Sep 19, 2012
by Marcee Hillman
Navigating the stormy stock market seas and confusing ocean of investment options is all in a day’s work for financial advisor Darren Layne of Edward Jones Investments in Sisters. With the dizzying array of choices with online brokers and e-letter investment gurus out there in the cyber-sphere, it’s nice to be able to sit down with a living, breathing person.
“People want to know how they can meet their life goals, whether it’s balancing work and family or work and leisure and we try to help them meet those goals through careful, detailed planning,” he said.
Based in St. Louis and founded in 1922, Edward Jones is one of the nation’s largest suppliers of financial products for individual investors. With over 11,000 offices in all 50 states, the firm prides itself on sterling customer service and was named the number one full-service brokerage firm in Smart Money magazine’s June 2012 issue. Its loaded inventory of products range from annuities and fixed-income investments to mutual funds and trusts.
Growing up in Sisters and graduating from Oregon State University, Layne originally came from the accounting world, then became a tax auditor for the Oregon Department of Revenue for three years.
“I came into the financial services business when the Department Of Revenue was looking for new office space and an opportunity with A.G. Edwards & Sons came available. I changed careers with a wife and two-year-old son and really didn’t have a good grasp on what the career was. At that time in the late ‘90s it was more of a stockbroker business with stocks and bonds and mutual funds, mainly selling product and now product is pretty much commoditized. The business has changed a lot in the past sixteen years and today we mainly concentrate on financial planning.”
His accounting background tends to make Layne take a more conservative approach when recommending investment vehicles, searching for diversity and fundamentals and companies demonstrating strong financial cores and free cash flow.
“We try to add a little creativity to help people meet their needs,” Layne explained. “We take that holistic approach to investments and try to formulate creative solutions to get people to where they want to be, because really, investing and accounting is boring. Having the ability to do what you want when you want, sending your kids to college, making a major purchase like a home or starting a business can’t be achieved without a smart plan.”
Layne doesn’t like the phrase “retirement” because it tends to conjure up the idea that you’re done.
“There’s a different dynamic and fundamental shift taking place in the last few years that people don’t just quit working on certain day. 65 is still young so we help people define their goals for when they’re done with their primary career. People can start new life adventures at any age, and as an older adult you have this amazing life experience beyond belief. People want to stay engaged and share that knowledge. Most of our clients that are happy in retirement are very active and engaged both physically and mentally.”
Edward Jones’ method is a straightforward matter of finding out where someone is today in their life cycle, where they’d like to be and how they can get there and stay on track.
“One of the hardest things in this industry is keeping people on track,” said Layne. “Life has a lot of distractions.”
“The other thing we do is help people channel their emotions and therefore enable them to meet their financial goals. If we don’t know where we’re going or where we’re at, then market crisis, political crisis or some outside influence will always be pulling us away from meeting those goals. But if we’ve invested time up front and the client puts an effort into figuring out their plan then it’s our job to keep them on target.”
Layne has a disciplined approach and if there’s something outside his expertise, he’ll use money mangers and specialists to accomplish tasks.
“With individual investments we have an in-house inventory we’ll do transactions with but won’t increase it to the point we get lost in our own supply. We have clients who like to pick their own stocks online in addition to what we do with their “life-changing” money, creating a hybrid system.”
Layne feels his time is best spent sitting in front of a client determining their needs and goals rather than looking at the micro details of an investment.
“Growing up in a small town, I like sitting down with people the old-fashioned way,” he said. “90 percent of our business is done face to face and for both parties that engagement is a must. If I can’t see that excited look on your face when you talk about your grandchildren, then I don’t know exactly how important it is to you.”