The Neely family has been a safe set of hands for generations of families and, now with a move to Main Street, Inspire Confidence Group looks to build upon their own legacy by safeguarding others' legacies.
"My family has been in Williamstown for a long time ... people know us," Neely said. "We want to be here, and we are members of this community. We do business here to foster those relationships, and keep those ties going."
Inspire Confidence Group, which is part of Ameriprise Financial, Inc., offers a range of services including comprehensive financial planning, investment management, family finances, estate planning, and wealth preservation strategies.
All this is done with a personal touch, trust, and understanding as Neely's roots are deep in Berkshire County and Williamstown.
"For many families, we are basically their chief financial officers and are really involved in so many facets of their lives," he said. "It is a multigenerational practice, working with the parents, children and grandchildren. At one point I had a client who was 100 years old and one who was 18."
Neely has a family history in finance - his father, Tom Neely, was a financial advisor in Berkshire County since the early 1980s. So while it is in his blood, Neely approaches financial advising differently because he came to it differently.
Before Ameriprise, Neely was a professional actor in New York City for 11 years. He went to graduate school for acting and even moved into television production where he worked as an associate producer on the popular game show "Cash Cab."
While acting, he stayed close with his father, who often extended the invitation to come back to Berkshire County. Neely eventually did in 2007 when he joined his father at Neely Investments Inc., part of Wachovia Financial Network, in Pittsfield.
"He and I are very similar, and I could always tell he loved his job," Neely said. "I was focused on acting at the time but after a while, I decided I wanted to leave New York and start a family and do more in my life. So, I came up to join him."
So Neely made a big change in 2007 - the perfect time to join the industry.
"The 2008 financial crash. It was a great time to start," Neely laughed. "Actually it was. I got to see major market events up close. If you're new to the business and the market has been going up for a decade or more, it is easy to think that is normal and get lulled into complacency. After seeing the crash at the beginning of my career, I'm very aware that could happen again and I want to protect my clients from that."
Wachovia was eventually absorbed by Wells Fargo and, in 2016; the Neelys moved their office to 24 Water St. in Williamstown and joined Ameriprise Financial, Inc., as Neely Financial Advisors.
During this time, Neely became well acquainted with the Inspire Confidence Group, another Ameriprise franchise based in Albany, N.Y. Managing partner and founder Sasa Mirkovic became a mentor and friend.
In 2018, Neely's father Tom unexpectedly died. Not only was this heartbreaking for the Neely family, but to Tom's clients, many of whom had been with him since the beginning. As the torch was now fully passed on to Neely, he began to deal more directly with the clients who had previously worked with his father.
"After my father died several of my clients told me that he was their best friend which was so nice to hear," he said. "I had no idea and thought that was an amazing thing. I am a lot like him. I am very close to these people."
This people-first philosophy comes naturally to Neely and is the cornerstone of his work with the Inspire Confidence Group.
"It all comes down to client goals. What are they looking for? Often it is retirement or college savings," he said. "It really
depends on the client and their particular situation ... it all comes down to homing in on those client goals and helping them achieve those goals through financial planning."
In 2019, Neely Financial Advisors merged with the Inspire Confidence Group to become its Massachusetts office. Now,
Inspire Confidence Group enters into a new chapter as it moves to the new office on Main Street. A move that will allow it to continue to grow.
"We certainly are looking to grow. There is more office space," he said. "We couldn't grow in our old office, if we were to add more advisors ... we are in growth mode."
He said they have close relationships with tax professionals, attorneys, and others to help clients navigate the tricky waters of trust and estate planning.
But as mentioned before, Neely said it is first important to figure out what exactly clients want before rolling out the different services Ameriprise offers. He said peoples' goals, aspirations, and wants are just as important as the actual numbers.
"Even a husband and wife may have different goals, and they have different points of view and financial behaviors," he said. "Then you add in children and grandparents and you have a lot of different opinions and desires. We want to get everyone on the same page and make everybody happy."
