Northern Nevada Business Weekly: Tell us about American Wealth Management and the duties of your position.
Laif Meidell: American Wealth Management is a registered investment advisor with Heidi Foster, Pat Meidell and myself as the financial advisors along with eight support staff. I’ve been the president for nearly five years. I’m fortunate to have a team of employees who, on average, have been with our company for a very long time. Four employees have been with us for over 15 years, one has been with us for 19 years and another for 21 years. We provide comprehensive financial planning, and we are also a nationally recognized money management firm with our own unique investment strategies designed to protect our client’s assets during protracted market declines. In 2011 we were invited to launch an exchange traded fund through AdvisorShares using one of our proprietary tactical strategies. The fund is called Meidell Tactical Advantage and trades under the ticker symbol MATH on the New York Stock Exchange. We are also affiliated with an independent broker dealer, Foothill Securities, Inc., so that we can offer a comprehensive range of financial solutions beyond money management to our clients.
NNBW: How did you get into this profession?
Meidell: In 1995 my mother’s business partner wanted to retire, so she called me and asked me if I’d like a career change. I was serving as a captain and helicopter gunship pilot in the Army and had to decide what the next 20 years of my life would look like for me and my family. I had been on active duty for six years at that point, and I enjoyed it, but I decided it was more important that my children grow up with a sense of community like I had than to pursue a military career.
NNBW: What’s the most important thing you have learned in your career that helps you better assist your clients?
Meidell: Being humble is paramount. When it comes to investing no one knows with any surety what tomorrow will bring, so it’s important to remain humble and observe what’s going on around you. It’s also an important part of listening and helping people solve real financial problems.
NNBW: What do you like most about working in financial planning?
Meidell: Helping people have greater confidence and peace of mind about their financial future through our financial planning and investment process.
NNBW: What’s the most challenging aspect of your job?
Meidell: Like every financial advisor we’re tasked with bringing together an unpredictable investment world with the real financial needs of individuals. This includes working with people’s hopes and fears as we try to get from point A to point B. The financial markets are challenging, but if it was easy it wouldn’t be any fun.
NNBW: As the regional and national economy continues to improve, what new strategies are you putting into play with your clients?
Meidell: Over the past five years the U.S. economic recovery has been fueled by economic stimulus, so the question on many people’s mind is how long the stock market can continue higher before the next major correction. One thing our company brings to the table is the ability to be adaptive to the markets using our mathematical models. For example, our strategy steered our tactical portfolios away from underperforming areas of the market this year such as foreign and emerging market stocks and commodities. We don’t need to guess what’s going to happen next year, we just have to identify what is happening and adjust to it.
NNBW: Have any advice for someone who wants to enter your profession?
Meidell: Find a mentor.
NNBW: What do you consider to be your biggest professional accomplishment?
Meidell: For me, once a goal has been reached it becomes commonplace. I am just proud that I get to come to work each day and work for a lot of wonderful people and for the trust they have placed in our company.
NNBW: What was your first job?
Meidell: I mowed a lot of lawns for neighbors as a teenager and took care of their homes when they went on vacation.
NNBW: What’s your dream job, and why aren’t you working it?
Meidell: I don’t know much about dream jobs, but I had a client tell me once that I was exactly where I was supposed to be. I feel like that.
NNBW: How do you spend your time away from work?
Meidell: I’m an assistant track coach at Damonte Ranch High School. I coach about 20 athletes a year in the discus and shot put. I also serve on the board of directors for the Nevada Area Council, Boy Scouts of America. I like shooting sports, but I don’t do them as often as I would like.
NNBW: If you could live your life over again that would make a difference in your career, what one thing would you change?
Meidell: I would probably work for a major investment company as an analyst. I think it would have speeded up my learning curve.
NNBW: What did you dream of becoming when you were a kid?
Meidell: An Olympic athlete in the discus.
NNBW: If you had enough money to retire right now, would you? Why or why not?
Meidell: I don’t see retirement in my future, and since we are living longer, I am not convinced that it’s right for everyone. My father is 80 and still teaches algebra part time at a junior college and walks three miles a day.
NNBW: What’s your idea of the perfect vacation?
Meidell: I have always thought visiting the mountain temples of Tibet would a treat.
NNBW: Why did you choose a career in northern Nevada? What do you like most about working/living here?
Meidell: I guess you could say that family brought me to northern Nevada and family has kept me here. I grew up in a little town next to the Pacific Ocean, but the mountains and the four seasons of northern Nevada speak to me in a way that the ocean never did.