Joseph Ortiz got his start as a financial advisor for Edward Jones in Ahwatukee the old-fashioned way.
He walked it. Literally.
“When I got to Edward Jones in 2008, they said, ‘Go out into the community and knock on all the doors,’” recalled Ortiz.
His office was at Ray Road and 48th Street at the time and so, “I did circle and went all the way to Chandler and to Warner.”
“I kept records of every house I visited on Excel sheets. Some days I would see sometimes more than 100 houses. I was not very good at it because I felt it wasn’t my natural thing. I was quick with anyone who met me. I’d say, ‘Here’s my card; I’m sorry to bother you. I was polite, didn’t try to come in.’”
That experience taught Ortiz, now at the Edward Jones office on the northeast corner of Warner and Elliot, two things
“Slowly but surely, people started to phone me,” he said. “The first guy I talked to had been working on his car and we just started talking about cars. He became a client.”
Besides the importance of a face-to-face introduction, he also learned “how surprisingly warm Ahwatukee is.”
“I started in July and a lot of really nice Ahwatukee folks offered me water” he said. “One guy driving down the street asked me if I wanted to stick my head in his car because I had a suit on.”
Ortiz, a Southern California native who has lived in Ahwatukee with his wife and three children since 2008, still knocks on doors – though not as often as he’d like to because he also has a lot of clients.
He supplements the door-knocking with a coffee-and-chat meeting with anyone who wants to drop by at 8:30 a.m. the second Friday of the month at the Four Points by Sheraton Phoenix on 51st Street near Elliot Road.
His job demands both a command of an unending stream of data and a good bedside manner with clients with a wide variety of financial needs and desires.
He developed the command of data at an early age.
Born in 1976, well before the internet and the invention of Excel, Ortiz as a youngster became fascinated financial data through the influence of his mother, a career bank employee who handled loans, and his father, who worked for the paint giant PPG and invested in his employer’s stock.
“I got in the habit of watching his stock price, then started looking at other companies’ stock. He used to ask me to find an article in the newspaper that I liked. I’d read Fortune Magazine and use to circle the companies I liked. My father took me to work with him, showed me a lot of things about business.”
“I grew up in the old style,” he added. “My mother had to type all kinds of loan stuff and I’d sit with her and mess with calculators and I would ask her things.”
Over time, he became sufficiently proficient with financial data that he got a job for a real estate company analyzing its clients, checking credit ratings and other records to give his employer a clearer idea of whom they were dealing with.
Today, he can talk to people in terms of the national and global financial challenges their generation has gone through – as well as their personal dreams and hurdles.
At age 41, he noted, he has lived through two major market cataclysms – the burst in the internet bubble in the 1990s and the crash of 2008 – though the savings-and-loan crash of 1987 also registered deeply with him because “my mother made me promise not to ever go into real estate.”
Such peaks and dips on Wall Street have convinced him that volatility in the market is here to stay.
Yet, he said, “I think the number one mistake the volatility shaking people out of their long-term goals.’
Just look at last year, he said. February 2016 saw one of the worst overall market conditions for that time period ever and yet, the market ended having one of its best years ever.
Simultaneously, market volatility may be making many people more nervous than ever – and for a good reason.
“Our net worth as a household is the highest ever been,” Ortiz noted. “If you think of what we have to lose, it’s never been bigger. It’s natural for us to overreact, but it’s nicer to have a pragmatic conversation through that process. …If we think we’re nervous now, wait till there are a few more digits in our accounts.”
That’s why it’s important to have goals – and to review them frequently, Ortiz said, noting “Today we’re fighting for every penny we have.”
“Our firm is very committed to revisiting someone’s financial goals,” said Ortiz, who keeps his own goals on a sheet of paper in his backpack because “it gives me the vigor to know why I am saving, why I am doing what I am doing even if I don’t want to do it.”
“One of the things I highly recommend is reviewing your long-term goals even on a monthly basis,” he said. “When I pay all my bills, I want to remember why I am doing that.”
He said his job is to help his clients establish and continually reassess those goals so that he can help them customize an approach to saving and investing that will achieve what they want.
“One of the most empowering is for them to see 20 or 30 years out from where they’re at now,” Ortiz added. “We have a tendency to look back too much.”
“People kind of know when it’s time to sit down with me or someone like me. We all have that ability to say ‘I got to do this.’ Sometimes we’re forced to. We have family issues that come up and we start thinking about things differently.”
And that’s why Ortiz says he won’t ever give up knocking on doors. Sooner or later, he hopes, people will look for him – if they know about him.
“Meeting them is the key.”