Empathy and understanding on the path to financial wellness | Health And Wellness


William T. Johnson is Vice President and Financial Planner for October Mountain Financial Advisors.

LEE – “An honor.”

This is what William T. Johnson calls it when you put your financial plans in his hands.

Johnson is vice president and financial planner for October Mountain Financial Advisors. He has spent his entire career managing money and entire HR departments, but today his goal is to keep things close and personal in order to accomplish his ongoing mission and help you achieve your best future right away.

“It’s an honor for me to do what I do because I know it makes a difference in someone’s life. I raised my kids with this topic and did it myself, ”says Johnson.

A long career in wealth management

Johnson started out in private practice and was soon hired as a financial planner at Aetna Financial Services, where he eventually oversaw a region that stretched from the Mississippi to the Atlantic Ocean and eventually the West Coast.

Once upon a time he worked for a commission on the investments he managed. Not anymore, says Johnson, who likes to earn a salary instead of a percentage these days.

Why? Because percentages aren’t people, Johnson says.

“I managed 42 offices, hundreds of planners. I know this commission side of the business. We are not. We do not do that. I find it very rewarding to get up every day and know that I am getting a paycheck and not a commission, ”says Johnson.

This points to authenticity and his moral compass so that visitors to his office – or the zoom screen – don’t have to be afraid to speak openly.

Johnson affirms that this maintains confidence in his ability as a person and a lifelong financial professional with fiduciary responsibility.


The Mountain Mountain Financial Advisors are from left Marianne Fresia, certified trust and fiduciary advisor / Trust Administration; Rick Bleser, Vice President and Portfolio Manager; Thadd Welch, Chartered Financial Analyst, Vice President and Portfolio Manager; Bill Johnson, vice president and financial planner / advisor; Gary Schiff, managing director; Tim Suffish, CFA, executive vice president and head of stocks; and Matt Farkas, CFA, Vice President and Head of Fixed Income. Visit online at octobermountainfa.com and schedule a meeting today.

Vision and feeling for the future

He says it is the openness between him and his clients that is needed to lead them into their retirement years. According to Johnson, the financial planning process is much more about vision and emotion than hard numbers.

For newbies to financial planning, Johnson wants you to know that his office is a place where you won’t be judged whether you’ve saved every penny or almost all of it. It won’t blow smoke or crush your mind. What he will do is deliver the financial truth to you with empathy from a place of experience.

“You learn very early on that people spend more time planning their vacations than their financial lives,” says Johnson. he says that’s okay … that’s what he’s here for.

When you sit down with him, some of the basics Johnson wants to know are things like:

When do you expect to retire?

What is your vision for the future?

What do you see for you in the next five years?

What is a priority for you right now?

And who or what cause is important to you?

“Although I crack numbers every day, I really need to know who you are, what drives you and what is important to you. That’s more important to me than the numbers. The numbers are simple. It’s the soft things that give me the direction I need, ”says Johnson. “I’ve always refused to call it ‘your goals’. I am trying to explore your vision and we will see how planning can help you in this. “

Help with setting a course

When a customer is unsure of the direction in their life, Johnson, a high-profile conversationalist, has the interpersonal skills to figure out what’s right for you and your future.

“People talk about withdrawing from something. You should talk about withdrawing into something. Together we will find out that X, Y, Z are important to you, and we go that route, ”says Johnson. “For example, I met with a police officer ten times before he agreed to retire. I had already told him he could retire. I had already shown him financially that it was a walk in the park … I told him, “Dude, you can retire today.” He wasn’t going to give it up. “

Eventually the officer withdrew and plans to go to the islands soon.

“He drove by in his Miata convertible to demonstrate it and his new truck. “Hey, Bill, look, I have a new truck. All because you let me do it. You retired me. ‘I didn’t make you, we just talked it through,’ he recalls.

Sometimes financial planning clients have a concern that extends to a family member in need of care after passing on. For example, Johnson recently helped a couple who have a disabled daughter who will never work.

“We do most of this planning to protect them, so mom and dad know that planning is done when the time is right they won’t be there,” says Johnson. “There are moments in this business when you can walk away knowing you did the right thing and you feel really good about yourself.”

You can contact us at any time

Plans get an annual review, but the relationship between Johnson and his customers is alive and well.

“Your life changes from year to year. Things happen. You know that, and I need to know what things are, ”says Johnson. “But it’s not about this once a year meeting. The point is that we are available every day for any question you might have. “

Over time, customers took him on small road trips to see where their family members lived and received customers’ homemade kugelach and fillets of freshly caught trout.

“You are almost becoming an extension of her family. It’s very important to me and I take it very personally, ”says Johnson.

October Mountain clients – typically with assets in excess of $ 200,000 – know their money is being managed by a team that will be around for as long as possible, Johnson notes.

October Mountain is a Berkshires-based investment firm affiliated with Lee Bank. Clients with less than $ 200,000 can access investment products through a brokerage relationship that Lee Bank is required to offer to clients with lesser needs.

You get a team

As a client-facing member of the finance team, Johnson also works closely with three October Mountain asset managers who oversee investments and a teammate from parent company St. Germain Investment Management in Springfield who does all the data entry.

“We have a very unique relationship with our customers. We give them a team; We don’t give them a person, ”says Johnson.

Johnson also uses e-money software to get a complete picture of customers’ financial present and future. This is much easier than when you started out in business. It was all analog and computers were the size of closets.

“With e-money we can enter data and reports are linked and updated daily. You used to call me and say, “Hey, Bill, I’m in town, I want to stop by and review my investments.” I would freak out. I would have to make dozens of calls to get the information, ”recalls Johnson. “E-money is wonderful. There is no need for anyone to make a plan. The plan is already ready. Once the data is received, the cash flow report is created, an estate plan is created, and the retirement plan is created. My job is to communicate what I see. “

When is the right time to start planning?

For Johnson, the lightbulb moment about the importance of preparing for the future came shortly after college on one of his many light-hearted trips to Cape Cod.

“I’d drive my Austin-Healey 3000 MK III down there and think I’d be the next best thing to slice bread,” recalls Johnson. “I would pitch my tent and get fresh cheese and bread every day.”

The elderly gentleman who owned the cheese business said to him: “If you were smart, you would buy something here as an individual now.”

It was kind of a revelation to realize that there is more to life than just being alone and just living for the present, he says.

“That’s the mistake he put in my ear and that’s been there ever since,” says Johnson.

Johnson, person at heart, looks forward to meeting you face-to-face after 13 months of remote working from home in Longmeadow.

If you also feel the itch of planning flaw, contact Johnson at 413-243-4331 or [email protected]

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