Feature Interview With Jim Whiddon
A new year ushers in the opportunity to highlight fresh voices in our BAM ALLIANCE community.
Jim Whiddon, CFP®, MSFS became a member of the BAM ALLIANCE in 2013, when his Dallas-based Registered Investment Advisor firm, JWA Financial Group, became part of Buckingham. Jim is the author of Wealth Without Worry and The Investing Revolution, and he was the host of the daily economic and investment talk show “The Investing Revolution” on CNN 1190 in Dallas where he regularly interviewed personalities such as John Bogle, John Stossel, Bill Bernstein and Burton Malkiel. He continues to serve clients as a wealth advisor and will share his insights on advising and financial planning both within our community and with investors at large as a BAM ALLIANCE National Thought Leader.
Jim’s passion for evidence-based investing and client-first advising took root in the very beginning of his career in financial services. “I was originally trained as an insurance guy — a very transactional field. I became interested in investing and the financial planning part of the business after helping New York Life launch its Registered Investment Advisor firm in the 80s. During that process, I went through the rigors of the CFP program and when doing so, it became evident to me that investors seemed to be on a treadmill — running hard with investments but not going anywhere.”
When doing his due diligence, Jim says the reason why became obvious. “Wall Street isn’t set up so that the investor gets ahead. It’s set up so that Wall Street gets ahead. Relying on market timing and stock picking is impossible for average investors hoping for long-term financial security, but it’s what they’ve been led to believe is the answer 1,000 times over. As an advisor, I wanted complete objectivity so that I could do what was best for my clients and their families.”
And for the next quarter century, that’s exactly what Jim and his team did, ultimately managing roughly $375 million in assets. “Our success was due more to our passion — our overall philosophical mission regarding investing and financial planning — than to any one economic factor. We knew if we delivered the message that there was another way to invest, the economic part would take care of itself.”
What motivated Jim as an advisor was the need to bring a right-brain perspective to a left-brain profession. “Throughout my career, I’ve used storytelling to help drive home important messages. The idea is to associate certain topics in our field that can be tedious or technical or esoteric — and to make them relatable through story so it’s easy for advisors and for clients to understand and, more importantly, remember.”
In his office, he and associates rely on a library of such stories — one for every possible client or investment scenario. “That’s part of what I hope to share with the BAM ALLIANCE community. I want to use that ongoing library of stories that are easily remembered, retold and brought to recollection.”
Embracing a storytelling approach to advising made Jim’s jump from advisor to author a natural one. He has published two books: Wealth Without Worry and The Investing Revolution. “My writing came from my passion to get the message out. I was always driven most by my interest in sharing the evidence-based philosophy and using storytelling as a vehicle to deliver the message. Writing is by no means easy, but I enjoy it.”
A voracious reader, Jim never finds himself short of inspirational material. “I read largely economic texts during most of my professional career, but in 2009, I bought a Kindle and it changed my life. I read 100 books from every genre the first year I had it — from finance to psychology to family — and began to develop an understanding of how connected everything is.”
This was such an enlightening experience for Jim that he developed a book club as part of an internal developmental strategy. It was difficult at first to get everyone on board, but soon they were making the same important connections, says Jim. “The way we communicated with each other changed. It became so popular that we rolled it out with clients as a way to facilitate conversation on topics such as finance/economics, history, psychology, sociology, faith and family. It has been a success and taught me so many things. Once you connect in this way, it’s a relationship you have for life.”
Jim and his wife share four children. Outside of work, you’ll likely find Jim and his family keeping up with their kids’ extracurriculars. “My son is a student at Texas A&M, my alma mater. But we have three high-schoolers in the house. Their lives keep us busy!”
Jim sees his role as a National Thought Leader with the BAM ALLIANCE as the ultimate educational platform to reach advisors and investors. “I want to help people connect and make smart decisions, no matter where they are on their investing journey.”
Jim’s Recommended Reading List
A Whole New Mind by Daniel Pink
Moonwalking with Einstein: The Art and Science of Remembering Everything by Joshua Foer
Words that Work by Frank Luntz
Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion by Robert Cialdini
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