Based in the very granola surroundings of Eugene, Ore., Mallery stepped aside from a career in publishing to pursue opportunities in insurance and financial planning. But he says that many of the inquisitive and evaluative tools from his days in media help him better serve his clients. He now runs a thriving business.
ASJ: How did you decide to do such a major career change?
SM: I went into journalism full of idealism and truth-seeking, and I initially worked as a technical editor in the pharmaceutical and chemistry field, and later as publisher of my own magazine, serving the craft brewing industry. Someone convinced me that I was the best person to sell ads for the magazine, so that’s where I developed my selling skills. I came at it from the point of independence, and that independence gave me a certain weight. As problems developed in the publishing world, I was looking for something else, so I switched businesses and initially worked as a captive agent with New York Life.
ASJ: When did your role as an independent advisor begin?
I eventually realized I had other options and I launched Mallery Financial as a DBA in 2007, while I was still an agent with NYL - I finally left NYL in June 2010. I went through a six-month immersion in the world of independence, which was kind of like a library research project. I got on mailing lists with IMOs and FMOs and took a lot of webinars, and learned a lot of different tools and strategies. Recently I passed my Series 65 and I’m able to do fee-based planning, and I also got an insurance consulting license from the State of Oregon. That’s allowed me to do consulting with the role of a fiduciary, which I’m hoping will be helpful in the high-net-worth circles – those people have a lot of fears about the motivations of agents, and I think it gives me more credibility and independence. It’s my job to make sure they get the right policy.
ASJ: What’s the selling climate like in a progressive community like Eugene?
It’s certainly a countercultural place with lots of non-profit boards and plenty of cool people without any money, so I don’t have any really easy ins. But I’ve tried to establish credible, trust-based relationships, based on honesty and transparency. I always had to apologize for being overly analytical, but this is actually an asset in this business. There’s not many people in financial planning who can assemble information like a journalist. And the investment I made in my education is restoring my confidence. My wife and I also help out at a local soup kitchen and I’ve been nominated to the board of Food for Lane County, our local food bank.