Evan Harp: When and how did your practice begin?
Jesus Lopez: In the year 2000. That’s when I started. I used to work for IBM as a financial analyst and I really hated corporate. [Harp Laughs.] I was given the opportunity to grow to become a financial advisor at American Express back then. And I took it. I left the corporate world, a job that was paying me $47,000 a year for a job that was going to pay me $18,000 draw.
Harp: That’s quite like a leap of faith. It seems to have worked out!
Lopez: Yeah, it did actually work out. It takes a lot of hard work, but yeah, it was totally a leap of faith. I was tired of the corporate world and meetings that didn’t make any sense and stuff like that. My personality is not fit for that.
The Investment Philosophy of Jesus Lopez
Harp: Makes a lot of sense to me. So what is your investment philosophy?
Lopez: To make money, always. [Harp and Lopez laugh.] No, honestly through the 23 years I’ve been doing this, it has been to listen to the clients – to what they want, what their timeframes are, what their risk tolerance is, and then just find the products that are going to fit into their criteria.
A couple of years after I started my business, I became a franchisee owner with Ameriprise. So I was independent, and I have been independent pretty much all my career. And that has enabled me to really choose the investments I think make sense and not have to listen to management. I’ve been fortunate enough to be able to be objective and be able to provide the clients with the investment that they need based on their risk tolerance, timeframes, and stuff like that. So I think I’ve been lucky that way.
Obstacles in the Industry
Harp: That’s an excellent answer. What is the biggest obstacle you had to overcome and how did you do it?
Lopez: I’m still overcoming the biggest obstacle – which is to be a Latino in this industry. I was born and raised in Cuba, I came to America in 1993. I didn’t know any English, you can tell by my accent. That’s a challenge. This industry is primarily driven by Anglo men. Either being a Latino or a woman in this industry is very difficult. Nobody gave me the opportunities that were given to other advisors. In fact, I remember, my friends that were in the same group as me, they were the predominant ethnicity that works in this industry. They were given a client with $500,000 while I was given a client with $2,000. That’s a very different opportunity. That has been my biggest challenge in this industry – to have to prove myself all the time. And I still have to do it.
Looking Into the Crystal Ball
Harp: That makes a lot of sense given that this industry is, as you said, majority white and male. For my next question, our conference, Exchange, is slated for February 11 through 14th. What do you think the biggest financial news story in the market will be at that time?
Lopez: I think we will start to see the impact of the increase in interest rates on the consumer. It’s been happening, but there was so much money out there – and there’s still so much money out there, including the COVID stipends, that’s still trickling down.
But I think by the time the conference will take place next year, the consumer is going to be impacted. They’re not going to have the ability to refinance their house, they are not going to have the ability to get a loan at a decent rate. The cost of money for corporations is going to be higher – it’s getting higher. All of that is going to trickle down to the economy and I think that coming into February, when we have the conference, people will be feeling it. I’m sure that most money managers and other attendees will be talking about that, and how that impacts the decisions that they make, including hiring.
The Financial Advisor Who Inspires Jesus Lopez
Harp: I think that prediction makes a lot of sense. The last question is a fun one, who is another financial advisor that inspires you and why?
Lopez: When I started the business, I had a very good friend who is still in this industry. I saw him, and how he did things. He’s successful. So, I tried to be around him, and he actually mentored me. His name is Steve Gross. We used to work together at Ameriprise and he’s now an advisor with Raymond James. He helped me out in a lot of ways and a lot of the things I do even today are based on things that I learned many years ago from him.
Harp: Thanks so much for joining us, looking forward to catching up at Exchange!
Lopez: You guys put up a terrific conference. I attended the last two years and I don’t have exposure to a lot of these ETFs and a lot of these innovative products that you guys bring to the conference, and I learned a lot both years. I always come away with one or two new ideas, sometimes many ideas, and I implement them during the year and it’s great.
Harp: Thank you! That means a lot to hear.
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