Ignite your spark within

Sometimes it takes inspiration to fuel your fire when looking to improve your life or make the most of what you have. We believe that getting excited about all your money can do for you is what makes you a better planner and decision maker in regard to your finances. As the stewards of your financial life, we wanted to share thoughts and ideas that brighten our light within to help do the same for you.

I have spent some time recently in reflection and thankfulness. This reflection was triggered by the calendar, in that the marking of time, in a way, forced me to become aware of the passing of a significant number of days, or years, from the beginning of something special.

Anniversaries.

They come, and they go, and then they come again (hopefully). Some are celebrated more than others, but they help us to do just that… celebrate, and remember.

On July 10th, I celebrated 1 year since I moved my practice to Raymond James, starting Beacon Hill Wealth Services. As you might imagine (and as my dear clients experienced in part with me), it was a lot of hard work. When life is busy in these sorts of times, it seems to pass even more hastily. Such is the case here, as a year has never seemed to come and go so fast! But, what a wonderful year it was! So many terrific things have happened for my clients as a result of gaining the flexibility and resources of my new home, and that has given me tremendous fulfillment. Thank you all for your contribution to an amazing 1st year, and here’s looking forward to celebrating many, many more of those anniversaries!

On August 4th, Marie and I celebrated our 15th year of marriage. August also marked 20 years that we have known each other, and been together. It is a wonderful thing to account that this means I have known my Bride for 56% of my life, now! When we were engaged, my grandparents (Maw Maw and Paw Paw), generously offered us Delta Airlines miles and Marriott rewards points so that we could pick out our Honeymoon destination. We were bright-eyed 20 and 21 year olds and nothing in the world seemed more fantastic than Hawaii - and so Maui was our choice. We spent a magical week on that enchanting island paradise. On the last day, eating our breakfast on the lanai, Marie said to me, “Do think we will ever get to do this again?” It was simultaneously a rhetorical question - a hope, doubt, and prayer - in one. So, imagine our thrill to be able to return to that same island, in fact, the very same hotel, fifteen years later, to celebrate our Anniversary! And, this time, we had 2 more in tow, as McKinley and Delaney joined us. We will never forget the joy and memories created in sharing our initial honeymoon joy and memories, with our girls. By the end, walking along the beach-side path on our way back from a late night dinner, they were both exclaiming, “When I spend my honeymoon in Maui…!!!” Pure Bliss.

Yes, anniversaries, of all kinds, are special. We live in a culture that is frenzied, hurried and distracted - almost by design. It is right, and healthy, and good, to take time to be still, to breathe, to remember, and to celebrate. This is what anniversaries are all about. And I, for one, am thankful for them.

We were solidly in hour number two of a meeting that probably should have been no more than ninety minutes. I was getting mentally tired, as I’m sure my guests were, as well.

I forged ahead, nevertheless, doing as I was trained (I thought), and gathering as much detailed financial information about the hopeful pre-retired couple in front of me as possible. Question after question – followed by answer after answer that never really approached the depth I would ultimately need anyway.

Looking back, I laugh now, because a casual observer to that event could have made a decent argument that I was using some form of nasty interrogation technique, designed to wear my party down to the point of absolute financial surrender! I was young, new in my career, and of course, eager to please and succeed. I didn’t know any other way than what I thought was the way – ask, ask, and ask some more – just keep asking to get all the informations.

Then it happened …

I guess you could say it became an epiphany, of sorts – or, at least I’m glad it impacted me as such.

The Gentleman in the seat before me, almost in the middle of one of my next questions (maybe it was – “So, are you sure that you don’t have an old CD at the bank or anything like that? …”), frustrated, I’m sure, leaned back in his chair and said,

“Brandon, you know what we really care about? … We want to retire to live in Mexico, and be able to run a bed and breakfast on the beach. That’s all we want to know, is … Can we do that?”

Beach House in Mexico

It hit me in a revelatory way then, has since shaped the way that I practice my craft, and has stuck with me as a guiding principle ever since. It all shifted on that conversation, that way-too-long meeting, and that wonderful phrase. I didn’t even end up gaining a client relationship with that couple (I’m sure they found someone who showed them what they were after, without the tired interrogation, lol), but I did, thankfully, gain a perspective on my business that formed a strong sense of value and purpose.

I realized that everybody has a Beach House in Mexico. No, not everybody has that specific goal, but everybody does have something that drives them, something that gives them purpose, a value system with which they think and move and operate and make decisions – a dream, vision or goal. For this couple, running a bed and breakfast on a beach in Mexico was their “Why?,” and all else in their financial life (and perhaps even more – in their life, overall) was being driven by, and hopefully moving toward, this.

After that meeting I changed. I continued to ask questions, sure. And I still needed to ask some common or expected financial questions, too. But, I began to ask questions in such a way as to help others understand, and articulate their “Why?,” their purpose, their value.

I started to try to uncover the Beach House in Mexico in every person I met with.

To me, wealth management and financial planning is not primarily about just making money, having a great portfolio, investment performance or beating a certain index. Sure, those things may have their place. But, the very best investment strategy with the best returns is ultimately meaningless if it is not intimately connected to a person, a face, a dream, a vision – if it is not intimately informed by, and moving toward a Bigger Picture “Why?” … a person’s unique Beach House in Mexico. Consequently, I am convicted that if I can share in this understanding of the Beach House in Mexico for my clients, and form the basis of our planning and stewardship around that big idea, then the investment conversation and strategy are given space to ultimately be far more meaningful in real ways that matter.

Ultimately, I am very thankful for the gift that this experience was to me, and has been for my career, and my clients. It has helped me to help hundreds of families over the years identify, connect with, and create a stewardship principle around, their own Beach House in Mexico. We all have one, it is deep within, and it may very well be the key to a rewarding purpose in a financial planning partnership.

What is your Beach House in Mexico?


Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire.

W.B. Yeats