Mission Wealth’s Spotlight on the Team for October is Client Advisor Rory Macdonald. Rory has been with Mission Wealth for nearly 7 years, and brings to the firm over 9 years of experience in finance. In this interview we learn that Rory is a citizen of not only the United States but 2 other countries. He also provides a helpful piece of financial advice on how to set budget goals and make improvements.
What are a few childhood experiences you had that formed who you are today?
When I was younger my family moved from Sydney, Australia, to California. What was originally going to only be a move for 2-3 years ended up being permanent. Leaving all of our family and friends behind and moving to a completely new and unknown place definitely had a strong impact on me. This left me with a strong appreciation for getting outside your comfort zone – meeting new people and trying new things.
How do you like to spend time outside of Mission Wealth?
I try to take advantage of living just 10 minutes from LAX and travel a lot. My favorite trip this year was a week-long stay in Croatia bouncing around the islands in the Adriatic Sea. Next year is Greece!
Are you a raving fan of anything – like a sports team or band or school?
Like any good LA resident I’m a big Lakers fan. It was impossible to watch growing up and not become a fan! I’m very excited about the next couple of years for the team.
What’s something interesting that people don’t know about you?
I’m a citizen of the US, Australia and Ireland. I was born in Sydney, and my mom applied for me as an Irish foreign birth. I eventually got my US citizenship after living here for over 10 years.
If you could offer any advice to your younger self, what would it be?
Don’t sweat the small stuff. It’s easy to let little things pile up and bog you down. Focus on what’s important and what you have control over.
What do you think makes you well-suited for your current role?
I think I’m a very approachable person and tend to connect with people quickly. In a role where client interaction is so important, I believe this is a very valuable trait.
Is there something about your personality that guides your approach?
I find that in forming a strong connection with clients it’s natural to want to understand their underlying motivations when discussing their goals. Once understood in this way, it can become possible to identify new goals or objectives that the client may not have considered yet.
What are your favorite kinds of clients to work with and why?
I personally enjoy working with clients who previously did not play a large role in managing their own finances. These relationships are very rewarding – over time their confidence and financial acumen continues to grow. After a year or two it’s often a completely different relationship from how things began.
Tell us an actual story about a client that you helped and how you changed their life in a positive way.
One of my favorite clients to talk about is one that came to us after a recent divorce. This client had limited experience managing their own finances. In the wake of the divorce, they had significant assets across many different custodians, and had moved into a temporary living situation that was costing them far too much every month. This client was frozen and having trouble planning out their next move.
After analyzing, consolidating and appropriately positioning the assets the client had left after the divorce, we put together a financial plan. We were able to forecast how large a home the client could afford, and developed a comprehensive budget that would ensure success. Eventually the client found a home in an area they liked in the value range that we advised. We’ve continued to track spending and routinely meet to make sure we’re on track.
The client has now been happily living in their new home for years and feels much more in control of their finances. Throughout this process they have continued to learn and become much more sophisticated with regards to their investments – the difference between the start of the relationship and now is night and day. We continue to revisit the financial plan whenever unforeseen challenges arise, but we are well prepared and the client’s financial future looks bright.
Give me one piece of financial advice you would offer clients:
A surprising number of individuals have very little idea of what their true spending habits are. If you don’t know what kind of money you’re spending currently, it makes it very difficult to set budget goals and make improvements or identify areas where you’d like to spend less. Beginning to properly track spending is a great first step towards improving one’s finances, and there are several applications that can make this relatively easy to do.
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?
Behavioral finance is a subject that studies the effects that many different mental prejudices can have on investor behavior. Understanding some of the basic concepts can help investors avoid common pitfalls that come with irrational or emotional investing. Protecting clients from these mistakes is one of the primary duties of any good financial advisor.
What are some important things to consider when choosing a financial planner?
Education/Qualifications, experience, and a strong connection are all very important parts of any good financial planning relationship. Outside of the goals-based financial planning process itself, there is an astounding amount of knowledge required to adequately cover the investment management, insurance and estate planning, and tax planning areas of comprehensive wealth management. As such it is important to make sure that your financial planning professional has an adequate educational background, and a holder of the CFP designation.
While a strong educational background and proper certifications will prepare an advisor for many situations he or she will face during their career, uncommon or unique situations will appear from time to time. These can often be a learning experience for both the planner and client. There really is no substitute for this type of experience that can only be gained slowly over time through continued work in the field.
Finally, the financial planning experience can end up being fairly personal. As such, it is important that the client is very comfortable with whoever will ultimately be guiding them through the process. If the trust isn’t there, you won’t be able to get the most out of the client/planner relationship.