Sad news for the USA Financial advisor family and financial planning industry

While the news cycles of the week have been focused on the shocking and tragic death of legendary basketball star Kobe Bryant, the family at USA Financial mourns the recent loss of two individuals who made a profound impact on us directly.

Over the past month, the USA Financial family lost two long-time friends and advisors. For those of you that have been connected to USA Financial for some time, it’s likely you may have had interaction at some point with Ray Lussier and James Twigg. I’m saddened to share that both have passed away within the past month or so.

These two men had such uniquely different personalities, but they both had their own special way of impacting the lives they touched. I’m no exception. Ray and James were fiercely loyal individuals and passionate about making the lives of others better, especially their clients.

USA Financial was privileged to have been referred to Ray in 2009. From the moment we met Ray, we knew we wanted to have him as a part of our advisor family. A former green beret, Ray was a no-nonsense straight shooter. His word was his bond and you never needed to question whether he would follow-through on what he said he was planning to do. If we ever hit bumps in the road throughout our professional relationship, Ray handled himself professionally and always trusted that we would navigate the challenges together. He was a mentor to other advisors, frequently setting them straight about what in life was truly worth stressing about. Ray wasn’t one to talk much about his time in Vietnam, but anybody who knew him well could recognize that his time in the military taught him a lot.  As many of our service men and women did, he saw things during that period of his life that would shape him into the level-headed man he was. In fact, he was quick to share that his pursuit of an education in psychology after his time in the service was largely driven by the desire to fix himself.

Ray was somebody you just loved talking with, and not just because of his wonderful Boston accent. You always felt you were going to learn something when you chatted with Ray. I always gained a better perspective on my own life after a conversation with Ray. It wasn’t long ago that Ray was fortunate enough to retire from the financial planning business. Sadly, shortly after selling his practice, he was diagnosed with brain cancer. Ray passed away on December 19, 2019. He was 72 years old.

It was less than a month later, on January 18, 2020, that James Twigg passed away unexpectedly as the result of a motor vehicle accident near Phoenix, AZ. James joined USA Financial near the end of 2003. He was one of the very first advisors I recall having a conversation with as a new employee of USA Financial. I remember thinking to myself “if every advisor is as kind and appreciative as this guy, this is going to be the best place in the world to work.” There are so many kind words I could say about James, but the one thing that comes to mind immediately is how thankful and appreciative he was. James made it a point to let you know that he was thankful for anything you did to help him. You couldn’t have a conversation with James without hearing the words “thank you” come out of his mouth.

James had an amazing laugh. Even during times of frustration, he would find ways to laugh and smile. I’ll never forget the day he shared the story of him making squirrel gravy. While I found the idea of squirrel gravy so bizarre, James somehow made me come to the conclusion that it would be worth trying some time. I still owe this to him.

The financial planning world and the USA Financial family lost two good men recently. I’ll always remember how James lit up when I shared the news of my first daughter being born, stressing that there is nothing quite like the father-daughter relationship. I saw the same thing with Ray, as I was fortunate enough to witness his love for his daughter Emily, who worked alongside him in their financial practice.  There is nothing quite like that relationship, and the loss of these two men has reminded me to squeeze each of my three daughters a little tighter…

To James and Ray… THANK YOU for sharing all that you did with me. You left a legacy here at USA Financial and a permanent imprint on my heart.

 

Fondly,

Mark

 

 

This picture of Ray captures his classic smirk.

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I think these two photos of James illustrate two things – his wonderful skill and compassion as a listener, and of course his unforgettable laugh.

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These days won’t last forever

Last night was an unusual and highly coincidental night.

For starters, I should warn you that this post is more philosophical and about life in general than anything. Writing is nothing new for me, but this blogging thing is a bit of a newer endeavor. I’ve been told and have read that I need to schedule my time to write posts. I understand the reason, but inspiration hits you at different points. Today, for me, it was at 5:40 am … as I reflected upon “the night that was.”

Shortly before we got into our bedtime routine with our girls, I had a conversation with a close family member who has been going through some difficult times. He’s been battling with depression and other challenges. I was sharing with him that this chapter in his life will be over and the next chapter has yet to be written. My exact comment to him was “these days won’t last forever.”

Less than an hour later, I found myself reading the third book of the night to our soon-to-be 3-year-old daughter. She’s at the phase in life where she has mastered the most important rule in sales – don’t accept the answer “no.” Frankly, if I could get her to understand a few basics about expense ratios, asset allocation, risk, and the importance of reliable retirement income, she’d probably pick up more clients in a week than most financial advisors do all year. She’s that cute … and that convincing.

We finished the third book, and I reminded her that it was time to go to bed. She was quick to remind me, “Daddy, I’m already in bed.” It’s hard to argue with good reasoning. She needed me to define my wishes more clearly. “Charleigh, it’s time to go to sleep.”

“But I want you to tell me a story …”

Pretty hard to say no to that. After making up two “once upon a time” stories, my request for her to go to sleep became a little more stern.

As she rolled over, I pulled her blanket up to cover her shoulders. And just as I was ready to declare victory for the evening, she broke out the kryptonite.

“Daddy, will you cuddle with me.”

That was only the jab. The right hook came when she dialed up the sweetness factor 40 notches and whispered, “Will you hold me?”

If we’re really smooth and clicking on all cylinders, our bedtime routine for our two little ones can usually be tackled inside of 25 minutes (assuming the bathtub didn’t enter the equation). Last night … I lost track around the 2-hour mark.

But as I cuddled up to my sweet, little, Jedi-mind-tricking daughter, only one thing came to mind … “These days won’t last forever.”

And yet … that’s not the end of the story.

Since I prefer the comfort of my own bed, the next step in the process is to pull off a “Yoga-esque-Mission Impossible” style maneuver to quietly and gracefully exit the bed and the room. Since the end result is inevitably a pulled muscle, I know I’ll be up for a little bit yet.

I wrapped my night up by reading a few chapters from The Energy Bus, by Jon Gordon.

It’s a book I try to read every now and again, when I’m needing the reminder about the importance of surrounding yourself with positive thoughts (and people).

Ironically, the theme of the last chapter I read could most easily be described in one sentence …

These days won’t last forever.

And with that, a few nuggets of advice to end this post on:

  1. Stop spending so much money on sales consulting courses and books. Volunteer at a day care. I’d suggest the 2.5- to 4-year-old room for the most effective training.
  2. If you have the privilege of putting little kiddos or grand-kiddos to bed at night, might I suggest something larger than a twin-size bed.
  3. If you’re feeling like the positive energy just gets sucked out of you throughout the day, or if you are simply not starting the day with much positive energy, give that book a try. It’s profoundly simple.
  4. Lastly, … in the financial industry, like all others, just remember – these days won’t last forever. If your days are tough now, have the fortitude to push through. If the days are great now, have the wisdom to make the best of them.

Enjoy,

Mark