Venturi Viewpoints discusses the intersection of life, wealth, and wisdom, interviewing a variety of contributors. We hope you enjoy this installment featuring a member of our Oklahoma City office, Joey Sager.
What was your path in becoming a Financial Advisor?
I studied Business Management in college. After seeing a program on the stock market, my interest in wealth management was piqued. Following graduation, I had the opportunity to join Merrill Lynch.
After more than 30 years with large brokerage firms, I came to realize that if I wanted to serve clients with the care they deserved, I needed to pivot to the fiduciary model. Venturi Private Wealth was a good fit, allowing me to focus exclusively on the needs of my clients. I had always prided myself on being the type of Advisor who served my clients’ interests first. Venturi provided me with the formal structure to embody that commitment.
You serve a number of business owners. As a business owner yourself, do you have any words of wisdom to share?
I believe strongly in the value of learning from others. Sometimes, it is difficult to anticipate the challenges of running your own business. If you can glean insights from other business owners, either through reading or through conversation, you can sometimes sidestep problems or capitalize on opportunities that others have encountered.
It’s important to recognize how much we can learn from each other, framing others’ wisdom to our own context. In this way, we act “as a student – not just a follower”—a precept I aim to follow. I am an avid reader—both of print and audiobooks—so I try to learn from others’ experiences as much as possible—not only business books, but biographies, parenting books, as well as spiritual and religious works.
Are there books you would recommend?
For me, the best source of wisdom for life’s issues is the Bible; I read some portion of scripture every day. Other books I recommend include The Life You’ve Always Wanted, by John Ortberg and Boundaries by John Townsend.
For donors, I recommend When Helping Hurts, by Steve Corbett and Brian Fikkert, and Toxic Charity by Robert Lupton. For businesspeople, I like The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni and Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business by Gino Wickman.
I once attended a conference where a speaker recommended creating a family book list—50 or so titles that can provide a foundation for shared values and knowledge. My children are young, so it will be some time before they tackle some of the works on our list, but my wife and I have enjoyed the process; we have identified 33 books so far.
As a family, we’ve also really enjoyed watching the video series The Kindness Diaries, about a man who travels the world on a yellow sidecar motorcycle without any money, getting by on the kindness of strangers. We’ve cried watching some of the outstanding acts of kindness that the show reveals.
If you could inspire your readers to take one action about their financial lives, large or small, what would it be?
Establish an objective and dynamic plan that measures ongoing progress. The plan should capture what is important: What is your money supposed to accomplish? How does it serve and inform your family values? How do you want to be remembered by your children and grandchildren? Ideally, money should serve as a tool to accomplish a person’s goals and objectives, rather than an end unto itself. Money can enable people to live out their deeper purpose, which can be very satisfying and inspiring to others.
I’d also like to see people actively involving their family members in creating and refining their plan, so that the family is equipped to function—smoothly and harmoniously—when the architect of the plan can no longer oversee the plan directly.
If you had a magic wand and could change something about the wealth management industry, what would it be?
I would like to see greater transparency in terms of fees, potential conflicts of interest, and advisor incentives. Many people want to be careful and deliberate stewards of their wealth, but they are either unaware of the questions they should ask or are deluged by so much detail that the key issues become obscured.
When I speak with clients about the meaning and obligations of a fiduciary, I can see that the distinction begins to take on real meaning for themselves and their families. The root of fiduciary – the Latin “fidere,” to trust—strikes at the heart of the distinction. A fiduciary is legally obliged to pursue a client’s best interests. A broker or registered representative, on the other hand, has to engage in activities that are merely “suitable.”
You are involved in a number of charitable activities, both domestically and internationally. How do you allocate your time and money?
For me, giving is a family activity. My family and I look for organizations that clearly define how they measure their effectiveness. We like to see objective metrics, when possible, particularly regarding the impact of our involvement. And we look for sustainability, preferring to make capital investments that serve as seed funding for a person’s livelihood, thereby benefitting his or her wider community.
We’re involved in a range of projects, from healthcare and education initiatives in Oklahoma City, to business infrastructure projects in Nicaragua and Costa Rica. One activity has helped us give more meaningfully: we have written down priorities and objectives for our giving. That process has really helped us be more intentional with our time and our money. By having these criteria pinned down, we can identify the organizations that align with our criteria, while gently redirecting those that do not.
You are a parent. How are you cultivating sound financial habits in your children?
My children are young, so my wife and I try to engage in age-appropriate discussions about money and possessions. We also try to give our children hands-on practice with saving, spending, and giving. As a family, we interact with people from all kinds of socioeconomic levels, so our children see that there is much more to people than their material wealth. We also focus on living gratefully, counting our blessings aloud as we take a walk together every morning. Finally, we rely on trusted friends and advisors to alert us to our own blind spots, in our efforts to avoid entitlement or ingratitude.
Do you have words to live by?
Yes: When you can choose between short-term pain or long-term pain, always choose short-term pain. Jim Rohn, the renowned author and speaker, reflected that we all live with one of two kinds of pain: the pain of discipline or the pain of regret. It’s better to surrender to the short-term pain of discipline.
When we get in a situation that doesn’t feel right, whether it’s a work situation, a family situation, or another type of issue, we tend to put off dealing with it. However, we need to get in there and take the appropriate steps.
You are a licensed airplane and helicopter pilot. Are there any parallels between those activities and your work as a Financial Advisor?
More than you might think: As an aviator, you plan your flight carefully before you take off, knowing that many things will change shortly after take-off. You make adjustments along the way, as you monitor progress and receive new information. You keep your priorities in mind, which are to arrive safely, on time, and with as comfortable a ride as possible—in that order. Much of your skill as a pilot will be judged by the smoothness of the landing.
The families I serve will likely recognize parallels between that narrative and their own wealth management journeys. It is my pleasure, and that of my wider team, to support them in pursuing the life they envision for themselves and the people they cherish.
Venturi Private Wealth
Venturi’s core mission is to help organize, plan, and manage all aspects of wealth for families and entrepreneurs with substantial assets so they can focus on their personal and professional priorities. We manage more than $1.25 billion in assets, a significant portion in-house, often eliminating additional layers of management fees. Founded in Austin, Texas, we incorporate the city’s entrepreneurial energy into everything we do.
For more information, you can reach Joey directly at firstname.lastname@example.org or 405-254-3750