to help people. It is incredibly humbling to know that getting people together, even for one day, can help effect lives for the good. You never know what you can do until you get involved and step up for others.
*TRC: Side-note and proud employee moment -- Craig also serves on the board for the Center for Balanced Living, which is a freestanding, non-profit specialized eating disorder organization that provides comprehensive treatment, research and educational services for adolescents and adults in Central Ohio.*
TRC: What’s the difference between a broker/dealer and a financial planner?
CS: A broker dealer is the company you affiliate your license with and work under. A financial planner is the person who you work directly with for your financial needs.
TRC: What questions should people ask their potential financial planners?
CS: Ask them to describe their process. In my opinion it should be focused on the client first not the firm. Also, ask them their personal philosophy. Remember, you should interview them as much as they are interviewing you. This is a relationship you are engaging in so make sure your philosophies and attitudes align.
TRC: Describe a time when you had to help someone make a difficult decision
CS: This is very personal but also a very gratifying question for me. I adore my family and love to see them excel and grow. However, several years ago my oldest daughter was early in her dance career. She was very frustrated with all of her hard work not being recognized in her eyes. She got to the point where she said she wanted to possibly quit. This was an important teaching moment for me when we sat down quietly to discuss this. She asked me my opinion. I asked her what she wanted. She replied “ I want to be in the front not in the back. I am tired of not being noticed”. My reply was two words. GET BETTER. She looked at me with shock. I explained to her that focusing on what you don’t have or where you are aren’t currently is not getting you there any faster. I advised her to focus, practice more at home but most of all to have fun with it. It has been my experience in life that people can’t find joy. Here was my daughter in that same moment. She took my advice and now several years later her career has exploded with national recognition. The joy I receive in life is by examples like this. When others do well first, then I receive my joy!
All securities through Money Concepts Corp. Member FINRA/SIPC. Sutherland Wealth Partners is an independent firm not affiliated with Money Concepts Capital Corp.