Today we’d like to introduce you to Taylor Schulte.
Taylor, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
When I was 12 years old, my grandfather gave me what I jokingly call “the worst Christmas gift ever.” Instead of the predictable cash in an envelope, this year he gave me shares of a publicly traded stock. He used this gift as a tool to teach about money, finance, and investing. He taught me how to look up the stock in the newspaper and what a dividend was. It was this gift that spawned my interest in financial services.
10 years later, my first day out of college, I was hired as a financial advisor at a very large wealth management firm. In this role, I learned a lot about investment management and financial planning. I had a great support system and several instrumental mentors. I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.
One thing stood out to me, though, and it made me start questioning what I really wanted my career to look like: we spent A LOT of time talking about how to make the firm more money. In fact, we were incentivized to do so.
I’m not criticizing the firm. That’s how public corporations operate. They have shareholders to satisfy and a bottom line to grow. But I did think there was a better way. I understood it was someone’s job to make the shareholders happy. I just didn’t want it to be my job.
Instead, I was more interested in making my clients more money. This interest led to the launch of Define Financial in 2014. Define Financial is a commission-free (a.k.a. fee-only) wealth management firm. Our compensation comes directly from our client’s through a transparent fee schedule, not through the sale of investment products. And, unlike the large wealth management firms you know by name, we adhere to the Fiduciary Standard 100% of the time. Fi-du-ci-what!? It’s simple — we have structured our business so that we are personally liable if we give you bad advice. Sounds reasonable, right?
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Owning and operating any type of company is a challenge. I learned very quickly that there’s a difference between being a business owner and a business operator. I was used to operating my financial planning business, not owning it.
One of the biggest challenges I’ve experienced, and still experience, is the many hats you are required to wear. If there is a computer issue, it’s your job to fix it. Internet not working? Your job. Phone system not functioning as it should be? You’re staying as late as needed to get it running again.
Initially, this might seem manageable. And, in some cases, fun. But, eventually, it catches up to you. And it requires you to put people, systems, and processes in place to improve efficiency and maintain your sanity. Business school didn’t teach me any of that. I’ve had to figure it out on my own. I’m forever thankful for the amazing people in my life who have helped guide me through these challenges. Most importantly, I’m thankful for my wife’s ongoing support and understanding. I wouldn’t be where I’m at today without her.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Define Financial – what should we know?
We primarily work with two groups of individuals: 1) Retirees or those transitioning into retirement and 2) HENRY’s (High-Earners-Not Rich-Yet).
We are, what I like to call, a planning centric firm. Like a doctor, we believe it’s important to diagnose before we prescribe. How can we tell you how to properly invest your money without first knowing everything about you and your financial life? That’s like a doctor writing you a prescription over the phone without asking you a series of questions and running tests.
We start with a comprehensive plan first and then prescribe investment recommendations second. All in all, our goal is help our clients keep more of their hard-earned money, solve complex financial planning issues, and design a plan to ensure they don’t outlive their money in retirement.
Two things separate us from others. First, we don’t have an investment minimum. You don’t need to have millions of dollars to work with us. Instead, we have a fee minimum of $3,500. Many people have the cash flow to support our fee but don’t meet the investment minimums of large wealth management firms.
Second, we are a commission-free (a.k.a fee-only) firm. We aren’t compensated by selling you investment products which strips out a major conflict of interest. Client’s pay a transparent fee for our services, so they know exactly what they are paying and exactly what they are getting in return.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
It’s always a work in progress, but I’d say being a good listener. A mentor of mine taught me early on that I don’t need any fancy fliers or PowerPoint presentations to attract new clients. The best advice he gave me was to go into a meeting with a blank sheet of paper and pen, ask good questions, and just listen. Not only has it helped grow my practice, but I genuinely love this part of the job. I’m constantly learning from other’s and growing as a person.
- One-time Financial Plan: $3,500 or more, depending on complexity
- Monthly Financial Planning: $250/month or more, depending on complexity
- Address: 750 B Street, Suite 1750
San Diego, CA 92101
- Website: https://www.definefinancial.com/
- Phone: 619-577-4002
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org