Jim Senior: More than a Financial Planner

On the top floor of the Roselli Building, a can’t-miss six-story turquoise midcentury structure on Federal Highway, is the Edward Jones office where Oakland Park resident James “Jim” Senior is the financial advisor. With the help of senior branch office administrator Colleen Gratz, Jim welcomes clients and prospective clients and speaks over the phone with many more.

A Client-Centered Approach

Jim says, “Our clients’ interests come first always. We are here to serve clients and help them achieve their goals.” How does he, and Edward Jones, accomplish that? Jim says, “We vet other companies’ financial products and then partner with those firms that we determine have the best, most suitable products for our clients. We also use a planning tool to pull all the pieces of their financial puzzle together and project our clients’ cash-flow needs over the course of their lifetimes, including the retirement years”.

A Diverse Client Base

Jim works with individuals, families, and businesses. “We have many retirees, single women, and younger people. Our practice has amazing diversity. This was intentional on our part. By listening to our clients and prospects, we have come to discover the breadth and depth of knowledge that can be applied by serving people with unique needs. A strategy we put in place for a single man may be appropriate also for individuals within a family or employees in a company.”

Not a Stockbroker

“The real beauty here at Edward Jones is that we do not have a minimum amount of assets that clients need to already have in order for us to work with them,” Jim says. “We can work with whomever we believe we can help.” He adds, “We want long-term relationships with our clients, their families, and their friends. Stockbrokers tend to be more transactional in nature. And we work with a variety of funds rather than with individual stocks.”

A Varied Career Path

After a bachelor’s degree from Ohio University and a master’s from Thomas Jefferson University, both in business, Jim began working in banking as a corporate and institutional lender. After a dozen years, his interests took him to healthcare investment banking. Six years later, he switched to financial planning, working for Bank of New York Mellon and Wells Fargo Private Bank, before opening his branch practice with Edward Jones ten years ago.

The change was deliberate and satisfying. He says, “I decided I wanted to help people achieve their financial goals by educating them on all the opportunities that are out there just waiting and that may make a difference in their lives. We help our clients navigate what can be a strange, worrisome world and map out—and stay on—their own glide path, that mix of asset allocation based on a target date. Helping clients change their fleeting daydreams into true goals and aspirations through preparing and planning is the satisfaction I get from my work. There is nothing like the feeling of giving a client an answer to their question, ‘Can I really retire?'”.

Not for Everyone

As is the case with any financial services company, sometimes there isn’t a fit with a prospective client. Jim explains, “If, after analyzing a prospective client’s situation and goals, we cannot deliver products, services, or performance that is above what risk tolerance will allow, we step away. Also, we have had situations—not many, thank goodness—where folks we want to help cannot reconcile their spending with their income and are not open to serious analysis and recommendations. These are beneficial conversations because we know we have provided a clear mirror for them to look authentically at their situation and become aware that they can make changes to help reach their goals.”

No Cookie Cutter

Everybody’s portfolio looks different. Jim says: “For example, we work with Environmental, Social, and Corporate Governance (‘ESG’) investments that refer to the three central factors in measuring the sustainability and societal impact of an investment in a company or business. We find that clients stay engaged and feel better because they have meshed their money with their values.”

Beyond the Office Door

Jim Senior’s impulses to help and educate have led him to memberships on the boards of the Business Professional Group (Fort Lauderdale’s oldest professional networking group), the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum Advisory, the Gay & Lesbian Business Exchange of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, the Uptown Council for the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, and the Fort Lauderdale Gay & Lesbian Chamber of Commerce. He is also a member of the Wilton Manors Business Association and a Founder of the Pride Center in Wilton Manors.

Despite his busy schedule, Jim isn’t all business. He is a great animal lover with four dogs that no doubt benefit from his enthusiasm, empathy, and helpfulness.

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*LivingInOaklandPark.com is an independent publication, not affiliated with the City of Oakland Park.

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