When Jeff Troll’s father passed away in 2002, he knew his mother would need help managing her finances. Unfortunately, when he tried to find her a qualified advisor, he hit a wall. Some of the candidates had no background in investing, while others were simply not up for the task. “One guy told me he could manage her money so that she would run out when she turned 84,” he remembers. “I asked him what she would do if she lived longer than that, and he said, ‘I don’t know.’”
As an experienced Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), Jeff knew he could do better himself. In addition, his accounting background from his years as a practicing Certified Public Accountant (CPA) was immensely beneficial in financial planning. “Spending years in public accounting gave me a core understanding of how the tax system works. Every planning issue comes back in some way to income taxes.”
He pursued and received a Certified Financial Planning Certificate (CFP®), and then began searching for a good place to work. “I was looking for a group I would give my money to myself. I wanted a company that offered comprehensive financial advice, that managed investments actively, and that provided financial planning but didn’t sell insurance or other products.” He found that firm in Pinnacle Advisory Group, and began work there in January of 2005.
While Jeff had always imagined he’d be an accountant, he found he preferred planning’s proactive approach. As a wealth manager, he is able to work with his clients to build their futures. “This is an interactive process. It’s like a big decision tree — when your client makes a choice, it takes you to your next step. So answer leads to answer.”
That’s not to say that he approaches clients in the same way. “Every case is unique. While they may be similar to other situations you’ve encountered in the past, that doesn’t mean they will necessarily have the same result. The key to every financial plan is identifying the client’s core issues — everyone has at least one or two. Those are the areas where you need to focus your attention.”
In Jeff’s experience, new clients are often surprised by the benefits they receive from the planning process. “Most people come to Pinnacle for the investment advice, but it turns out that they get the most day-to-day benefit from the financial planning. Insurance planning, tax recommendations, planning for college, estate planning — these are the things they didn’t expect to be so valuable.”
For many of his clients, Jeff is more than just the person who takes care of their money — he has become an informal life advisor. “We become great sounding boards for people. We’re knowledgeable confidantes who can give them objective advice. They can call about anything — financial or not — and receive impartial advice that they just can’t get from their friends and family members.”
Everything he does, from the financial plans he creates to the wisdom he doles out, is informed by the Golden Rule: “I try to treat everyone as if they were part of my family, and I make decisions with that in mind.”