Meet Scott Jacobs, a wealth advisor at Mindful Money. In this interview, Scott talks about financial planning and his experience at Mindful Money.
Money is powerful. It affects all areas of our lives. Not only that, but human nature puts us at risk of making irrational financial choices. Today we are talking with wealth advisor Scott Jacobs from Mindful Money who explains the importance of business relationships, why it’s useless to chase returns, and how to be mindful of your emotions.
This is part two of the Mindful Money Talks series. Get to know the Mindful Money Team and learn more about how to be mindful with your money.
Alessandra Illarramendi: Hello mindful money planners and happiness seekers. We are sitting down with Scott Jacobs who is a wealth advisor at Mindful Money. Scott merged his private wealth management practice with Mindful Money in July of 2018 and he has been a vital member of the team. Welcome Scott.
Scott Jacobs: Welcome. I am happy to be here.
Alessandra Illarramendi: Great! We are here to talk about Scott’s experience and his work at Mindful Money. But before we do that we want to get to know you a bit better, Scott. Let’s start with some ice breaker questions. So tell us a bit about yourself.
Scott Jacobs: Sure, I am from New York, my family is a family of school teachers. Everybody is still back East for the most part and I got into this business about 25 years ago and there are only a couple of things that I miss about New York, the pizza, bagels, and my family. The list is pretty short, but I’ve been here for about 20 years now.
Alessandra Illarramendi: That sounds like a pretty good list. What is one thing that most people don’t know about you?
Scott Jacobs: I played soccer, literally my whole life since I was 5 years old, right into college. I played throughout the world actually, at numerous tournaments and with traveling teams. And I definitely had a world class mullet at the time.
Alessandra Illarramendi: Awesome! And if you could be an animal which one would you choose and why?
Scott Jacobs: I have an affinity towards companions, like dogs, cats, and animals of that nature. I’ve definitely been known to be a cat person for sure. A cat would be my choice here. I remember seeing a bumper sticker or some kind of piece of art, and it basically said “Dogs Have Owners and Cats Have Staff”, and I really could relate to being treated like royalty, like our cats are treated. They are beautiful companions. They have a good life, those cats.
Alessandra Illarramendi: Very good life. And if you would create a slogan for your life, what would it be?
Scott Jacobs: I probably picked this up in the last few years, something like “Just about everything can be resolved with honest, authentic communication.”
Alessandra Illarramendi: Ooh, I love that! Really good slogan. What would you say are three words that describe you best?
Scott Jacobs: I kinda tap my wife into this one. I think passionate for sure and thoughtful, and very enthusiastic.
Alessandra Illarramendi: Very good qualities.
Scott Jacobs: Thanks.
Alessandra Illarramendi: What is something that everyone else seems to love, but that you don’t understand?
Scott Jacobs: I can't really think of one in particular, I'm going to give you a few. There are a few things out there that I just don't get. One of them is mushrooms, everyone seems to love mushrooms except for Scott. Two is the Real Housewives. Everyone seems to think these real housewives are the cat’s meow, I don’t get it, no pun intended. And lastly bacon. Bacon is supposed to be something God created and I don't really get that at all. Those are my three.
Alessandra Illarramendi: I do love mushrooms and bacon and I do agree about Real Housewives.
Scott Jacobs: Okay good, good! Great!
Alessandra Illarramendi: That was all for our round of ice breaker questions. Now we want to get into your wisdom and experience.
Scott Jacobs: Okay
Wisdom and Experience
Alessandra Illarramendi: So, what is one thing you wish you had known when you began your career?
Scott Jacobs: Something along the lines of the path of personal growth and development. Personal growth bears a lot of ongoing fruits throughout your life and the sooner you get started the better. Things like the Tony Robbins communication forums, things like that are really good helpful stuff.
Alessandra Illarramendi: Definitely. What advice would you give someone who wants to pursue a career similar to yours?
