Advice Chaser loves interviewing financial advisors with practical advice, interesting backgrounds, and unique approaches to helping clients. In this article, Advice Chaser interviewed Jeanne Gallagher. Jeanne Gallagher, Investment Adviser Representative (IAR) and Registered Representative (RR), has more than ten years of experience of managing her own
advisement firm, Seaside Solutions. We talked with her to learn more.
You didn’t start your career as a financial advisor. What inspired you to change paths and become a financial advisor?
Honestly, it was by accident. Our kids had grown up and my husband and I relocated from Maine to Florida because we were looking for year-round sunshine. At the time, I wasn’t really looking for a new career. I’d been in customer service for a long time, but I wasn’t sure what my next move was going to be. When we had just moved to Florida, I put my resume out on some job sites. Someone approached me and suggested becoming a financial advisor. It was difficult at first—I didn’t have a warm market of customers. I didn’t know anyone. So I started part-time to see if this could be a good fit to me. It ended up being a perfect fit! The customer service skills that I’d been developing over time supported me through my journey. When you’re making a change that’s supposed to happen, it’s amazing how things fall into place.
Tell us about your journey in starting your own business.
Because I started working part-time at first, I was able to build a client base. Then I moved into
a full-time role. I’ve been an independent advisor throughout my financial career. I haven’t
identified with large firms on purpose. I like to be independent and make my own rules.
Through that process, I was able to create the career I didn’t know I was looking for. This
worked out really well. When we relocated again from Florida to California after ten years, I
was able to bring my business with me. Someone took over my office in Florida and helped me
maintain clients through the transition, then I began building more in California. It was easier
the second time around because I knew what I was doing.
What is one of the most common financial mistakes you see your clients make?
It really comes down to budgeting. I talk to clients from all kinds of different backgrounds and
income levels. No matter what your income is, your financial success comes down to spending
with integrity on a daily basis. It’s an easy conversation to have, but it’s a difficult practice to
put into place. It’s so hard to change your habits. Budgeting isn’t just a math problem, it’s also a
mindset. Getting people to understand what they need to do to get where they want to be is
really challenging. But I can tell when they get it—it’s a lightbulb moment. They realize the
actions they have to take to achieve their goals. That doesn’t mean it will be easy though!
On your website, you say that you taught your kids to live by the golden rule in everything they do. How has that informed your approach to financial advice?
Yes, that philosophy is really important to me. I like to think that if I were on the receiving side
of this information, how would I like to be communicated to? There’s a huge difference
between communicating TO someone and communicating AT someone. No conversation with
my clients should ever be a sales presentation. My job is to build relationships—not just to ask questions, but to listen and interpret what’s not being said. Sometimes I wish I had a
psychology degree! I feel like I’ve been in a psychology trade school for the last fifteen years
because of the conversations I have with clients about their lives. I try to go into every
conversation with an open mindset, because my clients teach me things every day. As we work
through their problems, we find nuggets of wisdom that I can pass on to others.
You offer both one-on-one sessions as well as group workshops. For someone at the beginning of their financial journey, which one would you recommend?
That depends on what kind of direction you’re looking for. The one-on-one conversations are
personal; they’re a deeper dive into specifics onto a person’s situation. One-on-ones are
beneficial if you have questions or specific goals. If you’re looking for an introduction or an
education, a group setting is great. In a group setting, I encourage conversation so it’s not just
me speaking at other people. I encourage participants to derail me from my slideshow with
questions. If there’s something they’re interested in learning, let’s talk about it. If we don’t
even finish the content, that’s okay, because it means that people’s pressing questions are
floating to the top of our discussion. Group settings are great for businesses and organizations.
It’s also great for people who are really unsure of what they’re looking for, because someone
else can ask the question that they were too afraid to ask or didn’t even know that they needed
to ask, but you won’t get the depth of an individual conversation.
What is the most rewarding part of being a financial advisor?
It’s the relationship-building. When I get to have a conversation with a client, our discussion will
begin to paint a picture. Sometimes clients are worried, or I’m not sure what to suggest, but as
we keep talking, the puzzle pieces will begin to fit together. We go on these financial journeys
together. I have friends who are clients and clients who are friends. To be able to have a
personal conversation with somebody is always fun. That’s why it’s so important to find the
financial advisor who is right for you—you need to establish a solid relationship with that