Rocket Man in Service to Others
Many Financial advisors have the drive to succeed, but lack the wisdom to harness their energy and benefit others. Not Joshua Mellberg, owner of J.D. Mellberg Financial of Tucson, Arizona. Since starting his own firm in 2004, he has rocketed to success, but has stayed grounded in helping clients achieve safe, secure retirements. We don’t use the word “rocket” lightly. As a high school freshman, Mellberg had 27 lawn-care accounts, serviced by a riding mower he bought with his own money. While a student at Western Michigan University, he ran an online collectibles business that covered his tuition. In his last year, however, he was $15,000 short, so he ran four construction crews that built lofts for college dorm rooms. He earned the money he needed and graduated with no student loans. An Ethical Dilemma After graduating in 2003 with a degree in business management, Mellberg found himself looking for work in a down economy. Rather than bemoan his fate, he filled out 140 applications, went to 12 interviews, and received four offers. He ended up joining a trust company. In his first year as a trust advisor, he logged 1,400 miles a week on his car and worked on 800 trust accounts, before crashing into his first ethical dilemma. Mellberg realized not everyone who was sold a trust actually needed a trust. “They could have achieved the same results at a lower cost,” he says, which lead him to join a captive insurance company, selling annuities. “In my first year, I did over $4 million in investments,” he explains. As Mellberg gained experience at that company, he again found himself lacking the right solutions for his clients. He needed a broader product portfolio, which he could get only by going into business for himself. J.D. Mellberg Financial is a leading financial advisory firm serving Arizona retirees. Mellberg and his staff of 17 provide asset preservation solutions, along with income, tax, and estate planning. Mellberg is still soaring at quantum speed, conducting more than 1,500 client meetings a year. Even though Mellberg has quickly proven to himself and others that he can fly with the best, he has not lost sight of the real people behind the numbers. “I want to make a big impact on people’s lives for the right reason,” he admits. How? By focusing like a laser on learning and establishing a true business that excels at client service.
A Passion for Learning
“My biggest passion is for learning,” says Mellberg. “Once I learn something, I can’t wait to share it with my clients and my team.” Mellberg says he flies out once a month to pick the brains of top advisors around the country. He considers these individuals to be his mentors and takes their advice seriously. He also hired an executive business coach, who helps him with the intricacies of establishing and running a true business. When it comes to sharing his knowledge, Mellberg is extremely generous. He helps clients understand their retirement options and risk tolerance. Then he provides guidance on which insurance and investment options make the most sense. Unlike some advisors, Mellberg encourages clients to take full responsibility for their decisions, not just rely on their advisor’s expertise. “I act as a coach,” he says, “but the onus is on them to make sure they know how their plan works.” The key here is to make sure clients not only understand vehicles they have purchased, but also the terms of those vehicles. Educating himself and his clients is just the beginning. Mellberg has trained hundreds of advisors nationally. “Education is the key. With it, advisors empower clients to make sound choices,” Mellberg says. “Sharing my experience and knowledge with other advisors is more than improving client service. It’s about creating opportunities, gaining trust, and above all, doing the right thing for our clients.” Mellberg’s goal: to develop a firm that is heavy on client communication, transparency, and service, even when he’s not around. To achieve that requires hiring a robust team of talented individuals. Mellberg currently employs an operations manager, a marketing team, full-time client service representatives, a full-time securities researcher, a broker who executes trades, and several new-business processors. “No way could I do what I do without having great people supporting me.”