How Kevin Neal’s Small Town Upbringing Got him to the Top
Today we meet Kevin Neal, the founder of Moenio – a client advocacy firm focused exclusively on providing guidance to their clients when working with financial advisors, brokers, bankers, and their firms.
I’ll start with the ending, the business I created after 20-years in finance – Moenio. Moenio is a disruptor. A company created to break up what investors have known and trusted for the past 50 years. There were three experiences during my life that led me to believe a company like Moenio was needed and that the time was right.
I grew up in Chattanooga, Tennessee. A small town, by some standards, with a little over 300,000 on a good day, tourists included. With the Tennessee River winding through the city and mountains cascading from various angles, it’s a mecca for outdoor activity– water skiing, kayaking, fishing, and even a hang gliding facility.
The first experience was when my parents made me buy my first car. Easy enough – I work, I get a car. I don’t work; my brother drives me if he wishes. With that in mind, I had to go find a job. I ended up at a restaurant where I started as a dishwasher. Not something noble, but a great place to start – I learned quickly that there were opportunities to be had. I could bus the tables for the waiters, be the “happy hour” set-up person, and more. These had nothing to do with skill, as I found out, but were more about appearances. I realized that all of the waiters, managers, and owner were making decisions on “appearances” rather than skill. Lesson one was people give undo credit to appearances.
The second experience was after I sold the regional investment advisory company I had built for over eight years. When I was contemplating the sale, I was reading about learning languages and immersion programs around the world. I thought, why not sell and immerse myself? I spent two years living in Spain, Malaga and Madrid, taking Spanish classes and traveling. It was a wonderful experience, but, more importantly, a valuable lesson when I came back to the states. Whenever I began speaking Spanish the reaction was two-fold; wow, you speak Spanish (remember, I’m from Tennessee) and you must be smart. Lesson two was people give credit to intelligence in the wrong way sometimes.
The third experience was spending ten years with one of the largest wealth management firms in the world. I started on the corporate side supporting financial advisors when meeting with high-net worth and ultra high net worth clients. My role was simple, help support the financial advisors when meeting with prospective clients and current clients in all capacities – basically help them close or keep their clients. I attended over 1,000 client meetings with 300+ different advisors. I was able to see every conceivable path used by advisors and brokers to gain clients and keep them. Lesson three was the first two lessons combined: many people make decisions on what they perceive through appearances and intelligence without actually knowing it to be true.
Moenio was created from these experiences and has one goal – making certain our clients are working with the best financial advisors, bankers and advisors. We know appearances and impressions can be misleading so we verify the quality of advice and the performance being delivered. Our clients do not leave meetings with their advisors confused – we make certain the information being delivered and advice are sound. Our clients do not have doubts about their advisors – we rate their advisors in over 15+ areas to add confidence.
As for my personal style:
Jeans: 7FORALLMANKIND, straight cut. It is simple and comfortable.
Suits: Ever since I left behind the corporate life I have not put on a suit. I do wear a jacket to client meetings – Brunello Cucinelli or Brioni.
Accessories: I wear no accessories, except when playing golf – a baseball cap – or out on the boat – a Peter Grimm Lifeguard Dover. Heading into meetings for business I always take my Dunhill leather executive folio.
Outerwear: Mission Workshop parkas for weather
Favorite Cologne: D’Orsay
Favorite piece of technology: Sous Vide cooking system by Polyscience
Next tech purchase: DJI Phantom 4 drone