Jared O'Neal

Financial Advisor

Tell us about your childhood? I was born in Biloxi, MS at Biloxi Regional which was haunted. I call Gautier, MS my home; which is home to the “Singing River”. Gautier didn’t have a high school back then so I went to Pascagoula High School. The Pascagoula River was home to the UFO abduction in 1973. So needless to say, I’m “spiritual”. 

I enjoyed sports and thought (when I was a kid) I would be retired from the NBA at this point in my life. Turns out, I was nowhere near good enough to play in the NBA. My step-dad, who played minor league hockey, pushed me to stick with golf. But like most kids, I didn’t listen to him. After high school, I was accepted to LSU but the out of state tuition forced me into a last minute decision to go to Southern Miss in Hattiesburg and majored in Business Administration. 

What about family life? Well, like many people, I grew up in a broken home. But I had great parents all around and consider myself lucky enough to have had two dads. Nowadays we’re all spread out and unfortunately one of my parents isn’t with us any longer. My daughter, Stella, attends Destin Elementary School and keeps me on my toes. She has also brought a whole new meaning to my life. She’s the athlete in the household. I have a wonderful step-daughter who is entering those dreaded teenage years and goes to the Ballet Academie in Fort Walton Beach. Keli, my wife, is a realtor in the area. And last but not least, our dog Maui, a chocolate lab, brings a whole new dynamic to this puzzle. I’ve learned a LOT during my lifetime about many different family mixes and feel I can relate to just about everyone. 

Why did you become a financial advisor? I really enjoy helping others. I know this sounds cliché but it’s true. As I’ve helped clients plan for their kids to go to college and for themselves to retire, it’s really brought satisfaction to what I do. I guess you could call it how I define success. I also enjoy numbers and wanted a career which offered a somewhat flexible schedule to allow for me to be engaged with my children’s life. This career is one of the few that allows all of that.

What made you pursue the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certification? This is something that is regarded as the highest designation a financial advisor can hold. I’m proud to have earned it on my first attempt, in less than a year. The education, and continuing education, is much tougher than the other licensing exams I took and has taught me so much more. In my opinion, if you are going to have a financial advisor, you should hire the one that has been put through the ringer as far as education goes and is held to the highest ethical standards. You shouldn’t hire a general practitioner to do specialized work. 

What about the “other” designations? I finished the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst™ designation in 2019 as I learned a lot going through my own divorce. Most importantly, people don’t really think rationally during that time. My parents have all been divorced several times too. So while I don’t recommend divorce if it can be avoided, I do want to be a resource for those folks going through it. I got through not only as a child, several times I might add, but also as a parent and a spouse. It’s not fun for anyone. So why not try to make it as equitable as possible so everyone can move on? 

You’ve been with Raymond James since 2006. Why? While working in the home office in St. Petersburg, it was normal to see Tom James walking through the halls during lunch hours with his tennis attire and racquet in-hand. I’ve also had conversations with him about playing guitar. He’s a heck of a musician. Many of their leaders are “real” people, people I’ve gotten to know well over the years, and people I trust. This is a firm that treats their employees and their clients as people. It’s a different culture than the typical “Corporate America”. While Raymond James is a for-profit company, they also do what is right for the client. I’ve experienced that first-hand with a client that I have today. I’ve been doing this since 2002 and have never experienced anything like it. I plan to retire in 27 years and hope to retire with Raymond James. 

What brought you to the Panhandle of Florida? Like most, vacations are what brought me down here. The Panhandle has a lot to offer from Pensacola all the way to Tallahassee. Not to mention the most beautiful beaches and best fishing in the world. There are really good people here too. Down-home people. People that still look after their neighbor. It’s a great place for kids to grow up. 

Do you do any volunteer work? Yes, I’ve spent the last several years coaching soccer in both Destin & in Tampa. I enjoy watching children develop and soccer is something that I wish I had played as a child. I also serve as a Trustee for the City of Destin’s Fire Department’s Retirement Board. First responders and teachers are vital to a community’s success so I’m doing what I can to help out in these areas. You’ll also find me volunteering at school events when I can.

Quickly, name the following:

  • Favorite Restaurant: There’s too many to specify just one. We’ve got some great places along the Panhandle. 
  • Favorite Hangout: The Boathouse in Destin, great mix of locals, tourists, music, food. Though the Craft Bar isn’t far behind. You’ll also find me at Lulu’s quite a bit with my kids and other friends.
  • Hobbies: Golf, Guitar, exercise (trying), and Coaching.
  • Favorite Sports Teams:
    • NFL – Saints
    • MLB – Have to pull for the underdog, the Rays. 
    • NBA – The Underdog in the Playoffs
    • NHL – Tampa Bay Lightning (go to an NHL game if you haven’t been)
    • College Football – SEC schools and Southern Miss. You’ll find me pulling for LSU and the Noles too. I like what Dabo has done over at Clemson. 
  • Comfort Food: Ribeye Steak, Potatoes, Salad and Ice Cream makes me pretty happy.
  • Interests: Music, craft beer, and DIY projects.

Ideal Client: People I get along with. I’m looking to build my business around people that I mesh well with. If you feel we would get along based on what you’ve read, let’s talk. I do not have a minimum asset size requirement.

Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner,  CFP Logo Flame Design and  CFP Logo Plaque Design in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.

Raymond James is not affiliated with the above organizations and/or charitable causes.