Contact: 800-206-5030
support@redtailtechnology.com

Business Hours Sales:
Mon-Fri 8am-4pm
Pacific Time
Ext. 2

Support:
Mon-Fri 5am-5pm
Pacific Time
Ext. 3

Corporate & Billing:
Mon-Fri 7am-4pm
Pacific Time
Ext. 4
Redtail Technology > Redtail Advisor Hero: Sheldon Sweeney
Advisor Hero logo

Be yourself. Either you forge connections, or you discover opportunities for self-improvement.”

Sheldon Sweeney

Transition Fair 2020 - Sheldon Sweeney at the desk
Snider logo
Sheldon Sweeney

A hero dedicated to finding common ground through collaborative communities of care

Sheldon Sweeney, a Wealth Advisor with Snider Financial Group in Bellevue, WA, indicates the best piece of advice he ever received was given to him decades ago prior to a job interview in the maritime industry. It came from a buddy 30 years his senior, who told him: “Just be yourself!” Sheldon credits that mentor and others he had while working in the maritime industry (after graduating from California Maritime Academy with a B.S. Degree in Nautical Industrial Technology) with much of his ongoing success: “If you are yourself, people relate to you in some way, or they aren’t meant to be your friends. If you’re yourself and an interaction is a total failure, you think, ‘Hey, I have to work on myself and next time around I’ll be better’”. Either way, he says, “you forge connections, or you discover opportunities for self-improvement”.

Sheldon’s transition after many years of working in the maritime industrial marketplace to financial services was largely sparked by a combination of three factors: the desire to have more time to spend with his wife and children, the opportunity to be more engaged in others’ lives, and a recurring suggestion from his own insurance agent that he’d be good at the profession. Says Sheldon, “Financial services wasn’t something I ever thought I’d do, but I came into the industry through the life insurance side, as opposed to the investing side. I liked that entry-point as it immediately correlated to families and the protection aspect of the industry. From there, I just kept progressing, adding one thing after another – financial planning, security licensing, and the other things I needed to effectively service the niche I’ve established”.

Though no longer a part of the maritime industry, Sheldon is still an avid water enthusiast. While he grew up surfing and swimming competitively in Australia, Colorado, and California (on the move as part of a military family), since moving to the Pacific Northwest over thirty years ago Sheldon now frequently participates in year-round open water swims. He says, “It’s a great passion of mine, swimming through open waters with other swimmers – it’s a whole subculture. Psychologically it calms you down – mentally, it toughens you up. I’ve told my kids, ‘If you can make yourself swim in really cold water, other challenges in your life will seem easy'”.

Sheldon Sweeney
Wealth Advisor with
Snider Financial Group

The difference maker is: do you like, trust, and want to build a relationship with your advisor that can last 30+ years? I’m looking for long term relationships – not transactional ones.

Sweeney family

Lessons from his grandfather

All of our kids are such better citizens because of growing up with a special needs sibling. It’s the opposite story of the Grinch – they all have hearts that are 5X too big”.

As Sheldon has shared the value of his life experiences with his children, he lovingly looks back at time spent with his grandfather, soaking in everything those experiences offered him. “I look at my grandfather who was heavily involved in Rotary – he took me on a lot of his events even though I was a young guy. In addition to all the fun stuff (like being put on an open-doored helicopter at a marine base, flown however many miles out into the Pacific to an aircraft carrier and spending the night as it came back into port), he was constantly introducing me to his business partners, always talking about business. He’s always my person I bring to mind if I’m not sure what to do next. ‘What would Gramps do — he’d put out his hand and he’d start a conversation!’ He was a natural at networking within the business community and would take time to have a conversation with anyone.”

Not surprisingly, Sheldon himself has been a member of the Bellevue Breakfast Rotary Club for years. He’s involved in an effort to kick off vocational services in the club, helping businesses network with each other and promote each other’s businesses, as well as mentoring younger business people who may want to join Rotary. They sponsor a 5k and a 10k Run/Walk every year called All In for Autism. “It was virtual last year, but still phenomenally successfully”, says Sheldon.