Scott Jacobs: I heard this in a networking group that I am in for small businesses called BNI, “its not hunting, its farming and it's a long term play”. That means relationships are everything and they are not developed overnight, they are developed over time. And that is important.
Alessandra Illarramendi: Definitely. In the services area, relationships are the most important thing. What is one common myth in your profession or your field that you wish to debunk?
Scott Jacobs: There is a lot. There is a ton of stuff. I think the one thing out there is that people are busy trying to beat the market and think that's going to actually help them reach their goals and good outcomes. That is not the way and the evidence does not support that. Chasing returns does not get you those outcomes. Stop trying to beat the market, it is all about planning. If you talk with my colleagues, they will say it's all about planning and not predicting.
Alessandra Illarramendi: Perfect. And what is the thing that you like the most about your job?
Scott Jacobs: There is not ever a day where everything is the same. There is a lot of variety and you get to meet some amazing people, families, individuals, small businesses, and I just really love helping all these people and taking things that are very very complex and then making them very very simple. I get a lot of satisfaction because I think I am very relatable to a lot of folks out there and I really enjoy that part of it a lot.
Alessandra Illarramendi: Tell me a story that has touched your heart and how that changed your work.
Scott Jacobs: That is a good question. This happened pretty recently, in the last year, I had a client that I had known for a long long time and a pretty even keeled sort guy and he had a really hard time with COVID, for a number of reasons. And that’s where we have to come in, be compassionate and try to meet them where they are. He is an HR director for a hospital, so COVID hit him at work, and he was watching sickness and death. He had his kids at home having to be homeschooled. He watched his portfolio drop 30% in 28 days and all that being said his kids have college education funds that also got devastated.
I guess I really saw him really go through emotions and, I don’t want to say he blew a gasket, but I saw things that I had never seen before in 15 years.
And this all comes full circle now, which is kind of neat. We just had a conversation recently and he brought up a couple of things that are the most important to him and his wife, and that is having love, having peace of mind, and having financial security. He said “Scott, I am so fortunate to have this with my wife and now we have financial security as well.” It has really come full circle and with COVID, which was traumatic for a lot of people, to be able to hear this from him was really neat because that is what we do. We stick with clients through all the good and bad and help them come out the other side. They need that optimistic guiding light that is so important for the people we work with.
Alessandra Illarramendi: Definitely. I think that 2020 was a year of a lot of challenges, and it is not surprising that you had this experience that has affected the way you work and also inspired you. What advice would you give to someone who is starting to plan their finances?
Scott Jacobs: That's a good one too. I think a part of what you said is if they are planning to start, start, start, start! They say the best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago and the second-best time is today. Start is the big one, get the ball rolling. Most importantly, do not be afraid to ask for help from CPA, state planning attorneys, financial advisors, and planning firms like us. Do not be afraid to ask for help. Don't be in a rush to hire someone, go through a process and hire the right people, at the right time for what is best for you.
Alessandra Illarramendi: Excellent. Are there any specific roadblocks to watch for during 2021?
Scott Jacobs: That's a good one too! There are a few. Taxes are going to be coming up, people should pay close attention to tax law changes. I think things that are going to change in the way that they get paid and reported to the government. I think that the state planning and state tax issues are going to be something else, as well. I think lastly, this is kind of the big one, that a lot of society believes that bonds are safe and conservative and I am under the impression that bonds are not going to be as safe or as conservative as they were in the last 25 years. The rates have come down for 2.5 decades. I think people really need to watch that, that's going to be a really big one that comes up for the next period of time.
Alessandra Illarramendi: Definitely. Thanks for that. How do you think disciplined behaviors can have a long-term impact on a person's life?
Scott Jacobs: That’s a good one. I think better outcomes happen when families don't get caught up in fear like COVID, or a tech bubble, terrorist attack, like 2008, and I think modifying those behaviors so that you are not letting those fight or flight mechanisms take over. On the other side of the equation is the greed factor. People chased BitCoin a couple of years ago, they chased cannabis stocks a couple of years ago, they chased tech stocks in the tech bubble and managing those behaviors, the emotions of fear and greed, really helps create much much better outcomes for the folks we work with.
