By Scott Hamilton
Everyone has a story about how they came to be the person they are today, what path led them to their current career or their current perspective on life. This is certainly the case for me. My professional background both led me to and shaped my perspective on how I build financial plans for my clients. One of the biggest takeaways I learned from my career is the importance of stories, both my story as the planner and, more importantly, my clients’ stories.
Our unique experiences mold who we are and the values that are important to us. That’s why I believe a fundamental step in understanding my clients is to first understand myself. In light of that realization, I would like to share a bit of my story and the lessons I’ve learned, so that you may be inspired to share yours.
Lesson #1: Asset Allocation & Diversification
I began my career after graduating from Texas State University with a Bachelor in Business Administration in finance. I started out at the Fortune 500 company Exxon at their downtown Houston headquarters. My initial position was as a Revenue Accountant. This role quickly evolved into a Product Manager for an internal Royalties Payments System during the 5 years that I worked there. I gained a solid foundation in financial management, but my time working for Exxon also showed me firsthand the risk associated with over-investing in one type of asset class. It was common to see people who were heavily concentrated in oil and gas investments. Their portfolios often came with very lucrative profits, but they also tended to swing wildly. Disastrous losses were just as common.
Because of this, I learned to recognize the importance of proper asset allocation and diversification in order to protect against downside risk, helping to avoid having all of your eggs in one basket, so to speak. Diversification can’t guarantee a minimum level of return, but it will at least act as a buffer against the inherent volatility of the market, especially the oil and gas market. Diversification can be achieved through an asset allocation strategy that considers which components of your plan can move together and which can act as a hedge against market fluctuations.
Lesson #2: Setting & Managing Expectations
After Exxon, I completed my MBA and accepted a senior position with Keane, Inc., a national consulting firm with more than 10,000 employees. In this role, I joined a small three-person team that provided management consulting services for Fortune 500 companies. We were typically hired by the client firm’s board and worked with the senior leadership team. A great growth and learning experience for me, this role allowed me to interface with both my firm’s senior management as well as our client firms’ top leadership. My primary takeaway was a new focus on setting and managing expectations.
During this time my future wife, Gayle, was hired by Dell, and together we moved from Boston (Keane’s headquarters) to Austin, Texas (Dell’s headquarters), where I worked remotely. This move served two purposes: a) Dell moved us down for Gayle’s new job, b) my father, who had been diagnosed with Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, was being treated at MD Anderson in Houston, and I was the primary care manager. Since my consulting role required extensive travel, it didn’t matter where we lived as long as we were near an airport.
In 1997, Gayle and I got married and purchased a home in Austin. Kids were not far off in our future. After about five years of this full-time travel, I was finally tempted by a more traditional role at a local firm. I took my next position at Dell.
Lesson #3: Leveraging Technology & Client Advocacy
In my next position as a Dell product manager in Austin, my role was to help my business clients align their goals, budget, and prioritization of planned technology deliverables. Setting and managing expectations was key, as was learning to leverage technology to solve business issues.
My experience at Dell directly helps me run Hamilton Financial Planning as those key lessons apply to both my firm and clients. Leveraging technology allows us to scale cost-efficiently, better serve client needs, and focus on cybersecurity for my firm as well as our clients.
The statistics surrounding cybercrime are staggering and I credit my time at Dell for opening my eyes to this issue. Consider the following:
- 47% of Americans experienced some form of financial identity theft in 2020. (1)
- Internet crime increased 69% from 2019 to 2020. (2)
- Total losses due to internet crime increased 20% in 2020. (3)
With technology playing an ever bigger role in our lives, protecting your sensitive information and valuable digital assets is more important than ever. That’s why I’m passionate about educating and informing my clients about the role that cybersecurity should play in their overall financial plan.
Lesson #4: Emergency Funding & Trusted Financial Partners
I was still working for Dell when the 2008 Great Recession hit. Like many others, I was laid off and felt like the rug had been pulled out from under me. Left feeling rudderless and shocked by what was happening in the financial and housing industries, I decided to take the corporate financial management skills I’d gained from Exxon and Dell and turn to personal financial management.
I went back to school to earn my CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification and started my own business, Hamilton Financial Planning. Though the experience was difficult and filled with uncertainty, the Great Recession taught me the importance of having an adequate emergency fund and also having a trusted financial partner. Too many families lost their livelihoods and were led astray due to the questionable business practices carried about by financial professionals who were not looking out for their best interests.
It is my goal now to provide comprehensive wealth management, helping both individuals and families achieve their most important financial goals—always with the expectation that we will work together with their best interests in mind.
How I Can Help
The lessons I’ve learned haven’t always been easy, but they have shaped my career and made me a better wealth manager. I take pride in knowing that I help people keep and protect the money they worked so hard to earn. After 35 years of financial experience and 250 financial plans created, I have the experience to help my clients navigate life’s most important financial decisions. From investment planning to risk management, Hamilton Financial Planning is here for you. If you’d like to learn more about how we can help, schedule a complimentary get-acquainted meeting online or reach out to us at 512-261-0808 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Scott Hamilton is founder and chief financial officer at Hamilton Financial Planning, a wealth management firm that specializes in providing comprehensive financial planning for retirees. With over 20 years of experience in the financial industry, and having completed over 250 financial plans for retirees across all industries, but mostly the oil and gas industry, Scott is passionate about providing his clients with the tools and insight they need to achieve their financial goals. He has a Bachelor of Business Administration in finance from Texas State University and an MBA in international finance from Pepperdine University. Scott has also been happily married to his wife, Gayle, for over 25 years. To learn more about Scott, connect with him on LinkedIn.