He goes on, “Rotary is a powerful organization for people who want to donate to causes – I think at the time of my grandfather’s involvement with San Diego Rotary in the 1970s I was around 10-12 years old. I remember guys in stylish plaid golf pants with glasses of scotch and big belt buckles who seemed to do a lot of business together. I thought, ‘Man these guys really drink a lot and have fancy pants!’” he laughs. “It’s a bit of a different vibe now – a little bit lighter on the scotch, but we still do a lot of business together and a lot of charitable work. And the mentoring, which I think has been a little bit lost in our culture: Rotary gives a venue for that, which is something that should be happening nationally”.

I’d like to bring people joy and hope. I think faith and hope and love are the cardinal virtues. If we can help people focus on those areas there will be more peace in people’s lives.

Two natural niches

The two niches where Sheldon places his focus extend directly from his own experiences. When asked what motivates him, Sheldon says, “It’s always my passion for the family, so I’ve gravitated toward these two niches of 1) retirement planning, and 2) planning for families who have a person with special needs. When retiring you’re worried about leaving what you’ve been so invested in – what will happen to my friends circle, what will I do when I’m not getting a paycheck, where is money coming from? These are super emotional questions”.

“I have five adult children myself, and my youngest daughter, who is 18, has Down syndrome. There are so many planning questions involved when one has a special needs child. There is also overlap with many of the emotional questions faced by those planning for retirement – when clients invite me in to be a part of these conversations, that’s what gets me going every day. If you disregard the emotional aspects of the relationship, you don’t get to have deeper relationships with clients”.

Outside of Rotary, Sheldon surrounds himself with a network of people that complement the goals he is trying to accomplish. He indicates that a lack of self-confidence was one of his greatest challenges early on in this industry, because what one needs to know can seem so comprehensive. “Initially, there is a confidence battle – you have to come to an understanding you can’t do it all yourself. Surround yourself with people in different disciplines who are go-tos in addition to our team at Snider Financial Group. On the retirement side, with all the iterations of planning such as Medicare, Medicare Supplements, Social Security, Taxes, Insurance, – I have a team of professionals I am able to introduce to my clients. And, on the special needs side, issues like future housing, independent living, variations of health insurance available that are not normally on the retail side that come up, but I have a special needs network of about twenty professionals. We meet monthly, talk about what’s going on in our disciplines. Speech pathologists, life skills coaches, you name it. It was initially built around parents with special needs kids and was group therapy for all of us. It can be stressful at times, but we learn from and rely upon each other”.

Sheldon also believes in lifetime learning which has bolstered his confidence through continuing education. He has earned multiple professional designations from the American College of Financial Services: RICP® ChSNC® CHFC®

Sheldon maintains a focus on expanding his business in the special needs community as well as in the community of those stressed about retirement and what that’s going to look like. He says, “I had a conversation the other day with someone looking to fundraise for a community center that focuses on programming for special needs kids in our area. In most states, for kids that have special needs, there’s a point after age 21 where servicing and programs geared toward them kind of just disappears. This individual was looking to carry on with activities and opportunities for young adults; I’m looking forward to collaborating on that”.

Sheldon is effusive about “the enormous impact involvement with the special needs community can have on individuals and organizations. Getting a glimpse into their life . . .” Sheldon pauses for a moment before continuing, “All of our kids are such better citizens because of growing up with a special needs sibling. It’s the opposite story of the Grinch – they all have hearts that are 5X too big”

An advocate for finding common ground

When engaging with potential clients, Sheldon indicates he puts the relationship aspect first. “Surprise, surprise,” he laughs. “But it’s really true. At the end of the day the numbers are going to be close. The difference maker is: do you like, trust, and want to build a relationship with your advisor that can last 30+ years? I’m looking for long term relationships – not transactional ones.

When asked what impact he wants to have on people’s lives, Sheldon doesn’t hesitate in answering, “I’d like to bring people joy and hope. I think faith and hope and love are the cardinal virtues. If we can help people focus on those areas there will be more peace in people’s lives. Every person we meet there is 80-90% of things we agree on. Why focus on the 10% we don’t? We should hear each other out and focus on all the things we have in common. Let’s talk about music, or dogs – find those areas of common ground to build upon”.

We’re sure his grandfather, hand extended and ready for a conversation, would have proudly agreed.

Do you know an Advisor Hero who uses Redtail?