REP.: You had an interesting upbringing that you say influenced your practice. Please describe.
Scott Mahoney: Growing up I watched my dad manage his electrical contracting business out of a 1974 Econoline van. It had one seat, and one crate, for summer days when I tagged along. He was the first financial manager I saw in action. While he probably never made more than $40,000 a year, he worked hard and took good care of his family.
REP.: How did that influence you professionally?
SM: For much of his life, he lacked the resources that business owners today can tap to guide their choices. He never worked with advisors who could have helped him build his confidence so he could take on smart risks to grow his business.
When I chose a career, instead of becoming a business owner, I chose to be a business advisor that I wished my father had had.
REP.: You cater to high-net-worth families and business owners. What is one of their most pressing concerns?
SM: Many look to me for advice with family gifting strategies and ways to empower their children, so they don’t use wealth as a crutch that makes them less ambitious. While they usually ask how much is enough, I encourage them to ask, “What is it for?” If we knew that our children would use their inheritance in a way that diminishes the quality of their lives, most of us would say a dollar is too much. On the other hand, if we can use our wealth in a way that helps them grow and ultimately adds richness and significance to their lives, we might say that no amount is too much. In these instances, a family endowment fund is an attractive solution.
REP.: Do you find that high-net-worth investors are more financially savvy than investors who are less affluent?
SM: No. While there are some investors who can’t get enough of all the business and investment news out there, most simply don’t have the time or inclination to learn all the nuances of the financial markets.
That being said, technology today makes it very easy for everyone to keep abreast of all this information. The challenge for even the most informed investors then is knowing what is real news and what is just noise. That is where FAs can bring real value to their clients, by helping them put a customized plan in place and encouraging them to stick with that strategy despite occasional market tremors.
REP.: What have you learned along the way that you might advise other FAs?
SM: Choose clients who share your values and appreciate the knowledge and resources you bring to the relationship. Then sincerely treat them as if they were your family: Celebrate their accomplishments and milestones, share emotional challenges, admit mistakes, make time for them and ultimately strive to protect them—like a dad protects a family.