One of the Top Financial Advisors in the Country: Advice and a Q&A With Troy Nelson

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6 mins read
Troy Nelson

Although Troy Nelson is not mentioned among the local celebrities like Carson Wentz and others who have reached the top of their professional arena, he sure should be.

Nelson started working at Edward Jones at the age of 23, just one week after graduating from college. And now, 23 years later, he hasn’t slowed down in the career that he was destined for.

Some of his accomplishments include being named to Barron’s “America’s Top 1,200 Financial Advisors” and North Dakota’s #1 Overall Financial Advisor for nine of the last ten years. He has also been named on the Forbes Best in State and was ranked 125th on Forbes Top 250 Wealth Advisors.

His Roots

Nelson picked up a lot of his knowledge and passion for the industry through his closest mentor, his father, who trained financial advisors for nearly 30 years.

“As a kid, we had family dinner together every night,” Nelson said. “During the first half of dinner, we talked about what happened that day and caught up as a family. During the second half of dinner, he would tune in to Moneyline with Lou Dobbs.”

The markets and investment talk were central and fascinating topics to Nelson from very early on in his life. Some kids wanted to be professional athletes when they grew up. Others wanted to be educators or astronauts. Nelson wanted to be a financial advisor.

“It was something that fascinated me from a young age,” Nelson said. “I’m one of the few people who knew early on that I wanted to be a financial advisor. My father was a great mentor to me. I was able to tailor my schooling and education towards this and I started investing at a very young age.”

Financial Advice From Troy Nelson

1. ABSOLUTELY Have a Plan

I work with high-net-worth individuals that are quite successful in their fields. However, I’m continually baffled that many of those people don’t have a plan in place at all. Or, if they do have a plan in place, they don’t know what it is and they haven’t retooled it in a long period of time.

I believe that if you don’t know where you’re going, you’re never going to get there.

2. Think Long Term

This has become harder and harder for people to stick to. We live in a microwave society where everyone wants things now. And they want things better than yesterday. However, investing and planning don’t work that way.

I use this analogy with my clients. If you’re going to cook a roast, you have a couple of options. One option would be a microwave and another option would be a crockpot. I’ve tried both. I’ve cooked a roast in the microwave and the beautiful part is that it gets done really, really fast. However, you wouldn’t be, and I wasn’t, happy with the outcome. It’s like chewing a block of rubber. Conversely, if you have a tried and true, trusted crockpot recipe and you follow it, set it and forget it—you don’t pull the lid off every five minutes and check it, and you’re going to end up with a delicious dinner.

Investing in planning works the exact same way. If you want to microwave your investment and your planning, it’s not going to turn out very well. But if you trust your tried and true recipe, you’re going to be rewarded with a good retirement. Think long-term.

3. Have Perspective

For example, we recently experienced a market correction. A correction is defined by at least a 10% drop in stock prices. Whenever these things happen, people tend to react by panicking. However, since the year 1900, we’ve had an average of one 10% correction per year. So, we shouldn’t be surprised when it happens. That would be like being surprised when your birthday rolls around every year. So, we shouldn’t panic either. It really is a good thing if you look at it the right way. Once per year, you get a major discount on some of the world’s best companies. I’m in the only business on the planet where when things go on sale, people want nothing to do with them. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. Every three to five years, on average, you get a bear market where there’s a 20% drop in stock prices. And so every three to five years, you get to buy on clearance. That’s always scary to people but it’s a completely, totally normal part of investing. So, all my clients are very well aware that this is going to happen. I tell them that if they have a $2 million account with me, they’re going to see it drop by $600,000 at some point. And they have two options when that happens. They can stick their head in the sand and ignore it or if they have money to invest, they better be calling me. When people panic in times like these, they make really bad decisions that cost them a lot of money and ruin or delay their retirement.

4. Have a Coach

The best athletes in the world still have coaches. So, have a coach or advisor. There’s about 10% of the population that can do it themselves and do it well. There’s another 10-15% that think they can do it themselves. But even the world’s best athletes have coaches and advisors. I think I’m at the top of my game with what I do for clients, and I have two executive coaches. I have them because I can always grow, I can always get better and I can always learn.

Q&A

23 years, why have you stayed with Edward Jones for so long?

I think there are a couple of reasons. One is that I really get to make a significant difference in people’s lives. In the long run, I get to see the things that I help people plan actually come to fruition.

On the flip side of that, I’ve unfortunately had numerous clients pass away. Thankfully, I’ve also been able to convince many of my clients to invest in Long Term Care Insurance to protect their nest eggs. I have one client who is, unfortunately, using his now. His wife was in my office the other day crying and telling me how glad they were that I recommended it to them. So, that’s part of it as well. I want to help my clients protect what they have so they can live fuller lives.

I know you are very involved in the community. Why is the Adult & Teen Challenge such an important cause to you?

It’s important to me because I’ve seen it make a big difference in people’s lives. Drug and alcohol addiction can really ravage people’s lives and have a negative impact on their families and their friends. I’ve seen the negative impact that it has firsthand from family and friends over the years. And I want to make a difference.

What do you think has allowed you to stay successful over such a long period of time?

I would say three things come to mind. The first thing I’d say is that I’m made for this. I could probably do 1,000 different careers and be lousy or mediocre. But this is one of the things I was put on this planet to do because I’m good at three things: I’m a great problem solver. I’m a great communicator of solutions, and I can present things in an easy-to-understand way that people can actually act upon. And, although I wasn’t always, I have become a great leader.

I’m very much a constant learner and grower. As I mentioned earlier, I have two executive coaches. I also have a counselor. I’ve done “The Ultimate Leadership Workshop” with Dr. Henry Cloud and Dr. John Townsend. I’ve done the “Townsend Leadership Program,” which is a year-long, intensive program where I flew to Arizona once a month. I did that for a year and I’m re-enrolling now for a second year. I go to the Global Leadership Forum yearly. Last year, I did a three-week silent, solitary retreat, which was probably one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in life. I spent three weeks alone with no phone, no TV, no radio, no books. I was literally by myself with a journal and my Bible alone in this cabin in the middle of the woods in Gig Harbor, Washington.

As a financial advisor, how do you look at cryptocurrency?

I would say that there are two different ways I look at this. When you say cryptocurrency in general, that’s a really broad term. Many of the cryptocurrencies that exist now will not exist in the future—they will go away, they will go to zero and they will be gone.

However, I do think Bitcoin will be around long-term and I think that it will probably go up in value, even though it is literally supported by nothing. All it is, are ones and zeros on the Internet, there’s nothing backing it. However, that isn’t much different from the US dollar. As a country, we have massive quantities of debt. So there’s really nothing backing the US dollar either. The US dollar has value because people believe in the US dollar. Bitcoin has value because people believe in Bitcoin because there’s a limited quantity of it. You can’t print or make more of it. It’s valuable because of the network effect, and it has a big enough network and a large number of people trusting it.

I think it will be around long-term, but do I suggest it for clients? No. For the majority of my clients, that is too speculative of an asset. Do I have some clients in it? Yes, those that want to speculate with a smaller percentage of their portfolio. But if you’re looking for something as a hedge, which is what most people are looking to Bitcoin for, I would much rather trust gold, which has passed the 2,000-year test. Bitcoin has passed the 13-year test.

To learn more about Troy Nelson, visit

edwardjones.com/us-en/financial-advisor/troynelson
Phone: (701) 255-1196
Address: 1701 Burnt Boat Drive, Bismarck