Midlife Crisis Drove This Theologian to a Career in Financial Planning

His message for other advisors: “Always nurture your passions.”

By Eleanor O'Sullivan

In his 40s, a crisis unseated Marty Reid, a financial advisor based near Charlotte, N.C., from his comfortable personal life and a rewarding career.

“I made the leap into a financial planning career only after going through a difficult divorce and resigning my teaching position. Basically, everything was turned upside down for me. After the divorce, I tried to get back into teaching but it just didn’t work,’’ says Reid, 66, founder of Reid Financial Consulting Inc. in Lincolnton, N.C.

Reid had been a teacher and done scholarly research. He received his master’s of theology from Princeton Theological Seminary, and his doctorate from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. He taught New Testament studies and New Testament Greek at the college level.

So in the rocky period of his life that followed, an interview in 1998 “that just fell into my lap’’ for a job with Prudential Financial was fortuitous: His interviewer had a divinity degree from Duke University.

“It’s funny how it turned out; needless to say, we hit it off quite well and developed a close relationship. I had no background in financial planning whatsoever, but in my first career, I had the opportunity to counsel students. That helped me in my new career working with clients and families and small business owners, counseling them in financial matters.’’

His business model since then has remained the same: “Integrating Wealth, Stewardship and Values.’’

After receiving his CFP designation, Reid left Prudential in Charlotte, N.C. to start his own financial consulting firm, and in 2004, he went independent.

Back to His Roots

To practice as an independent, he moved back to his boyhood home of Lincolnton, where his father had been a doctor for 40 years, and he bought an office building that’s about two blocks from Main Street and five blocks from his house.

He now has about 100 portfolio accounts and many of his clients are families.
Reid says he has a passion for providing “comprehensive financial planning and quite honestly, it makes my job a lot easier because it allows me to approach clients’ financial position holistically. I will leave no rock unturned — I’ll do budget review, short term goal planning, retirement planning, investment planning, overall risk planning, tax, estate planning, basically, top to bottom.”

The majority of Reid’s clients are retirees. Some are “pre-retirees,’’ in their 40s, including a Charlotte restaurant owner who “started with me when he had a zero retirement balance and has, let me say, seen significant progress.’’

His oldest client, whom he began working with in 1998, is a retired surgeon in his late 70s. From one client he began working with 20 years ago and who will retire this month, he has become planner for that client’s entire family, including a branch that lives in Kentucky.
During the pandemic, Reid has met with his clients by Zoom; many say they prefer that method.

“The positive outcome of this is that my clients really like the Zoom meeting because through screen-sharing, we can work through documents and reviews. They find it very convenient.’’
Reid says he has learned, especially since the pandemic began in 2020, to keep his business plan simple.

“I had to learn by experience. In the beginning of the pandemic, last March, I went through my entire business plan, and I simplified things and cut expenses. Now I am at the point, where I am a good bit more efficient in the way I run my practice.’’

Over the 23 years he has been a planner, Reid sees advances in technology such as social media, as positive changes, and although increasing regulatory requirements pose challenges, he says the CFP board continues to articulate its commitment to fiduciary standards.

“That’s an important positive outcome. Whenever I meet with prospective clients I tell them to make sure they understand the professional standards of the planner you are going to work with, and I strongly recommend them to work with a CFP.’’

He’s been planner for several generations of Lincolnton families, starting with friends he grew up with in Lincolnton who are ready to retire and who sent their children to Reid.

Retirement Dreams

“A lot of my clients think of retirement as when you get to the point of being financially independent so you can do what you really want to do.

“A lot of my clients think of retirement as when you get to the point of being financially independent so you can do what you really want to do.”

“For example, I’m working with an executive who is retiring next month, and his post-retirement project is to build a Factory Five Shelby Cobra Mark IV with all new parts. He’s going to school in Detroit to learn how to do it. It’s exciting to see him be able to devote himself to a project that’s going to be a lot of fun.’’

Although at 66, Reid has certainly given thought to his own retirement, he says he still has a high level of energy, which he’s using in a jaw-dropping list of activities: Besides running his firm, he teaches a financial planner program at McColl School of Business at Queens University, Charlotte, N. C.; is a CFP Ambassador, a media representative role for the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, Inc.; and is working on a book for consumers on financial planning.

Reid works a four-day week now, usually quitting early on Fridays. After work on Tuesdays, he teaches at McColl School of Business. He has been a mentor to his students, some of whom have become CFPs. He’s also a volunteer associate pastor at his church in Gastonia, N.C.

And he has a busy and happy home life: Reid remarried and he and his wife, Jocelyn, have a son, John, 10.

Reid says that he and his family plan to buy a second home in the San Juan Beach area of the Philippines, where his wife was born. One lure is the beaches; Reid was a devoted surfer when he lived in West Palm Beach, Fla. in his youth, and remains an avid swimmer — he occasionally swims on his lunch hour at the local YMCA. And in the wee hours, Reid reconnects with an earlier passion from his teaching career: The study of Greek.

“I get up at 4 in the morning, to do research and to read. I have always had a love of language and I spend a good bit of time on it. That would be my takeaway to advisors: Always nurture your passions.’’

In a four-decade career in journalism, Eleanor O’Sullivan has reviewed many books on best practices for financial advisors, has written for Financial Advisor and the USA Today network, and was movie critic for the Asbury Park Press.

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