Like countless others in the financial services industry, I entered the world of finance through insurance and mutual fund sales. I will never forget the first time I walked into an insurance company office in upstate New York. I had just graduated from college with a degree in economics and a minor in business and felt that my education qualified me for whatever leadership role they might have available.
I confidently approached the front desk and told the staff that I was looking for a job in management. My hopes were quickly dashed when the secretary explained that I would have to become a successful salesperson first, and then I might be able to move on to management. A salesperson first? They never tell you that in school.
Desperate for my first real job, I agreed. In the first interview they explained to me the huge income I could make selling insurance and investment products. The thought of making five times my current salary at my computer repair job was all I needed to hear.
The first year on the job was filled with training on how to be a salesman. The classes focused on how the company’s products worked and how to prospect for new business. Occasionally, someone taught me a useful financial planning technique, but most of the advice I received revolved around prospecting and sales strategies. The name of the game was “smile and dial.”
On top of improper training, there was another obstacle in my way—my age. At twenty-five, I found it difficult to get people twice my age to take me seriously, and this made it hard to sell them financial products. What could I possibly know that will help them plan their financial futures? I decided that I needed a few designations behind my name to increase credibility. But after achieving the first designation, the process of gaining clients’ trust, and hence their business, became no easier. The reaction I was hoping for—something like, “You’re a Life Underwriter Training Council Fellow®? My wife and I have got to work with you!”—didn’t exactly come. I was still just a salesperson in the investment and financial planning industry.
Then I thought perhaps the solution was to change broker/dealers. (A broker/ dealer is a company that is registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission and can sell securities to the public or for itself.) I attended broker/dealer conventions looking for answers, and I wandered up and down the aisles listening to sales pitches as they feverishly presented their products to salespeople like me. It was an overload of information (but I did get some nice pens and stress balls for all my efforts).
As I increased my education, however, I began to see how their sales techniques just didn’t add up. They used overly optimistic numbers to make their financial products stand out. They always seemed to focus our attention on the mutual funds they managed that had just had stellar performance; yet they virtually ignored the poor performers in their inventory. One strategy focused on confusing the client with such a complicated investment plan that the client would “become putty in your hands and buy whatever you want.”
The best advice
I questioned these tactics with an advisor at breakfast, and it was there he gave me one of the best pieces of advice I had ever received. He recommended that I pursue investment studies outside the financial product sales side of the industry. He assured me that I would never hear any objective information about investing until I removed myself from the mutual fund and insurance companies who stood to gain if I sold their products.
Why I started this company
From there, I followed the teachings of Gene Fama (2013 Nobel laureate in economic sciences) and other investing academics. I studied the investment research that came out of the academic circles from such places like the University of Chicago, Yale University, MIT, and Harvard, to name a few.
What I learned was completely different from what I was taught by the broker dealers. I discovered a way of investing that made logical sense and wasn’t fueled by making a commission. I was hooked.
Not long after that, I was compelled to start my own business. With my new understanding of investing, I could no longer work for the broker dealer selling products in good conscience. I wanted to offer clients an investing experience unlike what they would find elsewhere, where they wouldn’t feel sold to, but instead would be coached to understand investing.
Over the years I’ve added to my team as I’ve found others who, like me, were tired of the sales-driven process found at traditional broker dealers. They’ve bought in to the academic principles of investing and wanted to create a different experience for their clients too.
I hold a high standard for all the advisers who work with me, requiring them to obtain the ChFC® or CFP® designations, and become well-versed in the academics of investing. They all have many years’ experience in the industry, and I have personally trained each of them.
Call me crazy, but I believe investing should make sense. I also believe the financial planning process ought to be fun, and it should never be driven by sales. We have found that the end result of our coaching and planning is that the client, often for the first time in their life, gains a clear picture of their purpose. They can finally relax about money because they understand where they want to go and how to get there.
At Paul Winkler, Inc. our mission is to help investors Relax About Money™ by helping them understand how investment markets work, showing them how to decipher between useful investing information and marketing, and helping them develop a roadmap to and through retirement.
- We believe that financial markets are efficient and will teach this concept as the basis of management of your investment portfolios. As such, we will refrain from recommending any strategies that involve any variations of stock picking, market timing or reliance on past performance of an investment.
- In addition to our regular one-on-one meetings, we will provide regular education seminars and workshops to help keep you informed regarding topics related to your financial well being.
- We will care for you and your family’s financial future as we do our own, because we realize that your goals and dreams are every bit as important to you as ours are to us.
- We vow to take the time necessary to listen and provide the professional guidance needed to help you maintain the course toward the attainment of your goals and the expression of your “True Purpose for Money™” – even and especially, in the most difficult of economic times.
- In the event that we are not able to adequately advise you due to a lack of expertise in a given area (i.e. legal issues, etc.) we will immediately inform you and refer you, if you desire, to other competent professionals in the appropriate area.
- We plan to give you our opinion about what you should do even when you may not want to hear it, and will recommend that you do nothing when we believe doing nothing is in your best interest.
- We will make ourselves available for regular ongoing meetings to help you keep your plan on track and will be readily accessible for any phone consultations that you require. We would much rather have you call us to tell us what you are thinking about doing rather than having you call to tell us what you have already done.
- We will when necessary, remind you that poor economic news is inevitable, and at times, will cause your portfolio to lose value. We commit to coach you through such times, emphasizing our shared belief system and using education to keep you on the right track. We will remind you that you must be willing to experience temporary declines in value in a portfolio designed to outpace inflation.
Meet Our Team
Click each team member to read their bio.