More Than Just an Advisor: An Interview with Holden Gully
Sometimes the unexpected plans are the ones we were meant for all along. Holden Gully has been a financial advisor for OneAscent Wealth since January of 2021. While his passion for serving clients and creating values-based investing strategies is something that everyone on our team shares, his journey to OneAscent Wealth is a unique one.
We interviewed Holden to learn more about what spurred this passion and what he loves most about his job!
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The Importance of Community
Holden was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. He grew up playing sports and found passion in football and swimming. But for Holden, it wasn’t only about winning. He says, “I loved the community that sports brought me. Being around friends and sharing this common bond through sports was always big for me.”
While sports were a big part of Holden’s life, it was far from the most important.
A Wake-Up Call
In high school, things changed for Holden. In his sophomore year, his mom was diagnosed with breast cancer. It was unexpected and frightening. For Holden, it was a wake-up call that life isn’t promised to us.
“It shook our family. It made me question if there was more to life. For so many people, life can be centered around their work, school, sports, or kids. These are all good things, but it made me change my perspective.”
Shortly after, Holden stopped playing sports after his junior year. He still enjoyed it, but it didn’t hold the same value for him as it did for others. His mind was already set on other things.
Finding Purpose in Changed Plans
During spring break of his junior year, Holden was able to go on a trip to serve the community in Cape Town, South Africa. Although he was only there for a few days, something stuck with Holden about the trip. After returning home, Holden reached out about a six-week mission trip to work in the local nonprofit during the summer. Since he was still a junior, they suggested he wait until after his senior year.
This opportunity was always in the back of his head, but Holden decided to go to Alabama to study journalism. He had picked roommates, enrolled in the communications department, and was everything but packed up and out the door before he got called in another direction.
“When there was about one semester left in my senior year of high school, I had some friends tell me about the gap year they were going to take in England. I had never considered that. And not long after that, I had made my decision. I told my parents I was going back to South Africa.”
Holden spent the next few months preparing for a six-month trip to South Africa to work with local organizations and serve the community. “My parents were on board, but I had to make it happen on my own. I was young, but with a commitment like that, I had to take responsibility and ownership. I wanted to do something more than the typical route. I was curious, ‘What else is out there?’ In my six months in South Africa, I learned more about how the world works. I saw hurt. I saw hope. And I learned that there is such a need for people to serve. Not just going for a week, but true investment into communities and lives.”
This desire to invest in others would play a significant role in the next several years of Holden’s life.
A Passion for Others
After returning home, Holden went back to school with a new goal in mind: major in international business, find his area of interest and expertise, and then return overseas to help start up small businesses. As he progressed through school, he felt another calling to get established and build a career, using what he had learned and the opportunities he had been blessed with.
“I talked with several financial advisors to get a better idea of what that could look like for me. I was always interested in the relational side of business, and I loved the idea of using that to serve people and build real relationships with clients. Money is a very personal thing for people, and I wanted to honor that. I set a high bar for myself in character, I wanted to carry myself well and be a trustworthy partner for clients.”
Finding Peace in Changed Plans
In his senior year, Holden had accepted a paid internship with a financial advising firm in Birmingham. A week before he started, the company called him and told him that due to some significant internal changes, they wouldn’t be able to take on an intern. It was devastating, especially since this company had guaranteed a job after the completion of the internship. But Holden was determined, and confident that something else was out there.
“I probably talked to 20 advisors around town. I ended up taking a position with a company that worked out of Nashville. I chose this one because, out of all the advisors I talked to, they seemed different. The team was composed mostly of believers and dedicated men and women who have built successful businesses. I trusted them, they were committed to serving people well, and had a proven track record of training younger advisors. It was less about ‘what can you do for us’ and more about setting up new advisors for success.”
Five years later, Holden would find himself walking through the doors of OneAscent Wealth. Holden was friends with Cole Pearson from high school, and Harry had expressed interest in Holden coming to work for OneAscent Wealth. After talking, Harry offered Holden a job. Two days later, Holden turned it down as he was on the road from Nashville to Birmingham. Harry suggested that Holden stop by the office on Friday morning so they could talk.
That talk changed everything for Holden. In the midst of a stressful decision, he found peace. He saw a difference in OneAscent. It was more than just financial planning. At OneAscent, the mission focused on helping educate people on the impact of the investments they own. It was a purpose beyond “how much risk we take in our accounts” or “planning for a financially independent life”. Those are all noble things, but the purpose was bigger.
“Many advisors have the same pitch for what they do and what they offer. At OneAscent Wealth, the emphasis is on the client and the relationship. I really believe that what we offer and how we interact with clients is invaluable, and it’s not something that many other firms value in the same way.”
A Passion for Mentorship
The support and mentorship Holden found in his first job is something that he is passionate about for OneAscent Wealth.
“Because it really meant a lot to me, I want to establish a similar mentorship philosophy. I see that as something in OneAscent Wealth’s future, and I have gotten a ton of supportive feedback on it. It’s not something that we can — or want — to develop overnight, but we have been talking about what we envision for this program and how we can best structure it so we can invest in other young men and women.”
More Than Just an Advisor
When most people are looking for an advisor they think of investment strategy and fees. They look for trust and competency. At OneAscent Wealth, you can be confident you are getting an advisor who is knowledgeable, strong in character, and committed to their values.
“I love the opportunity to get deep with clients. We talk about their family history, how they view money, what their financial situation looks like, it’s not just surface level. It’s intentional and relational.”
At OneAscent Wealth, our goal is to get at the heart of what people are dealing with, and help them in an intentional, important, and tangible way.
“I am also drawn to the analytical side, it’s often like solving a puzzle, taking a client’s situation and finding the solution. Several weeks ago an individual came to me and said he wanted values-based investing, and that’s it. He didn’t want to pay the fee, he wasn’t interested in our typical client partnership, he just wanted his investments to align with certain values. We took his finances, and found one opportunity after the other to make strategic and beneficial changes. Later, he comes back to tell us that we had done more for him in the past three weeks than his previous advisor had done in a decade-long relationship. It was encouraging to hear, because we were just serving him in the way we knew best.”
OneAscent Wealth knows that everyone has values, and they matter. That’s what we have built our business model around. How do we not only help clients with finances, but pioneer a movement where clients truly understand what they are invested in. It’s a shift from quantity to quality.
“I met with some clients earlier this year and we went through an exercise we call “Honest Conversations”, a series of cards with phrases that help them identify what matters most to them. As we were going through this, the wife started crying. Both were working hard and doing well financially, but she was feeling guilty because she felt like she didn’t have enough time to clean, cook, and spend time with the kids. We talked about something as simple as having someone come in and clean the house a few times a week, or choosing a food delivery service for dinners on busy nights. This changed their whole mindset. She was able to express something that was on her heart, and together we found a solution that was reasonable and provided peace. The solution was utilizing their money to be more intentional with their time and family in their present-day situation.”
For Holden, it’s not how important money is, but how important stewardship is. It may be a long time before we can change how the world views and values money, but for Holden, his desire is to serve others within his job now.
Working With OneAscent Wealth
If you want to work with an advisor that values your client experience, schedule a consultation today! Whether you are interested in a personal financial plan, estate planning, a strategy for a church, or other area of interest our team would love to tell you more about how you can prosper while living aligned with your values.
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