Jeff Crosby manages his time about as efficiently as one can. That two of his favorite sayings are, “If you want something done, give it to a busy person,“ and, “If you bite off more than you can chew, just chew a little faster,” is testament to Crosby’s belief that efficiency is necessary for his continued success as a business owner and as an elite triathlete who several times has qualified for the Ironman World Championship in Hawaii. Crosby’s motto: maximize the moment.
“I typically don’t waste a workout or a meeting,” the Clyde Hill resident said. “I value sleep, but I think it can be overused. There have been several times during the heavy part of my Ironman training where I had a 9 a.m. meeting, and I already had completed a five-hour bike ride. I had to leave at 3:30 a.m., in the dark, but I got it done and was totally focused for my meetings.”
Life pretty much always has been that way for Crosby. The Clyde Hill resident is one of Barron’s Top 1,200 Financial Advisers and owns Crosby & Associates in Kirkland. Crosby also recently launched a new business, 3xEquity, that helps other wealth managers grow and transition their businesses.
Transitioning is something Crosby knows plenty about. After graduating from Seattle’s Tyee High School, Crosby helped lead Westmont College’s basketball team to the NAIA Final Four in 1984. Crosby returned to Seattle after graduation and spent a few years working for Xerox Corp. before returning to Santa Barbara, California, to become an assistant basketball coach and director of athletic fund raising at Westmont. Crosby became interim head coach of the school in 1992. At the time, he was the youngest head men’s college basketball coach in the U.S.
“It was pretty funny,” Crosby said, “because the Santa Barbara News-Press ran a feature story on me and the headline was, ‘Westmont Hires Ex-Xerox Salesman.’”
Crosby returned to Seattle the following year and jumped into his current career field.
“My financial adviser and good friend kept encouraging me to get into the financial-planning industry, so I did,” Crosby said. “The first day on the job, I asked him, ‘How can somebody be successful in this business?’ He responded: ‘Nobody has been able to get inside Microsoft.’ That was the first door I knocked on, and two years later they hired me as the financial educator of choice for their employees. That is how I built my career.”
Crosby recently talked with 425 Business about that career, his plans to give back in 2016, and to offer some financial advice he’s gained over the years.
Q. Some may not understand that one size doesn’t fit all when it comes to financial advisers. You, for example, are a private wealth adviser. What is that?
A. A private wealth adviser is a marketing brand that means we typically work with families or higher-net worth individuals. And we do, but the reality for myself and my team is we like to work with those clients and families who are receptive to advice. We have found a lot of success working with technology professionals. They are busy and wickedly smart but they place high value on a partnership and transparency, and that is how we work.
Q. Can you tell me about your “cookie jar” philosophy?
A. The cookie jar concept is simple but profound: How much money in today’s dollars do you have that is above and beyond the money you need to reach all your goals for the rest of your life? For example, if you need $2 million to reach your goals (retirement, kids’ college, travel, college for grandkids) and you have $2.5 million, your cookie jar is $500,000. I have found it gives our clients great comfort knowing what they have above and beyond their goals. It is a concept that also helps the client enjoy peace of mind when spending money. You might be surprised — there are a lot of people who don’t fully enjoy spending their money because most people have the inherent fear of running out of money. Most people don’t talk about it, but nobody wants to be faced with changing their lifestyle, especially in the area where we live.
Q. If you had to classify your typical Eastside client, who would that be?
A. I seem to work best with the software- or technology-type professionals. I don’t work as well with aerospace professionals because they come into my office with their own self-made graphs and charts and tell me what the financial world will be like in a few years.
In 2016, I will be taking a slightly different approach. I am going to really try to reach out to my clients and others and help educate their kids about finance and take some of that burden away from parents. I am going to host after-school luncheons at my office and teach the basic concepts of the time value of money, saving long-term, good debt, and bad debt. I love giving back to the community, and this will be one way to do that. And I figure the parents might learn a little something as well. I have done this several times for my clients’ kids, and they have always appreciated it.
Q. What can you tell us about your new venture, 3xEquity?
A. We recently have had a lot of expansion in services and solutions. Before, we had a focus on business valuations for advisers and all that entails, such as structuring deal terms, tax analysis, financing, etc. One new addition, for example, is the “Make Me Move” price (used by real estate firm Zillow), but for the financial services industry. With this, financial advisers can anonymously obtain an offer from a competing broker dealer. The financial adviser then determines if they want to release their name. We are getting tremendous traction to our site after two years of building it. It is a lot of fun.
Q. What was it that drew you to the Eastside, and what keeps you here?
A. Microsoft hired me to be the financial adviser and educator for their employees back in 1998. I did hundreds of seminars at Microsoft. We are grateful to live in Clyde Hill and in such a beautiful area in general. We love the people and being involved in the community. I have coached youth basketball the past 20 years and love working with the kids and becoming close friends with the parents. We like supporting Boys & Girls Clubs of Bellevue, as well as other organizations. My friend Robbie Bach (a board member of the local Boys & Girls club) challenges us to be civic leaders, and I revel in that responsibility.
Q. How do you find time for it all?
A. I have a great team of 15 employees with a combined experience in the financial industry of well over 100 years. One of the keys to my success has been building such a great team. Our members have developed systems for all aspects of the practice. My team is regularly invited to speak and train the top advisers in the company about the systems they have developed over the years.
We also try to be very efficient in our approach and advice. I meet with all of my clients on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I treat it like it is game day, or race morning before an Ironman. I am focused, totally dialed in, and excited to give the best advice possible. Regarding vision, that typically falls on me.
Q. If you had one minute to offer financial guidance, what would you share?
A. More money is not better: “Enough” is all that you need. And do they know what their cookie jar is? Finally, I would ask them if they are open to a second opinion, because I would be happy to offer them one.
This article originally appeared in the February 2016 issue of 425 Business.