He’s always been a team player. In fact, Jason Pace was a star tailback at the Naval Academy, leading the team in rushing in 1991. So did exploits on the gridiron help him become a Financial Advisor today? An FA partner of the RM Compass Group at Morgan Stanley Smith Barney in Atlanta, Jason tells us how being a team player helped him reach great heights not just on the football field, but also in the world of finance.How did you end up being a financial advisor?I went to school at the Naval Academy, studying engineering and playing football. After five years in the Navy, I decided to be an engineer. My first job was with Goodyear Tire in Lawton, OK. Honestly, I didn’t enjoy my time there and realized I had to find another opportunity. A good buddy of mine from school who was with Merrill Lynch at the time, suggested I try getting into finance. It was 1997 and the market was going through the roof. He said it’s a great career and I had always been interested in investing and wealth planning, but never really knew how to get into the business. So what did you do from there?After talking to my buddy, I planned to interview with Merrill Lynch. But I found an opportunity at Robinson Humphrey in Atlanta where I wanted to live and the Merrill Lynch opportunity was in DC. So I had an interview with Robinson Humphrey and wound up getting a job here.What was it like transitioning from engineering into financial services?It was tough. Up to that point, I was very team oriented, whether it was playing sports at the high school or college level, or even going in the Naval Academy or being in the military or even my first job at Goodyear. I was used to having people around me all working together for a common goal. But that transition to becoming a sole practitioner as a young financial advisor was tough, because you’re on an island. Even though you’ve got a branch manager and a sales manager, it’s still up to you to make the phone calls and bring in business. It was a tough adjustment for me.Obviously it all went well. What were your early keys to success?One of the keys was actually joining a team after a year and a half on my own. The first thing my senior partner told me to do was go get my CFP certification (Certified Financial Planner). So that was something that was integral in helping me understand what the business is really about from a financial planning perspective.What do you find most satisfying about being a financial advisor? Anything about this career you’re pleased about?This may be a little cliché, but it’s really all about helping people. A large part of my client base includes professional athletes. Most of these guys are very young and come into a lot of money early on, and they’re often preyed upon by unscrupulous people. I love being able to take them through a process of starting out early in their career while playing, and when football is done, they can lead the lives they want. It’s a very rewarding job -- I just really enjoy being able to help them meet their financial goals.
You have such an interesting client base with well known players in the NFL and the NBA. How did you cultivate your business to reach pro athletes?It started with my partner who brought me on the team. He went to school with someone who became a sports agent and had that part of the practice. And when I joined the team, it wasn’t necessarily to work with the athletes. Initially, it was to work with participants in retirement plans, but the business just evolved and I ended up focusing on that part of the business. They definitely keep me busy, its non-stop and I often get phone calls at all times of the night. Dealing with young people suddenly coming into large amounts of money is a huge challenge. How do you deal with that kind of specialized client to make sure that he invests properly and doesn’t burn through all that money?Most people approach this through an investment standpoint. But for these guys, at the core of it, it’s really about what they spend. And we take a lot of time in our practice helping clients budget and track what they’re spending. If I can keep a guy on a budget and track what he spends and show him how he’s spending, then that can lead into a discussion on investments and what can be done with excess cash, and to make sure that we’re able to replace the income that they’re earning on the field or on the basketball court.What about outside of the office. Do you have time for other activities or hobbies?I’m married with two kids – a 13 year old and a 10 year old. I’ve been actively coaching my boys in football for the last six years, so that’s what I’m usually doing – coaching kids in the Fall and going to basketball and lacrosse in the winter and spring.If one or both of your boys said “Dad, I’d like to be a financial advisor like you,” what would be your advice?That would be interesting. I think my oldest son has identified a little bit with that. I think you definitely have to have great people skills – being able to interact with people. And you have to want to talk to people and understand what their goals are. But you also have to have a good foundation – obviously in math, and being able to understand wealth planning and those types of things. So this is a career you would recommend?Absolutely. I think this is one of the greatest careers out there. It allows you to earn a good living while doing good for other people. And it also gives you tremendous flexibility. I can go out and coach my son’s football team and I can leave at 5 o’clock on a day if I need to. I can choose when I go out to visit clients and travel, so it gives you the greatest flexibility ever.You started at Robinson Humphrey in 1998. So 14 years in the same organization … with the Morgan Stanley Smith Barney joint venture, things have changed over that time. But the fact you’ve stayed at the same place for so long shows some stability. For someone who is thinking of careers, is Morgan Stanley Smith Barney the right place to be?I certainly think so. The way we like explain this to our clients is that we have this great firm with incredible resources available to us. If you compare us to any other firm on the Street, we probably have the best toolbox to work with. For our clients, we think it’s the best place for us to be, to help our clients manage their assets and to be able to provide services that are second to none.© 2012 Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Member SIPC.
Beginning in June 2009, the Global Wealth Management Group of Morgan Stanley & Co. Incorporated and the Smith Barney division of Citigroup Global Markets Inc. have combined into Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, a new investment adviser and broker-dealer registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
Clients should click here to read the Statement of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC and Morgan Stanley & Co. Responsibilities, which explains the respective roles and functions as between Morgan Stanley & Co. and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. Click here to read the Statement of Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC and Citigroup Global Markets Inc. Responsibilities, which explains the respective roles and functions as between Citigroup Global Markets Inc. and Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC. The foregoing may not apply to in whole or in part to former clients of Smith Barney Australia, Quilter and Morgan Stanley Private Wealth Management. These clients should refer to the written materials they received about their accounts.
© 2012 Morgan Stanley Smith Barney LLC, member SIPC. All rights reserved.