James Crosson is a registered representative at Lincoln Financial Securities Corp., Member SIPC located at 809 Aquidneck Avenue, Middletown, RI. He is a veteran in the financial services industry with more than 30 years of experience in the field. For about 15 years, James Crosson taught investment courses at the University of Massachusetts, Bristol Community College, and Bridgewater State College, but had to pull back in 2001 due to the demands of his growing list of clients in financial services. He understood back then the importance of a solid grounding in the complex world of finance, and that making informed decisions based on knowledge is always the best way to go. In fact, Jim knows how important these factors are in everyday life.
Jim operates a prestigious financial advisory services company in New England. In his professional capacity there, he focuses on retirement and tax strategies for retirees, business owners, and successful professionals. He has lectured regularly at the University of Massachusetts, Bridgewater State College, and at Bristol Community College. Jim is a past board member of the Gabelli School of Business at Roger Williams University and also a past board member of Investors Capital Corporation, which was a publicly traded company. He has been quoted in The Wall Street Journal, The Financial Times and various other publications.
Where did the idea for your company come from?
Lincoln Financial Securities is the broker dealer we are affiliated with.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
After I come into the office, my first appointment is usually around 10 o’clock in the morning. What we usually end up doing is have clients come in, look over their portfolio, and then answer any questions that they might have. That’s a sort of an annual review and it occurs with all clients on a normal basis. Obviously, though, any clients that might come in during the week with special needs or abnormal questions—we take care of that, as well. When it comes to individual clients, it’s a two-step process of fact-finding and then making recommendations after the fact-finding. Then, of course, whether on the phone or in person, I’m answering clients’ questions throughout the day.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Over the years I have attended over 100 conventions and coaching seminars on how to improve the business and meet my clients’ needs. Ideas for managing client financial portfolios come in many forms. We make sure that they have a liquidity account and that their investments generate enough income to replace their work income, including Social Security and maybe a pension. I make sure they have a proper estate plan in place, which is a huge thing. In some cases, my clients will need long-term care planning, as well. All things considered, I need to make sure they have a financial map in front of them that they’re comfortable following.
And I’m the type of person that will keep after them. I’ll give you an example of a guy that I consulted with for 20 years. He was 80 and he finally got around to doing an estate plan. He thanked me for bugging him all these years because he knows he should have done it. I get people that sometimes will lie to me and say they’ve already done one, but they didn’t do it, and then all hell breaks loose and they’re calling me panicking because a trigger event happened and they didn’t do what I asked them to do. We try to make sure that they get it taken care of and done. It’s a process. Then, if they have any problems other than investments, I can advise them on how best to proceed. Obviously, because of my 35 years of experience in the industry, I’ve basically seen almost everything, so I’m able to tell them what to do based on other people’s experiences.
What’s one trend that excites you?
One trend that has taken hold among clients in my business is they realize how important it has become for them to prepare financially in order to be able to retire with a sustainable lifestyle. Understanding the overall importance of retiring with adequate financial resources is critical. Some of the statistics out there are pretty hideous. Half of the bankruptcies that occur in this country happen to people 65 and over. That’s scary and we want to make sure that clients do the right thing.
Also, a problem that we’ve been encountering over the last seven years or so, is that some clients are playing Santa Claus and helping their kids out to the detriment of their own retirement plans. The line I like to use with clients is that their portfolio was made for two people, not four to six. Unfortunately, I’ve watched some clients spend all their money on their kids and leave nothing for themselves, and then the kid just blows them off. It’s nasty. It’s human nature, I guess. Kids don’t want to change their lifestyle so they go to the Bank of Mom and Dad. Our job is to make sure that they keep their treasure chest intact as long as they can because they don’t know how long they’re going to survive.
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
I work hard to maintain a healthy work/life balance and having some down time does help me to be more productive during work time.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Make sure you take the time to research important moves on your road map to success.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Fully fund your retirement plan at work before you make any other outside investments.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Make sure you are keeping up with new information by reading more and watching less television.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
I always treat my clients with respect and help them to navigate through life’s trials and tribulations. I think doing that has resulted in a certain loyalty to me, as well as to Lincoln Financial Securities.
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
In the beginning, I tried to do too many things myself. Learning how to delegate was an incredibly important step in helping the business grow. So, instead of micromanaging my business, I had to let go of my need for total control and integrate other people into the business with me just to get it where it needed to go. Hiring capable assistants was one of the major things that allowed me to be able to focus more on my clients versus say, clerical work, which I shouldn’t be doing, anyhow. Back then, there was a book that I read called The E Myth by Michael E. Gerber that was an eye-opener for me and helped me come around on all these concepts and embrace them.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I would say that vocational education, whether it be in electrical, plumbing, or carpentry, will be needed to fill the gap created by large numbers of people retiring in these trades in the near future. I think it would be very smart to start a business in one of those areas.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I make that amount in donations to my church. No matter what your religious beliefs are, you need to give back to those less fortunate.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive?
Zerohedge.com is one of the best sites for keeping up to date on any type of business. I find it to be the most educational website available at the current time, with great content.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
The Enlightened Gardener by Sydney Banks is a short book on life in general rather than business. I found it quite enlightening in a number of ways.
What is your favorite quote?
“Treat others how you want to be treated.”
• Retiring with a sustainable lifestyle is possible as long as you start early and stick with a plan
• Focusing on your clients in this business is critical in a world that has seemed to lose its focus on what’s truly important.
• Clients will rely on their financial advisor for more than just investment advice.
Steve (Stefan) Junge hails from Germany and helps with the day-to-day publishing of interviews on IdeaMensch. While he and Mario don’t share a favorite soccer club, their enthusiasm to help entrepreneurs is a shared passion.