In his time with Mission Wealth, Client Advisor Steve Caltagirone has been instrumental in growing our business in the Northern California and Pacific Northwest regions. In this interview from 2017, Steve spoke about how much he enjoys having rapport with clients, how he developed a strong work ethic and how heavy metal rocks his world. As a bonus, he offers advice on three of the most important things people can do to improve their finances.
What childhood experiences formed who you are today?
I moved a ton as a kid. I was actually in a different school and/or different state each year for many of my formative years. I then moved across the country to start high school in California. I believe the cumulative experience made me incredibly adaptable to just about any environment. I also think it led to me being extremely comfortable working independently as a remote office Client Advisor for Mission Wealth.
Also, my father is someone who personified the American dream. He is a first-generation immigrant whose parents literally came to America “off the boat” in New York as Italian immigrants. My father graduated high school at 17 and went straight into the Marines because that is something you simply did back then with few other options after high school. After completing his service in the Marines, my father enrolled in a small local college, and to put himself through school, he worked on a trash truck. He finished college with a degree in Accounting and immediately became a CPA. He worked his way through the corporate world to do quite well for himself, ultimately retiring as a CFO of a public company. My many moves as a kid were due to the fact that my father’s company went through a number of mergers over a short period of time that led to our frequent relocation coupled with favorable promotions for his career.
There is no question in my mind that moving around a lot and watching my father’s hard work both played a large role in who I am today, certainly from a work-ethic standpoint. Additionally, I believe it cemented in me a mindset that prevents any thoughts of entitlement in life for success in things like sports, academics, or career.
How do you like to spend time outside of Mission Wealth?
The vast majority is with my family! My wife and I have two boys, 13 and 11. Our boys are heavily involved in sports, which in today’s world is a full-time commitment. I spend a lot of time coaching baseball between January and July most years, however, 2018 should be my final year. Otherwise, I am very fitness-oriented so I spend time in the gym, biking or hiking when not at MW or coaching. For many years, I was also an active skydiver, but with the increased family responsibilities as the boys’ got older, that has certainly died down dramatically!
Are you a raving fan of anything – like a sports team or band or school? And why?
My family and I are fans of the Oakland A’s. Every year it gets harder and harder to keep the faith. But like many other East Bay families in the Bay Area, we refuse to give up the ghost.
I am also (embarrassingly for 30+ years now) a heavy metal music fan. My listening is pretty much limited now to the gym and solo drives in my car. But despite the pleas of my wife, I just can't stop listening!
What’s something interesting that people don’t know about you?
Here are three fun ones:
- I’ve jumped out of a plane 1,000 times.
- Despite an Italian heritage, I absolutely HATE both onions and garlic. On anything.
- I’ve never had a cup of coffee in my entire life. I’ve also never played a round of golf in my entire life!
If you could offer any advice to your younger self, what would it be?
I would tell myself to please stop stressing so much about tomorrow. Planning for the future is certainly important. But figure out more quickly what you cannot (nor ever will be able to) control and enjoy every minute of the here and now.
At Mission Wealth we talk to people all the time about what their goals and aspirations are. So what’s on your bucket list?
Once the kids are off to or out of college (we hope!) I definitely want to travel with my wife. We’ve travelled very little in our 20-plus years together, so this is definitely a goal. I don’t have any bucket list locations (or anything like that). There’s so much to see in the U.S. that we’ve just put it off for years.
Are you a part of any organizations? Tell us more about it.
My biggest commitment time-wise is my town’s Little League, the Tassajara Valley league. Over the years I’ve had the privilege of coaching kids from age 7 to age 12. It is my biggest hope that many years from now, lots of the kids on my teams will have something favorable to look back upon (as adults) from our years, or seasons together.
What do you think makes you well-suited for your current role as a Client Advisor? Is there something about your personality that guides your approach?
I have a genuine interest in people and a constant desire to help and demonstrate care in the form of service. I genuinely want people to feel important because they can tell that I have a genuine interest in them as opposed to a feigned interest for self-benefit purposes.
What does a day of work look like to you?
There is a constant rotation of 1) existing client discussions, emails, advisory-related items, 2) follow up and/or analysis with existing prospective clients, and 3) outreach and communication with any number of our Advisory partners such as Fidelity, Schwab, attorneys, accountants, and others.
What are your favorite kinds of clients to work with and why?
My favorite clients are the ones that are more interested and driven or motivated by life events or “moving parts” vs. a constant focus on the market and/or making money. Clients that welcome you into their life with the biggest or smallest detail of what makes them tick, what brings them joy. If I can spend 90% of a client call or meeting discussing non-portfolio or non-market related topics alone, I have an ideal client.
What do you think are the 3 most important things people can do to improve their finances?
- A wise and self-made friend of mine who retired at 50 once said to me (in explaining his success): “It really wasn’t about what I earned over the years in income, bonuses, etc. It’s what I consistently DID NOT spend that made the difference.” I think this is truly great advice for young people striving for financial flexibility at a reasonable age in life.
- Pay attention and adhere to a consistent discipline. Max out your workplace retirement plan each and every year. Stretch to max out non-workplace retirement account options if you qualify. Stick to a consistent asset allocation. Trade very infrequently. Avoid cash build-ups beyond a hard-coded emergency fund.
- As early in life as possible, draw a very clear line in the sand between true wants and needs. This line is way too blurred for most young people. This is a constant theme I stress to my young kids as virtually every want in a young person’s life is misconstrued as a need. The sooner you can get a handle on the critical distinction between the two, the quicker you will be on the path of #1 above.
Steve Caltagirone is a Client Advisor at Mission Wealth and has been with the firm since 2013. He is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designee, and he specializes in serving retirees and independent women.