Tounderstand just how immediate Andrew Hunt’s impact in the financial services industry was, consider he was recognized as a Midlands Business Journal 40 Under 40 honoree in 2012 and nearly a decade later, he’s still well under the age cap for that award.
But for as much of a 20-something-year old whiz as he was back then, cutting his teeth for Guiderock Capital Management, time has only ripened his expertise and effectiveness in his chosen field. Now a partner in his own firm, Hiley Hunt Wealth Management, he leverages that tenure into an ever-lengthening list of new and existing clients alike.
Out of Happenstance
Not bad for a guy whose Plan A fizzled out mightily at the University of Nebraska at Omaha.
“I kind of fell into this industry,” Hunt said. “I was a chemistry major in college and was going to flunk out of chemistry, so I switched majors to accounting. My roommate’s dad was an accountant and I thought well, he seems to be successful.
“I went down the path of accounting and tax and took my first job working down at Gallup as a staff accountant. I had the opportunity there to start serving Gallup associates and their family members with their financial planning needs, really just out of happenstance. It was fortuitous how it got started because I really did fall in love with it.”
Hunt’s unique mix of experience and youth – he’s currently 35 – makes him something of an industry unicorn. Long-time savers like his street cred, while younger (but no less-knowledgeable) clients relate to him generationally. His well-proven approach appeals to all comers.
“When I first got into the business, it was a culture that financial planners were the knowledge gatekeepers,” he said. “With the rise in the internet, that’s no longer the case. The planner’s not the gatekeeper of knowledge and we’re not the gatekeeper of products anymore.
“In our practice, we’re there to equip and coach and counsel rather than come down from the mountain with knowledge or some product they didn’t know about. I like to think I’ve always worked that way, but now you have to work that way for sure.”
Appealing to younger savers in particular holds other advantages. While all
investors had to resort to technology during the early days of COVID-19, many
of Hunt’s clients have made no bones about their preference for such gadgets
going forward. This has forced a pivot into a dramatically different working
environment, Hunt said.
“In 2012, I was serving individuals and families all over the country and we
still do that today at our current firm. We serve clients in 30 states,” he said. “But
I was spending a lot more time on airplanes and in airports and hotels than I do
today. We still get on the airplane and go visit people, but it seems to be that the job
demands a lot less of that, and that’s of course been accelerated since the pandemic.
“I think this is probably a universal statement in the work-from-home
movement, but we’re seeing that clients are actually preferring a lot more Zoom
video technology, a lot more Facetime, a lot more tech-enabled interactions than
Hunt keeps his finger on the pulse on various aspects of the community
through his service activities, primary of which are Omaha Street School, Lifegate
Church and UNO’s Scholars Academy through which he has mentored college
students for six years.
“I think that one of the biggest things is he’s very approachable and he really
does make time for the students to ask him questions,” said Bethany Hughes,
director of the CBA Scholars Academy. “The students who’ve been paired with
Andrew consistently talk about how wonderful their meetings are, how beneficial
they are and how they will continue to stay in contact with him even after
they complete the program. In that sense, he’s ideally what a mentor should be,
approachable but also with a lot of good information, a lot of good experience.”
Hunt meets each mentee where they are, although secretly he’d love to preach
the merits of a career in financial planning, seeing unprecedented opportunity
in the gigantic turnover of wealth from baby boomers that continues to unfold.
He said while Hiley Hunt is and shall remain a boutique firm, this opportunity
makes staffing a primary challenge for the future.
“We are a talent-based business, so we’re only as good as the talent that works
here,” he said. “We’re not out there hiring a hundred people a year, which makes
the talent thing that much more important because we are a small team.
“Being a financial planner is the greatest job in the world. I am shocked that
more people don’t do it, because it’s incredibly fulfilling. You can make a great
living; if you have an entrepreneurial spirit, you can be an entrepreneur. And you
get to help people every single day with some of the most important decisions
they’ll make in their lives. I love what I do.”