Mission Wealth’s Spotlight on the Team for September is Client Advisor Long Tran. Long has been with Mission Wealth for more than 2 years, and brings to the firm over 10 years of experience in finance. Long is actively working towards achieving his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification. In this interview, he reveals where he got his passion for travel from, his favorite activities and how he helped to change the life of a client for the better.
What are a few childhood experiences you had that formed who you are today?
My parents always made a concerted effort to take me on trips when I was younger which has cultivated my passion for travel. They took me on my first international trip when I was a toddler and we would regularly travel within the US and occasionally abroad during all of my breaks from school. I believe that traveling, meeting new people, and being open to new experiences helps you to gain a better sense of empathy and appreciation for cultural diversity.
How do you like to spend time outside of Mission Wealth?
Outside of Mission Wealth I like to spend time with my friends and try to stay active. You’ll typically find me in the gym after work every day. I’m lucky to call the Bay Area home so I have easy access to great hiking, diving, skiing, and a vibrant and dynamic culinary scene.
Are you a raving fan of anything – like a sports team or band or school?
I’m a huge fan of the San Francisco 49ers! The first Super Bowl I distinctly remember watching happened to be when Steve Young led the team to their last Super Bowl victory. Also the 49ers team uniforms are red, which is my favorite color, so naturally as a child I chose them as my favorite football team! Every year I try to make it to a few home games and a close group of friends (who are also diehard 49ers fans) and I typically travel to at least one away game outside of California.
What’s something interesting that people don’t know about you?
Something interesting that people might not know about me is that I’m an avid scuba diver. Each year I try to plan at least one diving trip somewhere new. I’ve been fortunate to have dived at some amazing sites in Hawaii, Thailand, Vietnam, Zanzibar, Belize, and the Caribbean. There’s something about being fifty feet underwater that is very calming and serene to me.
If you could offer any advice to your younger self, what would it be?
If I could offer any advice to my younger self it would be to not fear failure! Over the years I’ve learned that everyone faces challenges whether personal or professional and that it is best to use our mistakes or failures as a learning tool.
At Mission Wealth we talk to people all the time about what their goals and aspirations are. So what’s on your bucket list?
I love to travel and to date I’ve been to thirty-five countries and five out of the seven continents so far. It’s definitely on my bucket list to keep exploring and to travel to all seven continents during my lifetime. Finding time to schedule a trip to Antarctica is probably the biggest challenge! My goal is to explore two new countries each year and I would love to be able to lay claim to skiing on every continent where it is possible. Also on my bucket list of activities would be to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro and to scuba dive the Great Barrier Reef!
Are you a part of any organizations?
I am a member of the fundraising team and mentor at Minds Matter of San Francisco. Minds Matter SF is an academic focused mentoring organization that seeks to empower academically driven, low-income high school students from the Bay Area to reach and succeed in college. Mentors meet every Saturday to help the students with SAT/ACT test preparation, personal statement workshops, instructional tutoring, and to help them navigate the college application and financial aid landscape.
Recently I also joined the Rising Leaders Council of Global Glimpse San Francisco to focus on optimizing their fundraising efforts. Global Glimpse is a non-profit organization that send sends dozens of low-income high school students from the Bay Area on life-changing trips abroad to broaden their worldview. The aim is to develop global competence, promote social responsibility, and allow teenagers who otherwise would not have the opportunity to travel abroad and meet people from different cultures and countries. As a member of the Rising Leaders Council I help with fundraising and improving our outreach efforts to both donors and interested students.
Additionally I volunteer with Meals on Wheels of San Francisco. Meals on Wheels is a fantastic organization that delivers free hot meals to homebound seniors in the city of San Francisco. As a volunteer I help package meals and make deliveries when I can.
What do you think makes you well-suited for your current role?
I think I’m well suited for my current role because I’m very detail oriented and naturally curious. As an advisor it is important to be thorough and comprehensive in analyzing each client’s unique situation and finding the best possible solution(s) for their specific goals. The best approach may differ greatly from client to client. I’m also naturally very curious which is crucial during the beginning stages of any advisory relationship. To best serve your clients, you have to take the time to truly get to know them and understand where your clients are coming from.
Is there something about your personality that guides your approach?
I’m a pretty meticulous and a personable individual that really enjoys getting to know people. I think these traits guide my approach in working with clients because I naturally want to learn more about their goals, concerns, fears, and passions, during the information gathering process. Clients must feel comfortable sharing their thoughts and concerns and be honest with their advisor My meticulous nature drives me to try and collect as much quantitative and qualitative data as possible from clients so I can help them identify and plan for key risks they might not even know they face!
What are your favorite kinds of clients to work with and why?
My favorite clients of clients to work with are those that are collaborative and invested in the planning process. I always welcome questions and input from my clients when we sit down for a conversation. Having clients understand and collaborate with their financial planner is key in fostering trust and comfort with an advisor's recommendations.
What kinds of issues do you help your clients with and what kinds of unique services do you provide your clients with to help them with these issues?
As an advisor we help our clients deal with a wide variety of financial planning and investment management issues but I think one specific solution that I am passionate about and proud of is Socially Responsible Investing. I think Mission Wealth is unique in that we have dedicated significant time and resources towards solutions for Socially Responsible Investing. It allows us to help our clients build highly customizable investment portfolios that align their beliefs and values with their investments.
Tell us an actual story about a client that you helped and how you changed their life in a positive way.
Many times we are introduced to clients because of some significant life event. I was introduced to a client after his wife unfortunately passed away unexpectedly last year. This client needed significant help in consolidating and retitling assets, putting a financial plan together, and revising his estate plan. To further complicate things, he and his late wife were both previously married and had children from previous marriages, but looked at certain assets as separate property.
We first helped the client consolidate accounts from multiple custodians for simpler tracking and easier management. Then we helped him put together a comprehensive financial plan that included all of his goals and implemented an investment strategy that satisfied his desire for more risk management and greater cash flow from the portfolio. We introduced him to a local experienced estate planning attorney who helped him put together a much more robust estate plan to ensure that he and his late wife’s wishes will be respected and that assets would be transferred to the intended beneficiaries. Additionally we helped him put together an ongoing charitable giving strategy that optimized his philanthropic efforts from a tax-planning standpoint.
Give me one piece of financial advice you would offer clients:
Always live within your means. My most satisfied and comfortable clients are those that live within their means and have a well-thought out budget. This doesn’t mean you can’t splurge on that once in a lifetime trip or go out to a nice dinner with your significant other every once in a while but it does mean that you understand how to save for both short-term and long-term goals and have healthy spending habits. They understand the difference between a need, a want, and a wish.
What is a subject or area of finance that not many people know a lot about, but understanding it could really help their financial picture?
One area of finance that not many people know about but is so crucial would be personal finance. People are rarely exposed to any personal finance courses during the traditional elementary, high school, or college curriculum but it is so crucial in establishing healthy saving and spending habits for later on in life. I always encourage clients to sign up for personal finance courses if they can, whether it is a class online, through the local community college, or at a university. Having a basic understanding of your financial situation is so key in setting yourself up for success.
What are some important things to consider when choosing a financial planner?
Some important things to consider when choosing a financial planner are: What is his/her experience? What type of client(s) do they typically work with and is that typical client representative of yourself? During your initial meetings, does the financial planner show a genuine interest in getting to know and understand your financial situation? Lastly, are they held to a fiduciary standard where they are obligated to hold your best interests above their own?