Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about Sage Financial Advisors and the duties of your position.
Brian Loy: We founded this company in 1996 when I bought out my former employer. My mom always said that in Chinese luck always comes in threes, so you better have three good things when you think of the word “Sage.” A sage person is wise, sagebrush is a resilient plant that lives in good places and bad, sage also is a little bit of fun: Sage fly rods. We work for about 150 clients, mostly families and successful people. I love what I do because it is about solving puzzles. Foremost I am a thought leader for the company. That involves helping direct investment strategies, meeting with client to understand their goals, solving problems and hand holding when the spaghetti hits the fan, and working with my brilliant partner Kristin Griffin, who is in charge of investing and client relations.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Loy: I once wanted to be a dentist. I realized my junior year in college that I didn’t want to be around sick people. I just lucked into this career. We impart financial wellness, and ironically a lot of our clients are healthcare professionals.
NNBW: Since founding Sage Financial Advisors in the 1990s to where you sit today, what’s the most important thing you have learned to help you be successful in managing your clients?
Loy: Two things: One is that they are not our clients — they can leave us at any moment. You have got to recognize that this is about them. Tied into that is that we are dealing with people’s futures, so it has to do a lot with trust. That is something so hard to build but so easily pierced, so we look for what can we do to always maintain their confidence.
NNBW: What were the main pressures you faced during the Great Recession, and how did you overcome them?
Loy: People ask me if I want to be 40 again, and I say, “No, I just want the last six years back.” A lot of lessons were learned. One was to help people have two sets of goals: What they need to have to maintain their security, and what would be nice to have. In the old days we focused on what would be nice to have. You have to be able to tell people that their bigger goal of sending their kids or grandkids to private college may be beyond reach, but they can still get them through public university. The other thing, since we work with so many business owners, was to help give them confidence in why they are saving money and to help them build a pension plan that will generate cash flow that will outlive their lives.
NNBW: Where there other strategies that you put into play during the past five years that really tested your insight, intuition and understanding of the financial world?
Loy: Yes, and it is testing us right now. The old way that we used to manage money was to ride out these bumps. It’s kind of like four-wheel driving on a bumpy road. Your tires fall into a gully, you slow down, and when you get to the bottom of the hole you goose the engine and climb right out. Beginning in 2008, we looked for smarter ways to not fall into the ditch as much. We used some alternative investment strategies in the portfolio, and it’s testing us right now because people are seeing the stock market up 28 percent and they are wondering why they are just steadily chugging along at Steady Eddie. A diversified strategy tests people because they forget the risk the stock market has and wonder why they aren’t up 28 percent.
NNBW: How have the gains in 2013 on Wall Street impacted your business?
Loy: It has been very favorable — people feel a lot more comfortable when they see their account statements going up. It’s called the Wealth Effect.
NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to enter your profession?
Loy: This is a fabulous career opportunity for young people. There is a lot of pressure — people are looking for financial security, and it’s not getting any easier. It is a great opportunity for people who want to educate and help other people and who like investing.
NNBW: What’s the most fun you have had on the job?
Loy: There is a lot of satisfaction in what we do. When someone says thank you for taking good care of us and my family, that’s very rewarding. When the financial crisis hit, a weird message was that a couple clients said, “Brian, we know you aren’t one of those bad guys on Wall Street. Thank you.”
NNBW: What was your first job?
Loy: Mowing lawns in Carson City. I got 50 cents a lawn.
NNBW: What is your dream job?
Loy: It would have to be around fishing. Probably chasing tuna in Baja, Mexico.
NNBW: What are your favorite hobbies or pastimes? How do you spend your time away from work?
Loy: Fishing, abalone diving, working in my backyard and traveling with my family.
NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?
Loy: A fireman, and I wanted to be a doctor or dentist.
NNBW: If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Why or why not?
Loy: I would love to, but I love what I do. If I hit the big lottery I still would go back to work.
NNBW: What’s the last concert or sporting event you attended?
Loy: A basketball game at Gonzaga University.
NNBW: If you could hang on to just one memory and have it remain as fresh as the day it happened, what would that be?
Loy: The day my one and only kid was born. Babies change your life.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working/living here?
Loy: My wife Georgia and I had been living in the Bay Area since 1975. In ’92 I surprised my wife and asked her about moving back to Reno. She thought maybe we would get to Placerville or Auburn. We came back here to raise a family. This area is so beautiful, and it is conducive to a lot of fun outdoor recreation. We love this place. I am a poster child for that bumper sticker.