Neely said Inspire Confidence Group wants to help clients set the groundwork for a happy future as well as build those safeguards that will help future generations succeed. They often look after a family's finances for decades.
"It is very common for me to have grandparents, children, and grandchildren as clients. I really get to know these families well," he said. "Personally I love the grandparents. Many of them were clients of my father. Over the years their families have grown, and I love having those relationships. I love these people and many of them I have known since long before I was in the business."
Although Neely has clients all over the country, many of them are local or have connections to Berkshire County. Neely is in many cases offering assistance to friends, family, and the larger community. And this is in line with Neely's own legacy. This is clear after a quick glimpse at his own family tree.
"My grandmother Dorothy Hickey started Sweet Brook Nursing Home," he said. "She was a nurse and stay-at-home mom who got together with a few local doctors and started the nursing home in her own house, taking in patients."
When his mother, Elaine Neely, moved back to the area she worked at the nursing home, which had moved to Cold Spring Road, and eventually became the administrator. She later founded the Sweetwood continuing care retirement community next door.
The family no longer owns the facilities.
"I grew up running around the halls of Sweet Brook so a lot of those people who worked there remember me as a kid," he said. "My family took care of generations, and I feel that way with my clients, too. That is my favorite part of the business."
Neely said this really ties into his holistic approach to financial advising. He said his goal is to simplify the often times
complicated financial landscape for people so it is one less thing they have to worry about.
"There are a lot of moving parts," Neely said. "There are people who get further along in their careers, they are making more money and they have more responsibilities ... it is something a lot of people have little time for because they have busy lives. It is all homework for them."
This is where Inspire Confidence Group comes in, and its services come in different forms.
In terms of legacy planning, he encourages having this often uncomfortable conversation early on. Neely said he has seen disputed wills cause issues.
"We never want to see that so we set it up ahead of time and direct your assets exactly where you want them to go so there is no confusion," he said. "... When you are gone, you know your family is provided for according to your wishes."
When it comes to investing, Neely said clients can be as involved as they want. “We have some clients who take an avid interest and are involved in investment selection and some who give us discretion to run our in-house investment models on their behalf.”
Either way, Neely said Inspire Confidence Group works to guide investments. Pointing to the Inspire Confidence Group's motto, he said they want to inspire confidence by simplifying your life and reducing stress.
In a different environment, some would consider Neely to be in the wellness business, which is not far from the truth. It is no coincidence that Neely is also a yoga instructor whose main goal is to help people live happier, more fulfilling lives.
"I also teach yoga ... I am full service. I will get your body and mind and finances in shape," he laughed. "But truly it is wellness. It is totally holistic in many ways. It is financial wellness and it is also familial wellness."
Neely said, for many, now is the perfect time to sit down for a free consultation with Inspire Confidence Group. With many looking to make changes in their lives during the pandemic, a steady financial bedrock is needed.
"Any time someone is in transition is one of the key times when I feel I can be helpful because that is when you are charting a new path and setting things in place that will support whatever your new venture is," Neely said. "It is these moments of change where people put the pieces on the chessboard, and they make the decisions that will affect the next many years of their lives."
Whether it's starting a new career, selling your house, setting up an inheritance, or moving, Neely said a guiding hand can do a world of good.
For those who may have put a little money aside during the pandemic, he said Inspire Confidence Group can also help them direct it in a productive direction.
"Some people have spent a lot less money, staying at home, so they were able to build up some savings and a cushion," he said. "At the same time, the market is doing well after the big drop at the start of the pandemic. Those things can be very beneficial to people who want to make a change."
And Neely would like to extend this hand to potential new clients reflecting on their own lives and finances. Schedule a free consultation and get in touch with Neely if you are interested in any of the services he and the Inspire Confidence Group offer.
"I am a people person. That is what is important to me. The finance stuff is a way to help people," Neely said. "I think what we offer is a lot of reassurance because people know that a big part of their life is under control. That stress is gone."
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