My future as an entrepreneur was clear to me in the fifth grade, in Greeneville, Tennessee, when I sold all of my swim team’s leftover t-shirts to my classmates. Entrepreneurship is definitely in my blood — my dad was a businessman with an engineering bent. My caring, empathic side comes from my mother, who was a social worker.
Determined to graduate from the University of Florida, I earned my tuition by working as the house and kitchen manager of my 60-plus-member fraternity house, and by working for IBM and Apple as a college representative.
My interest in financial planning was sparked in my first job, as account representative at Lanier HealthCare. I took an interest in their 401(k) plan and talked to my workmates about how important I felt that it was to contribute. It was so enjoyable; I told my wife I thought I’d be a good financial planner. She said, “well, why don’t you do it?”
Michael Landsberg and I met at Merrill Lynch, my starting point in investments. In fact, Michael was my mentor my first two years there. After a few years at Merrill Lynch, I decided to go off on my own and asked Michael to help manage my client’s portfolios. We work so well together because our personalities complement each other’s and because we have shared personal interests like golf, the Gators and the Bucs.
Our team at Landsberg Bennett is awesome. The key has been finding people who embody our values.
Just as in coaching or medicine, in planning and investing there’s a correct “textbook” strategy and a strategy that is right for a particular client, given his or her temperament and situation. The right strategy also takes relationships into account — is it fair to a spouse? Will it damage a relationship with a child? Wisdom and experience will often trump technical knowledge. It’s the art of advising, and we feel it’s just as important as the science.
The best thing about this work to me is the impact we have on peoples’ lives — both today and in the future. We’re trying to address many issues with a number of educational programs and activities for our clients. That’s one of the most fulfilling aspects of this job — that, and when someone tells me how grateful they are to have met us.