James B McLean
MBA, RICP®, CLTC®
Jim reached 30 years of service with Ameriprise on February 20, 2021. He has been married to his wife Townsend for 34 years, and they have three children: Shelby (28), James (25), and Harris (22).
James works in the practice with his dad as a Financial Advisor, and he joined the interview.
Congratulations on 30 years of service. What sticks out to you from that time?
Technology is huge, the changes that have occurred since day one. We had one computer in the breakroom and had to sign up for time to use it. Where we are today compared to back then is just a huge transformation.
In those days, I would talk to anybody to practice my craft. On Saturdays, we had a phone clinic called Dialing for Dollars, where we would dial for four hours straight. It was crazy, but it’s changed a lot. James and i have been working from home since the pandemic, and our clients like it. We’ve been more productive and had a great year last year.
I got into financial advising after working in the restaurant business and in sales when I was on the road all week. I came from a big family and wanted to be home – this career gave me a lot of leeway and the flexibility to be with my family. I coached my kids in basketball, we liked to do family vacations, and I wanted to do something more stable.
You could make as much as you wanted to based on how much time you put into it. I fortunately passed the aptitude test and have been doing it 30 years.
What do you like about what you do?
I like helping my clients identify their goals and craft a plan of action to achieve those goals, whether it’s buying a beach house, helping with grandkids or paying for school. It’s just the satisfaction, getting that recognition of helping clients, and having the freedom to do what I want to do.
What’s it like working with your son/father?
Jim: It’s nice to have somebody else you can talk to and strategize what to do for the day and the week. It’s not just me dealing with it. He’s really comfortable with all the clients. In the beginning, they asked for me and I told him, “You’ll have to earn their confidence.” He’s been able to do that, so I can take more off my plate. It’s been great. I built this and I wanted to have something to pass onto him that he could continue to build for himself.
James: You wouldn’t know this guy manages millions of dollars. His vehicle is 10-11 years old, he wears basketball shorts and a free t-shirt with a printed-on tie. He’ll go out and run 5 miles. When you find the time and make the commitment to do that, it’s pretty neat.
He has literally made his entire career in business about family, so my goal is to give a lot of the time he gave us back to him. He’s a fantastic boss and dad, and the hardest worker I know.
What advice would you give to someone just starting their career in this field?
It’s important to have an idea what you want to do after college, so work as intern in that field during college. Give yourself an edge and get some experience you can put on a resume.
What are your hobbies and interests?
We’re big sports fans and love the Florida Gators, so we’ve been basketball and football season ticket holders for years. We like the beach – my wife and I went to Captiva Island on our honeymoon, and we go back every summer and on fall break. We love fishing when we’re there – we fish the beach, the bridges, and we throw out the casting net too.
From James: My dad was also the basketball coach for our traveling AAU team (growing up). I was the point guard. Our business relationship started back then – the point guard taking orders from the coach.
What purchase of under $100 has most positively impacted your life in the last six months?
We couldn’t pull up a ballgame on tv, so James told me to get a Roku stick. I got one and he talked me through installing it over the phone. We got it set up and were able to watch the ballgame.
What is the book you have given most as a gift (or recommended)? Or what are 1-3 books that have greatly influenced your life?
Smart is the New Rich; Money Guide for Millennials by Christine Romans. I gave this book to each of my kids and to my son-in-law.
What’s the next thing you want to check off your bucket list?
I want to go to Alaska. My wife has wanted to go for years and we’ve been going gangbusters working – we’ve been much more productive this year working virtually and from home. It’s time to go to Alaska. I want to go on land first, and then do a cruise on the sea.
What’s a hidden or unusual talent you have?
I can grow anything in a 4 x 6 garden.
If you could put up a giant billboard with anything on it, what would it say and why?
I have a sign on the wall in my office: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” We tell new clients who have been doing the same thing for so long to let go and let us do our job. It’s not just finance – you have to make adjustments in life with whatever’s coming at you. If you want to stay where you are and stay status quo, do what you’ve been doing. If you want to take that next step, take it with us.
(Bonus question) How has D2 helped you?
Jim: I’d like to thank Jon Randall. I thought we needed help bringing James in, so we’ve tried to do what Jon told us to do, and we’ve grown. I want to give him kudos. We could not have done it without him.
James: Jon has been able to help me understand the ins and outs from the bottom up, and create systems and procedures we didn’t have. I don’t know where we would be without Jon to keep us in line and give us ideas on what to do. His approach and personality are the right fit for us.