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posted: 12/4/2022 1:00 AM

Coffee Break: Jim Uren, Phase 3 Advisory Services

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  • Jim Uren

    Jim Uren


Jim Uren

Financial Adviser and Vice President of Operations

Phase 3 Advisory Services, Ltd.

1110 W. Lake-Cook Road, Suite 265 Buffalo Grove, IL 60089

(847) 520-5545


Industry: Financial Services

Number of employees: 7

Age: 49

Family information: Jim and his wife, Jennifer, have five children: Emma (22), Micah (19), Samantha (14), Wayne (7) and Malayiah (6).

Q: Describe your company?

A: Phase 3 Advisory Services, Ltd., is a wealth management company, which is another way to say that we are a full-service, financial planning firm.

Basically, I work with people who are looking for someone who can help them solve their financial puzzles. They have some retirement savings, but they're concerned it's not enough. They're worried that they pay too much in taxes or that they don't have the right investment mix. So they come to me to put together a financial action plan that helps solve these puzzles in a way that fits their unique life goals and values.

Our company's approach to helping solve these puzzles focuses on a few key areas. Firstly, the client's life goals are the foundation of every piece of advice. Secondly, we emphasize cost-efficient and tax-smart investments. And thirdly, we have a detailed service and review schedule so that each client is confident that we are always being thorough.

Q: Do you plan to hire any additional staff or make any significant capital investments in your company in the next year?

A: Yes, we plan to do both. Like the rest of our industry, we have seen an increase in demand for our services. So we plan to recruit at least one additional adviser this year. We will also continue to invest heavily in smart technology. Our investment in technology has helped us serve our clients more efficiently while at the same time offering them additional services.

Q: What will your company's main challenge be in the next year?

A: In addition to keeping up with demand, our biggest challenge is helping clients navigate all of the uncertainty in the markets and the economy. People are worried about the housing market, rising interest rates, volatility in their investment portfolios and inflamed political passions here and abroad.

They have to make decisions today about a future with lots of uncertainty and risks. We have to help them navigate these decisions, help reduce risk where possible and help them identify opportunities where they exist. In a world like ours that changes so rapidly, this is always one of our biggest challenges.

Thankfully, our nation has survived situations far worse in the past and we have learned a great deal about how the markets and the economy can weather these storms. This knowledge and proven financial principles can be powerful tools in helping prepare for whatever economic weather we may experience.

Q: What's the hottest trend in your industry?

A: There are a number of trends that we are seeing in our industry lately. However, the one that comes to mind is the explosion in the number and type of financial and insurance products. This trend is both a blessing and a curse for consumers.

The blessing is that there are products available now that we didn't have even a couple of years ago that have the potential to be a real help to our clients and the American consumer. As advisers, it has been great having some of these new tools in our tool chest.

The curse is that it is harder for consumers to understand these new products and make wise decisions. We are already seeing new clients come to us having purchased financial and insurance products that were not a good fit for them.

Q: If you had one tip to give to a rookie executive, what would it be?

A: Be humble. Whether managing a company or an investment portfolio, things don't always go your way.

In my industry I've seen pride cause a lot of damage. I've seen a lot of money lost because someone (often other professionals) thought they could pick better stocks or time the market better than everyone else.

You need to diversify and have other options if things don't go according to plan.

Q: Do you have a business mantra?

A: "Hope for the best, but be prepared for the worst." That is what financial planning is all about. We work toward exciting goals and fun lifestyles, but we also need to be prepared for the curveballs that life sometimes throws us.

Q: From a business outlook, whom do you look up to?

A: I look up to author and speaker Patrick Lencioni. I've probably read more of his books on being a leader than anyone else. He is both wise and practical. A combination lacking in too many experts.

Q: What is one interesting fact about you or your company that most people may not know?

A: In addition to my professional training as a financial adviser, I have a master's degree in counseling psychology. This unique educational background has really helped me better serve my clients in difficult transitions.

For example, I work with a lot of individuals after the death of a spouse. I'm able to provide them with financial guidance without the awkwardness they often feel in their other professional relationships.

Q: Was there a moment in your career that didn't go as well as you had planned? What lesson did you learn from it?

A: When I first started in this business over 20 years ago, I accepted most of the industry propaganda that my job was to try and sell financial products. Unfortunately, I learned pretty quickly that I'm not very good at selling. It's just not who I am.

However, I soon learned that most people are not looking for financial product sales pitches. Rather, they want someone who can provide education and advice so that they can make better decisions. Thankfully, I have a passion for learning and love to teach others. So once I learned to be myself and focus on education, my career took off.

Q: What do you like to do in your free time?

A: My family and I are very involved in our church and that is where we spend a lot of our time. We also enjoy true crime shows and watching old movies. And I also try and play pickleball at least twice a week.

Q: What book is on your nightstand?

A: Gentle and Lowly by Dane Ortlund.

Q: What keeps you up at night?

A: Surprisingly, I don't worry too much about business or the markets. Probably like most people, I worry most about my kids and the personal challenges facing my family, friends and clients. Bear markets are stressful but are nothing compared to watching someone facing a cancer diagnosis or losing a loved one.

Q: If you were not doing this job, what do you think you would be doing?

A: I like to think that I'd be a professional comedian, but my kids tell me I should keep my day job.

Q: What was your first paying job?

A: When I was 16 I got my first job at a grocery store where I bagged groceries and stocked shelves. That job taught me the value of a hard-earned dollar and the importance of serving others.

Q: If you could put your company name on a sports venue, which one would you choose?

A: The Naples Pickleball Center in Naples, Florida. It's the largest pickleball venue in the world.

Q: Two people to follow on Twitter and why?

A: Larry Swedroe (@larryswedroe) who is one of the best financial educators I know.

The Rational Reminder Podcast (@rationalremind) which, though out of Canada, is in my opinion the best financial podcast for those who want to keep up on the latest academic research in the financial markets.