Financial Advisor Q&A Series: Craig Lodge, Financial Advisor, Nashville, TN
Craig Lodge left UBS about five years ago in search of a boutique firm that could offer him more flexibility in managing his clients’ long-term financial plans. Lodge makes full use of the B. Riley Financial Platform, pointing his clients in multiple directions given its cross-platform capabilities. The B. Riley Wealth Management (BRWM) team recently spoke with him about what makes him a unique financial advisor, and why he loves what he does.
How did you end up in the wealth management business?
I was a few years out of college, and for most of my life I thought I wanted to be a teacher. I was passionate about helping people, so the teaching aspect of managing clients’ money and showing them what that entails is something I love.
My job is not to make my clients experts, but to put them in the most informed position possible to make good financial decisions. Clients need some level of understanding to have confidence in the decisions they’re making. As such, I enjoy helping them comprehend finance in layman’s terms, and I feel like this is an attribute that has helped me to deepen the relationship I have with my clients.
Talk about your specific role, focus area and what you’re doing on a day to day basis at BRWM
I create financial plans for about 85% of my clients. My goal is to be that one trusted guy they can reach out to, and over time I have become that person for many families. I’m usually their first point of contact before they call their CPAs and attorneys. I feel like I’ve done a good job of gaining my clients’ trust, and that’s why they reach out to me first.
My “specialty area” is helping clients get from “point A” to “point B” financially by creating a comprehensive fiscal roadmap they can follow. The end goal could be several things, like retiring comfortably or putting children through college. Once that goal is determined, my objective is to build that roadmap in the most risk averse, tax-friendly fashion. What I do isn’t only about stocks and trading; I make adjustments for clients along the way as things change and their situation changes.
What do you like most about your job?
I love interacting with my clients and knowing that I play a large role in helping them achieve their long-term financial goals. My business is focused on families, and I enjoy nurturing relationships with them and their children, whom I often end up helping down the road. I derive so much satisfaction in seeing generations and families grow through the years. What’s great about the wealth management business is that you can work in it for as long as you’d like.
What distinguishes BRWM from the competition as a great place to work?
I spend a lot of time focused on how I can best serve my clients and what will work well for them. B. Riley Wealth Management gives me the opportunity to be the type of financial advisor that my clients need, and this is an important point I make during that first meeting. It’s what attracted me to BRWM in the first place. This firm gives me autonomy and doesn’t box me in the way a typical wirehouse might.
What I especially love about BRWM is that it’s so different. I can work with my clients the way I want, which is not the norm at other firms. Upper management is accessible but not controlling. The capabilities we have access to as part of B. Riley Financial are incredible.
What B. Riley Wealth Management tools do you utilize?
We have a proprietary mutual fund and ETF model portfolio managed by our Investment Solutions team, called WISDM. I use that extensively because it gives me an extra fiduciary layer, as I don’t have to pick or choose stocks. The tool allows me to explain to my clients why it makes sense to do things a certain way when the market behaves a certain way.
The B. Riley Financial Platform offers so many opportunities for cross-pollination. As an example, I recently had a client interested in selling a business. We started speaking about business valuation, so I reached out to our senior leadership and was quickly put in touch with a forensic accounting and business valuation team at GlassRatner. I was simultaneously put in touch with an investment banker from B. Riley FBR. The fact that I can converse with a client and have upper management guide me toward a certain path using our in-house platform, within hours of that initial conversation, is amazing. The fact that we have these capabilities in-house and I don’t have to search outside of the firm is remarkable. A large wirehouse could not perform that kind of due diligence so quickly.
What advice would you have for a new FA joining a firm?
I would give the same advice to a financial advisor at any firm: Don’t hesitate to use the resources that are available to you. Often, newer financial advisors fear sounding unintelligent when asking questions. Don’t be afraid to reach out, because your colleagues are willing to help you. Especially at BRWM, we have a ton of resources.
Over the past several years, what, in your opinion, has damaged the financial business the most?
Crises in our industry like the Enron scandal and the 2008 financial meltdown were obviously damaging. The upside of those outcomes, however, is that they serve to emphasize the importance of long-term financial planning strategy. I often advise clients that only a certain percentage of their money should be invested in the market – not all of it.
The television finance networks are another problem. They are designed to entertain, and it freaks people out. Many of my clients watch them, and I often have to advise them to take a step back before they react emotionally and make a rash decision based on that information. What’s happening on television has nothing to do with what will happen in real life.
Are there hobbies or something personal about you that provide resonate discussion points to help you connect with current or prospective clients?
I enjoy spending time with my family and playing tennis. My eldest daughter plays on a tennis team, and I initially took it up to help her practice. Now, my whole family enjoys the sport and it’s a great way for us to spend time together.