Edmond financial planner Greg Womack has used a lifelong pursuit of art to help his clients better understand their financial picture.
“When I think about something, I'm painting or visualizing in my head,” said Womack, president of Womack Investment Advisors. “That's what people need to do need to do: flesh it out and it becomes reality. When it comes time to review a financial plan, I always have charts and other visuals. They help everyone see and understand better.”
The grandson of a stone carver, Womack always has had an interest in art. He majored in commercial art at the University of Central Oklahoma before working in insurance, which led to a career as a financial adviser.
“Just in the last few years, I got back into art,” he said. “I'm taking lessons once a week. It helps me get away from the stress of work. It's a great stress reliever.”
While art and finance don't often mix, Womack said it is helpful for financial advisers to have a creative side.
“To be a financial planner and adviser, you have to be able to connect with people and create a vision with your clients,” he said.
Womack recently discussed his personal and professional life. This is an edited transcript:
Q: How did you become a financial adviser?
A: I started in mid '80s, selling insurance part time. In 1987, I went full time in the financial planning business. I started with a major company. They threw me into management at 24. I did that for a while, but I felt like I needed to be meeting with people.
In 1990, I went out on my own. Then I decided to set up Womack Investment Advisers in 2000. I've been operating under that umbrella since then.
Q: When did you know this was what you wanted to do?
A: I knew I wanted to get into a business that was working with people, helping people to work toward their goals and helping them make a positive difference. There's something to be said about being able to sit down and help somebody. I've delivered a lot of death claim checks that, without them, the families would have had a hard time. I just like dealing with people, working with people.
Q: How did open your own shop?
A: It was the entrepreneur in me to branch out and do my own thing. Working for a big company is good. It has benefits and training, but it also has downsides. I didn't have the flexibility, not only in time and work but also in what I would like to do for people.
As an independent adviser, I'm able to do more and am not married to a particular product or company and their services. It was important for me to seek that out.
When I first went out on my own, we drained our savings fast, paying for benefits and office and staff. It took a few years to get over that hump. We finally did. It was tough. When you work for yourself, you're it. The challenges of working for yourself are big, but also the rewards can be big.
Q: What's the best advice you give?
A: People need a financial plan they can go to that keeps them centered. Sometimes we get off course. A financial plan is like a compass that gets you where you want to go. It's not just a financial plan. It's your life goals and ambitions that form that plan. If people can put together that plan and review it regularly and have somebody to sit down and talk it through, those people tend to be more successful and at peace when market events come along because they see the bigger picture and not just seeing the noise.