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Meet Jason Kirsch of Grow in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jason Kirsch.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
I’m a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and founder of Grow. I’m on a mission to empower my generation to take control of their future.

After a number of years in the financial services industry, I began to realize that my younger clients required a different type of financial advice. Not just a tweak of the service I was providing for older clients, but something new altogether. The Financial Crisis of 2008 was a game changer. Millennials especially will feel its ripple effects for years. And the financial markets themselves have changed.

I saw that Millennials faced a unique set of challenges. But I also saw that they brought a unique skill-set to those challenges: they are smart with money, distrust financial institutions, and think like entrepreneurs. In other words, I saw that in crisis there is opportunity. To make up for bad economic timing, Millennials were going to have to be great, savvy investors—and they were more than up to the task.

So I wrote The Millennial Advantage to try to capture the crossroads we face in the wake of the Financial Crisis, and the Great Recession that followed. I don’t shy away from the very real obstacles to building wealth and security in these uncertain times. But I remain optimistic, and introduce you to the conceptual tools you’ll need to take control of your own financial wellbeing. More than ever, you will have to step forward and take consistent positive action.

Having spent the last fifteen years learning about finance and the last five working professionally with Millennials, I’ve had the opportunity to deepen my knowledge on a number of fronts. I realized, for one, that while it is helpful to have a basic understanding of the mechanics of markets and of various financial instruments, successful investing is first and foremost about clear thinking—about certain “habits of mind.” Many serious investors like George Soros, Ray Dalio, Warren Buffet and Howard Marks talk about how much they learned from successful athletes (e.g. the way Ted Williams approached hitting a baseball). I started to see how fundamental habits of mind, and of routine, were common to success in a wide range of fields, and in the art of life itself.

The “art of life” might seem like an esoteric concept for a financial advisor. But my second, bigger realization was that I was going to have to remake the kind of service I provided for Millennials even more than I had first thought. It wasn’t just that Millennials have been entering the job market at a bad time (they have); or that they think differently about money, purpose, and the connection between life and work (they do). Life itself—its rhythms and milestones—was changing. And I had an opportunity, and an obligation, to rethink my ideas about what it means to be a financial advisor.

It was through this process of challenging and pushing myself that I conceived of the idea for Grow. In The Millennial Advantage, I had outlined the nuts-and-bolts of solid investing; and for younger clients ready and able to embark on what we call “wealth management,” I wanted a program to help them put those principles into practice. But what about Millennials weighed down with student debt or those who simply have yet to start saving and still trying to find their way in the world? Those who think of “financial planning” as something that can wait until their late forties? More than wealth management, that kind of client needed life management.

Millennials sometimes get a bad rap as “the generation that refuses to grow up.” But postponing milestones like marriage or buying a home, and even choosing to live with parents for your twenties or part of your thirties, isn’t immaturity—it’s a rational response to economic reality. Yet postponing these milestones shouldn’t mean postponing financial planning. Your twenties and thirties are a critical time to lay down a foundation for long-term financial wellbeing; to develop good financial habits; and most of all, to invest in yourself.

“Invest in as much of yourself as you can,” Warren Buffett is fond of saying. “You are your own biggest asset by far.” But what does investing in yourself actually mean? Reading self-help books and going to the gym?

During my research for The Millennial Advantage and this company, I dived into the latest findings about productivity and peak performance and tapped into the minds some of the most successful people in history. Again, a lot of it came down to developing the right habits—habits of mind, and habits of routine. Similar to superior investing, it was about process.

Grow, then, is a holistic service designed to give you the tools to create value and wealth—and not just the kind of value and wealth that shows up in your bank account. Your twenties and thirties are a time to build financial capital and human capital. At Grow, we believe those two processes should go hand-in-hand. We’ll help you design a powerful, diversified financial portfolio, as well as a powerful, diversified life portfolio. We like to think of ourselves as the missing link between financial security and fulfillment.

Has it been a smooth road?
I think any small business is an emotional rollercoaster ride. I launched my business in January of 2017 and saw some good initial results. It was at this time that I also published my investment book, The Millennial Advantage: How Millennials Can (And Must) Be The Next Great Generation Of Investors, which helped spread the work of my company. Some months are great and some, not so much but I do my best to remain positive. The biggest struggles are dealing with rejection. Unlike most other companies who sell a product or a service, I’m selling myself and my ability to remain trustworthy. If I meet with a prospect and don’t get the work, it’s clear that it was me that failed to convince the prospect I was the right person to manage their money. This is something I’m working on improving going forward.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
Grow is a fee-only financial planning and investment firm that exclusively works with Millennials. For many millennials, their twenties and thirties are a time to find your way—and to at least start positioning yourself for future success. “Wealth management” might as well be a foreign language, so you assume that financial planning (and long-term planning in general) will have to wait until later in life.

We help our clients develop a strategy for building financial capital and human capital, in whatever way best suits them, their situation, and your aspirations.

But we don’t just walk our clients through the nuts-and-bolts of the timeless approach to investing I introduce in my book The Millennial Advantage. We also focus on other equally important investments: in the skills, habits and tools that will enable our clients to create lasting value in their life.

In other words, I help Millennials invest in themselves!

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
People say if you can make it in New York you can make it anywhere. I spent over 20 years in NY and I think this quote applies more to Los Angeles. LA presents business owners with every opportunity imaginable but doesn’t make it easy. For the most motivated, proactive entrepreneurs, I don’t think there’s any better city to start a business than in LA.

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