Kyle Shelley: The Unconventional Advisor
Kyle Shelley’s path took a more unique route than most financial advisors. The more you talk with him, the more his passion and goals come to light—and that’s having a genuine caring for people who want to make their financial lives not only better, but thrive.
We sat down with Kyle Shelley to get into the nitty-gritty of how his path led him to EdgeRock. It all boils down to making a positive impact and helping people directly.
First things first, what does your job entail at EdgeRock?
My job at EdgeRock is kinda separated into three parts:
- When someone sets up their first meeting with us, I help determine if our team and I can help improve or complete their retirement plan.
- Assist our current clients during their client strategy meetings to make sure their profiles are on track with their retirement goals.
- Lastly, I’m also working on business development so we can scale EdgeRock while enhancing the care and attention our clients receive.
Tell us about your background. How did you end up in finance?
“I actually went the opposite route that people in this industry traditionally do. Usually, advisors start out working for a large firm, then build a book and later coach others from what they’ve learned. I started off by training high-net-worth financial advisors in the (at the time) niche market of estate planning.” A lot of the things Kyle talks about now in regards to estate planning stuff—converting ROTH IRAs, tax planning, trusts, etc.—wasn’t a thing back then. “If you were an advisor, you were more of a salesperson which really turned me off. I wanted to bring more value to clients.”
“That’s when I started my own FinTech company in California. I was still doing financial planning but I was more involved in reducing the cost of college for families while preserving their assets in place. It was very niche. After doing that for five years, I decided I wanted to help clients directly which is how I ended up at EdgeRock.”
What do you like most about this job so far?
“I’m excited about doing more client-facing work. Like any other industry, you can lose fidelity if you don’t have that face-to-face interaction. Little by little it chipped away at me and then all of a sudden I was disheartened. I would teach advisors valuable strategies and most of them—of course not all—would say something, like, ‘Oh, here’s how I can make more money,’ instead of having a mentality, like, ‘this could bring more value to my clients.’ Since I was arms-length away, I couldn’t help the client as much as I wanted to since it was dependent on the character of the advisors.”
However, just last week at EdgeRock, I spent three hours with a client and that felt good. I was able to take complicated concepts and explain them in a way where the clients were capable of making informed decisions about their money and future. It’s giving them that power of knowledge that I really enjoy.
What is the best career lesson you’ve learned?
“It’s iterative. Find that thing you’re really interested in and keep pulling on that thread. For me, I had to come back into this industry. I spent the last year getting licenses and designations since I wanted to go down the advisor path after everyone was telling me, ‘Wait a minute, you’re an entrepreneur and businessman,’ because that’s what my resume was telling them. It’s easy to justify staying on a path if your interests don’t lie there—especially if you’re good at it like I was. I think the best career lesson I’ve learned is really finding your deep interests and pursuing it. It’s OK for a career change.”
What is your biggest achievement to date—personal or professional?
“I think this is ever-evolving. For example, right out of college I took a leap of faith and moved to Georgia to take a VP position of a financial institution even though I was way under-qualified. I was speaking to people who had a lot more experience and credibility and thought, ‘I might fail at this but why not try?’ I was stepping out of my comfort zone. I’m proud of the company I founded out in California but the thing that means the most to me is this transition back into wealth management. After enough time, I finally knew what I wanted to do. Sadly the older you get, society gives you less wiggle room. When you’re 28 you can easily transition into another career but if you’re 38 and making that move, people will start to look at you funny and are ready to say, ‘well, I told you so,’ if you happen to fail. I still believed I could do it and here I am, despite the hurdles it took to transition.”
Before working at EdgeRock, what was the most unusual or interesting job you’ve had?
“My family is in the car business and while assessing a potential buy-out, I was immersed in that world for a few years. I wanted to see if I could shift their antiquated business model. Working there really taught me two things: (1) it gave me enough pain to be, like, ‘this isn’t the industry I want to be in,’ and (2) I have to do work that brings value to clients, not work that’s transactional. I quickly realized that financial success without generating value for others was deeply unfulfilling and didn’t help me grow as a human being. In short, It made me realize what I didn’t want to become.”
What do you like to do when you aren’t working?
Hiking. I’m a big hiker. Anything in the mountains. Crested Butte and Ouray are my absolute favorite place to 4×4 and hike. Actually, before joining EdgeRock, I took my Jeep and traveled around to country to 10 national parks. I went to places like Moab, Utah; Hood River, Oregon; Glacier National Park in Montana … I really enjoyed the Olympic Peninsula in Washington. It was like a rainforest, it’s so lush up there.
What’s a fun fact about you that many people may not know?
“I played professional baseball in Australia—center field. It sounds way more of an accomplishment than it is actually. They’re more into cricket and rugby, so their professional players are more like our D1 school. I had an amazing tryout that day and was signed but never played as well for the rest of the year.” -laughs-
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