At 38, Taylor Easley has an admirably young clientele. Half of the $35 million he manages belongs to clients younger than 40 with investable assets between $500,000 and $15 million. The focus of this native Hawaiian: surfers, or filmmakers and personalities connected to the surfing industry.
After building a book of $90 million with a partner at Morgan Stanley, Easley opened his own business, Easley & Associates, two years ago in Kailua and Kona, offering securities through Raymond James just as the market bottomed. He rode the market up, providing support and education to young men, many of them friends who knew little about money.
"The prize in a surfing competition is usually $50,000. The real money comes from representing apparel, sunglasses or energy drinks for sponsors. I knew the people and could really help. Now I have a lot of the top surfers as clients. Most advisors have 500 or more client relationships, but I focus on 45.
"Surfers have two issues. One is not saving enough. The other is avoiding get-rich-quick schemes. We set up a savings program immediately-their window for making big money is about 12 years, from age 22 to 35. They know that the money isn't going to come in forever, but in the heat of the moment they might forget. And they don't know how much they'll need over their lifetime. If they're making $100,000 a month from a sponsor, I might tell them to save $40,000, through automatic deposits. For clients 40 or older, a defined-benefit pension might allow them to put away more money tax deferred.
"There are many examples of athletes being duped out of millions of dollars. It's often family members who invite them into risky business ventures. The surfer says, 'Oh yeah, cool, this is only $100,000 and the guy says I can triple my money in a year. Awesome.'
"I do a lot of hand-holding, and joint meetings with athletes and their parents, agents and CPAs. I charge 0.7% to 1.2% of assets, depending on complexity and risk. Surfers are like gypsies-they come from all over the world to compete in Hawaii. When you're a niche planner, you just hang out with your clients. You do the right things for the right people and good things happen."