You can learn a lot about a person by the stuff they keep on their desk. Recently, we met with Sean Condon, a wealth adviser at Windgate Wealth Management, to find out who he is and how he leads — through the items on his desk.
1. Numbers game. Finance is complicated, but Condon has a rule to make sure he counsels clients properly. “If I can’t explain my advice to clients in one calculation on a calculator,” he said, “I haven’t done my job.”
Confession: Condon uses a modern calculator, not this 80s clunker. But when we found it in a supply closet, we couldn't resist.
2. Near and dear. “Family is everything,” said Condon. With his wife, he has a girl, 2, and two boys, 8 and 5 — one of whom has a strong Lego game. This Lego car transforms into a pencil holder. Genius.
3. Change gears. Some people use their exercise time to think through strategic problems. Not Condon. No thanks. When he bikes to work, he disconnects and de-stresses.
4. Talking is overrated. “The power of listening can’t be understated,” said Condon. He wears this tie to meetings that require him to listen more than he talks. It features the vintage RCA dog, tilting his ear toward an old-fashioned Victrola.
5. Stay the course. Did you know that literally anyone can call themselves a wealth adviser? A Certified Financial Planner designation denotes a high degree of expertise and training. CFPs also have a fiduciary duty to serve in their clients’ best interests. For Condon, a CFP, that pledge is his true north.
6. On lockdown. “Keeping my clients' data safe and secure is one of the most important promises I make to clients," he said. "I take it very seriously.”
7. What a stud. Radio broadcaster Studs Terkel collected the stories of everyday Americans in oral histories such as “Working.” In that 1974 compilation, people spoke about work, life and their dreams. "Terkel's work helped me understand the kind of wealth adviser I wanted to be," he said. "It’s not about the money — it’s about the people.”
8. The love of pod. Condon is a podcast junkie: Financial Advisor Success is a staple among his peers. The quirkier Animal Spirits examines markets, life and investing.
9. Grapes of math. Windgate sent bottles of this vintage to clients as gifts. It was a gracious gesture on its own — but it had a message, too, as Windgate had invested in the vineyard.
"Even though investing can feel abstract, it’s very concrete," said Condon. "When we sent this bottle of wine, we wanted to show that investing is about owning a tangible slice of the economy.”
Or maybe a sip of the economy?