Working with Mindful Money
Alessandra Illarramendi: Excellent. Now, we are moving to our second topic of the day, working at Mindful Money. How did you become a part of the Mindful Money team?
Scott Jacobs: I have been friends with Jonathan DeYoe since back in ‘99, we worked in Paine Webber obviously a couple of decades back and we have always had these gatherings of two friends talking about our respective businesses. There were things about running a business which I was doing like he was doing and I wasn’t enjoying it: the hiring, the firing, the promoting, the disciplining, the do we have post-its, is our IT working? I just wasn’t enjoying running a company and my best friends love running a company, and had the need for the work I do, as a wealth advisor. So all this finally came to fruition in 2018 and I’m super happy that we made this decision to come together. I have enjoyed it so much and I couldn’t have made a better decision for myself.
Alessandra Illarramendi: What is your current role at Mindful Money?
Scott Jacobs: The title they have for me is wealth advisor. What that really means is that I am helping as an initial interface along with a colleague of mine, Paul Ruben. Either a CPA or Yelp introduces a family or an attorney, or someone we know, a family or an existing client, Paul and I interface with them on that first introductory call. I take them through this process, exploring the fit with us as a firm, them being a fit for us and us being a fit for them. It is really this sort of business development process of anyone that really takes a look at us and we want to take a look at them, I'm involved in most of that process.
Alessandra Illarramendi: What does being mindful of your money or financial plan mean to you?
Scott Jacobs: Again, we don’t do a lot of shooting from the hip. We are very process-driven. We have lots of agendas with specifics of what we are doing. Clients, as they get involved in us, see a real clear path as to how this will all play out, so it is very meticulous and forensic in nature. Like I said, not a lot of shooting from the hip. We don’t know the future, we just know not to be fearful and we encourage clients to not be greedy either and be mindful of those emotions. That’s what I would say.
Alessandra Illarramendi: What is the biggest challenge you have with your specific role right now and how are you going to overcome it?
Scott Jacobs: That's a good one too. My challenge has been off and on for 25 years, since I started doing this for a living. I think one of the biggest challenges for me is reminding myself that we can't help everybody, and not only can we not help everybody but that we are not fit for everybody depending on their values and what they are looking to do, and how they are looking to do it. I just need to remind myself that we can not take everybody on our arc if you will. We have to refer them to other firms that are a better fit for different reasons. We want to help everybody. I have to remind myself that we can’t help everybody. That is my biggest challenge, that I keep reminding myself. Makes sense?
Alessandra Illarramendi: Yes, totally. How do you continue to learn in order to stay on top of things in your role?
Scott Jacobs: That's a good one too. A lot of reading. I'm an Audible/audio guy. A lot of Audible, books, blogs, news flow, podcasts. I love podcasts. Even though CNBC I would submit to you has become TMZ for our industry, because they are out there saying a hundred million things that are confusing, I have to listen to hear what our clients are listening to. I tune in there. I’m going for a credential called AIF in development and me and Jonathan talked about Berkeley having some estate planning extension courses that I will be taking in 2021. These are some of the things I do.
Alessandra Illarramendi: That's excellent because there is a lot of misinformation out there that people can get confused with. And with that, we finished our round of questions. Big thanks to Scott for joining us today and for sharing his expertise.
Scott Jacobs: Thank you. Sounds great!
Alessandra Illarramendi: We hope to see you soon so you can meet our next guest. And remember to stop predicting, start planning, and stay mindful.
Scott emphasizes the importance of being mindful of emotions such as fear and greed during financial planning. Mindfulness allows us to understand that we do not know the future and should not be eager to “beat the market,” but instead focus on how these behaviors can affect our personal lives and financial security.
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