“I feel I’ve been in asset management all my life,” says Jim as he reflected on his 30 year career in financial services. “My first real job was part-time stock clerk and delivery boy for an electronics firm in 1972. Instead of investments, my concern was for the care and safety of resistors, capacitors, integrated circuits and electronic assemblies. I know it sounds strange, but I took my job seriously.” Having been promoted to Purchasing Manager, Jim left the company four years later after the firm had been sold.
By 1983, after tenures at several manufacturing firms, Jim, a CPIM (Certified Practitioner of Inventory Management), was asked as Director of Production and Materials Controls for a Philadelphia conglomerate, to move to Santa Rosa, California. “It was really tempting.” he says, “The lure of the Pacific, the warmth, the wine.” Because his mother was ill (she died a few years later), and he had roots in Chicago, he declined the offer. It was at that point Jim thought about changing careers. “I’m a 35 year old executive with a great resume and I want to change careers? I must have been nuts!” he exclaims.
“Manufacturing had provided an enjoyable and rewarding career and I loved it, but I didn’t feel a close connection to our customers,” he recalls. I craved the personal interaction that was hindered by working through a corporate chain of command.”
“I took a little more that a year to take stock of myself, my education, training, and experience to decide how to continue my life’s journey.” Memories flooded back….
Jim remembered the time his parents wanted him to buy life insurance when he was sixteen. He questioned why he was buying insurance on his own life when he and the family were totally dependent on his father for support. “I still think Dad should have bought extra life insurance on himself, but to make my parents happy, I ended up buying the insurance anyway.” At age 23 he bought his first new car, a 1972 Chevelle, ‘on time’. “I figured out how I could pay it off early and did!”
By age 30 he was explaining a new retirement savings concept called an ‘I R A’ to friends, neighbors, and relatives. “All that time I was giving financial advice, I was employed in manufacturing. Financial Services? Why not give it a try?”
“So I bought a briefcase at a flea market and joined a Financial Services firm, called IDS (Investors Diversified Services) which eventually evolved into Ameriprise.” Thirty years later Jim has no regrets. “For the last three decades I’ve sat directly across from my boss - my clients. As long as they are happy with me, they keep me employed. So far, so good! And I still carry that flea market briefcase.”
Lifetime residents of the Chicago area, Jim and his wife Ann reside in Wayne, Illinois. Jim is a local history buff and has served on several historical society boards as an author/lecturer on the topic. As a Commissioner on the Wayne Historic Sites Commission, Jim helps oversee Wayne's two National Register Historic Districts. He remains a volunteer with the Elk Grove Historical Association, a non-profit he founded in 2001, serving Elk Grove Village where he was a resident for thirty years.
When Jim is not carrying his briefcase, or serving to preserve his community’s heritage, he enjoys his family, the outdoors, and a good history book.
Getting to know Jim:
Favorite movie: Zeffirelli’s Romeo and Juliet, 1968
Favorite food: Quesadillas, pollo with salsa verde, and Negra Modello.
Where Jim would most like to visit: Rome, Florence and Cinque Terre