Tom Powell is a Senior Lead Advisor for OneAscent Wealth with 32 years of experience helping families plan and build a lasting family legacy with community impact. Hear from Tom as he shares his story and passions and imparts advice to those considering their legacy.
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Leaving Corporate America
I had to make some career choices very early in my life, so I chose to major in computer science and math and then went to work in the corporate world as a software engineer. I quickly realized that I didn’t like “corporate America” because most people in this world made business decisions for the wrong reasons. They were more interested in advancing their own careers than they were in serving their customers, something I knew should be the focus of any business.
In the early 80s, I began building algorithms and managing portfolios for five people while I was still working in the corporate world. When I was about 28 years old, I told my wife, “Six months from today, I’m out of here. I’m going to start a business.”
Six months later, I started an investment advisory firm and a few years later, I started a third-party administration firm for retirement plans. I ran these businesses with my business partner for about 30 years. I helped clients plan for retirement, build their legacy, establish succession plans, and provide for their families.
“What’s Your Plan?”
One day I was talking to one of my clients who had been with me for 27 years, a man I love and respect very much. I had helped this client and his family build a family office structure, manage their business, and transfer this business to the next generation. He kindly told me that I had done a phenomenal job building his legacy plan, down to even the smallest details.
Then he said something that left me shocked and speechless, like I had been hit in the head with a 2×4. He said, “Hey Tom, what’s your plan for when you get old like me?”
Ouch. With a simple question, he made me realize I had a gap that needed to be filled.
We had made commitments to almost 200 families over the years. If the Lord took me home that day, how would they be taken care of?
Joining OneAscent Wealth
Around this time, my business partner was getting ready to retire, so we sold the retirement plan administration firm, but we were still running the investment management firm.
One day, I was talking to Harry about business, and he observed that our firms were using similar technology and the same tools to do the same type of investing and financial planning, but if we joined together, we could be paying one bill instead of two. I agreed and shortly after I joined OneAscent Wealth as a Senior Lead Advisor.
I brought my clients with me, and it was a good transition. In the past we tried to align client investments with client’s core values but the values-based investment methodology was much more well defined and developed at OneAscent and now there was a bigger team with more bandwidth to meet client needs. This enabled us to serve our clients even more effectively.
Treating Others to “Draw Out Their Very Best”
There’s something my father once told me that has shaped how I do life and business. Both of my grandfathers were “fixers.” One was a dairy farmer and had an incredible work ethic. If something broke, he didn’t buy a new one; he fixed it. The other was a carpenter and plumber, and he fixed up a lot of antique furniture. I spent a lot of time with both of them and adopted this problem-solving mentality to life. For example, I did my own oil changes until I was in my 30s, a decision that was clearly based on my upbringing.
My father’s first career was in quality control at a paper conversion company, and he hated it. So, he decided to quit that job and become a teacher and a coach. He spent the rest of his life pouring into young people. All he cared about was impacting others, particularly the next generation. One thing he said that I’ll never forget was, “Son, you can’t treat everyone the same way. We must treat everyone the way they need to be treated to draw out their absolute best. For example, if you’re dealing with a bully, stop him because he can do better. If you’re dealing with the one being bullied, protect him because you can do better.”
These words have made a tremendous impact on me over the years and reminded me that I may be wired to do the math, solve the problem, and fix what needs to be fixed, but all that is useless if what I’m doing isn’t helping someone else become who they need to be.
If I can be useful and help a retiree have money show up in their mailbox so they don’t have to worry, or help a young person find their way to college or trade school and find their passion, then that’s good. That’s enough. The positive impact on them is all that matters.
Building Your Legacy
I am especially passionate about working with clients who want to know more about building their legacy. I work with a lot of entrepreneurs and business owners who wake up one day and think, “Wow, God has blessed us with all these resources. What do I do now?”
When they come to me with that question, the first thing I always ask is, “What are 5 things that are important to you?” We then discuss how to take their values and encourage that passion in the next generation.
When the clients express what matters most to them, I’ll ask them, “Does your family know that’s why you did this? If God put something on your heart and you worked hard for it, it’s important to let your family know.”
Sometimes the next generation’s passion isn’t your passion. That’s alright. It’s our job to find out what it is because one of the worst things you can do for your legacy is hand your children or grandchildren a bunch of money and say, “good luck.”
What is God’s calling on your life? What’s your “why”? What do you want your family to remember about you long-term?
If you know or don’t your answers to these questions or are unsure of your next step, we’d love to walk through this with you!
Working With OneAscent Wealth
I want every person who walks through our doors to know that they are valuable, that their questions are worthy of being asked, and if we don’t know the answer, we will do everything in our power to find it.
Whether you’re just getting started in your financial journey or considering the legacy you want to leave, we’d love to talk! Reach out to us here to schedule a consultation.
To set up a meeting with Tom concerning this article, contact him here.