Mission Wealth’s Spotlight on the Team for December is Senior Client Advisor Associate, Shane Meares. Shane joined the team in August 2020, and has been in the financial industry for 3 years. In this interview he discusses his upbringing, work style, and offers valuable advice about investing.
What are a few childhood experiences you had that formed who you are today?
When I was eight years old, my family spent a month exploring the West Coast in a motor home. While I was young and don’t have the clearest memories of all the places we went, it instilled in me a love of traveling, which has brought me to some incredible places over the years and motivated me to study abroad in Australia for a semester during my sophomore year of college. I think traveling is the most character-building pursuit you can engage in. It provides perspective, puts you in uncomfortable situations and helps you build empathy through a deeper understanding of other cultures.
Are you a raving fan of anything – like a sports team or band or school?
I’ve always been a huge John Mayer fan. The way he writes songs and his skill as an instrumentalist never gets old to me. As a longtime classic rock and blues fan, I love how he incorporates playing styles of the greats like BB King and Eric Clapton while still maintaining his own unique sound and feel.
What’s something interesting that people don’t know about you?
In high school I was the “CEO” of a student-led Virtual Enterprise class. We presented a business plan for a custom vinyl printing company that we operated as part of the class, and competed all the way to nationals in New York City, where we ended up placing in the top 10 for the Virtual Enterprise program. It was an exciting opportunity to lead people so young and played a large part in my decision to major in business in college.
If you could offer any advice to your younger self, what would it be?
I’ve always had a thirst for learning and looked up to erudite, knowledgeable people. I would tell my younger self not to worry about not knowing everything; learning is a process that is never complete and there are always resources to turn to when you don’t know something specifically.
At Mission Wealth we talk to people all the time about what their goals and aspirations are. So what’s on your bucket list?
Professionally, I want to make an impact by being at the top of my field; I want to be the person that clients and co-workers alike come to with their most difficult questions. Personally, I want to see more of the world. I’ve never been anywhere in the Asian or African continent and would love to experience new and different cultures.
What do you think makes you well-suited for your current role?
I’ve always been meticulous and organized, and these qualities are what allow me to keep up with the workload at Mission Wealth on a regular basis. I’m also even-tempered and polite while not being afraid to question the status quo if there appears to be a better way of doing something.
Is there something about your personality that guides your approach?
I’m all about staying organized. Nothing bothers me more than not fulfilling a promise or forgetting about a task I was helping a client or coworker with.
Give me one piece of financial advice you would offer clients.
Start investing early. The power of compounding is incredible given time and if you give yourself a long period of time to build wealth you will be amply rewarded.
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?
I’ve always been fascinated by behavioral finance, which is a field that studies how psychological influences and biases affect the financial behavior of investors. For example, investors are more unhappy to lose a sum of money than they are happy to gain that same sum of money, which is called loss aversion. Understanding our own irrationalities as humans can help us make better decisions.
What are some important things to consider when choosing a financial planner?
It all comes down to trust; advisors act on your behalf as fiduciaries and clients need to be able to trust that we have the skills and expertise to manage their money prudently, the honesty to disclose conflicts of interest and the integrity to put the clients’ interests above our own. On that same note, it’s a two-way street. We trust that clients will give us an accurate and honest depiction of their financial picture and consider the advice offered.
Tell me a story about a client that you helped and how you changed their life in a positive way.
A few years ago I was working for a Registered Investment Advisor in Northern California, servicing clients for the President of the firm. The firm was old-school and slow to roll out new technologies and procedures, but recognized the value financial planning would bring to the home office and put me in charge of becoming familiar with, beta testing, and ultimately selecting financial planning software to use. After a few months of trialing programs, I selected Moneyguide Pro as the winner and began offering the service to key clients of the President, many of whom had been clients of the firm for over 20 years and none of whom had ever received a financial plan.
The response to the program was unanimously positive, and two clients always stick in my mind as an example of the value of planning. This particular couple was within two years of retirement and needed help in determining if they were on track. With a modest investment portfolio and no significant assets besides their primary residence, their plan was initially returning a low probability of success. After a meeting with the couple to discuss the inputs, I determined two things. The first was that the clients did not have a good grasp on their expenses and had provided a ballpark number for their monthly living expense. The second was that they did not have any problems downsizing to a significantly smaller home in retirement if it meant that they could maintain their standard of living. With these key points in mind, I developed a new retirement scenario modeling for them a scenario where they downsized to a smaller home. I also provided them with a budgeting worksheet so that we could arrive at a more accurate picture of their expenses and discovered that not only were their monthly expenses lower than initially provided, but there were many expenses that (upon further discussion with the clients) would be reduced or eliminated upon, or at some point during, retirement. After optimizing when they would take Social Security benefits, their financial plan ended up working with a high probability of success.
This particular planning situation is memorable to me because it reinforced the importance of communication. Had I taken their initial inputs and provided a plan, the output would not have been meaningful to the client and would have only added to their retirement trepidation. In taking the time to clarify all of the information and ask the important questions regarding alternative scenarios for the plan, I was able to provide more realistic guidance and felt more confident in those recommendations. In addition, it felt immensely satisfying to tell these clients, who had been fearful of retiring for years, that with small changes to their lifestyle they could successfully retire within two years.