Meet Jason Graper, CFP®, Associate Financial Advisor in Allegheny Financial Group's MAM Group. In this interview, Jason shares what childhood experiences shaped the person he is today, what book he is currently reading, and the one piece of financial advice he would offer clients.
What childhood experiences shaped the person you are today? When I was 18 years old, my life took an abrupt 90-degree turn. My mother passed away unexpectedly while she was at work. While this may not technically be a childhood experience, this was a moment that has defined my life and personality. I learned a lot from this experience, and it was a mixture of emotions and realizations. I was sad, and life became much harder. Eventually, I realized many children out there lost a parent at a much younger age, and I became grateful for the time I had with my mother. I made many missteps while working my way through these emotions. I found myself forcing ideas of worth and telling friends what they should care about because they "did not understand" what was important. Eventually, I realized that different people have different values tied to their life experiences. This taught me to really listen to people when they talk about what is important to them and why. It helped me understand and accept people for who they are. Helping people reach their goals became a part of my life and is why I chose this career and why I love it.
What is something interesting about you that would surprise someone? I can talk about sports, finance, and movies all day long. Something most people do not know about me is that I am an avid reader. From Lee Child and Tom Clancy books to Branden Sanderson and George R.R. Martin, reading helps me settle my mind and sleep at night.
What book are you currently reading? Work related: Extreme Ownership: How US Navy Seals Lead and Win. I just started this book at the suggestion of a colleague. The book demonstrates the qualities and principles of leadership and how to apply them in business, at companies, and in leadership in the civilian sector. Personal reading: I am currently rereading Tom Clancy's, Executive Orders. This book is a part of the Jack Ryan series and has to do with rebuilding the government, exploring the IRS, and many other themes that are still relevant today.
How do you like to spend time outside of the office? Well, I would like to tell you a list of things I enjoy. But, as parents with children know, most of my time is spent driving, watching, encouraging, and supporting my children. I have a six-year-old and a one-year-old, and I enjoy being a dad and spending time with them. When I get the chance to select our activity, I will pick hiking. I enjoy hiking and waterfalls. My most recent hike was in Cooks Forest to Henry Mills Sawmill Dam Falls. It was a short enough hike that my son and father could join me. I would recommend it to anyone with younger children.
What are you a fan of? (sports team, band, school, etc.) The Pittsburgh Steelers. Some of my favorite memories are when my family would gather around the TV with snacks and watch the game together. Being a fan of the Steelers in this town provides a sense of community that is hard to describe. Plus, the games are brought up in regular conversation between strangers waiting in line or while watching your kids’ activities.
Fries on your salad or on the side? I am from Pittsburgh, so fries on the salad.
Which do you prefer: Pierogis or Primanti’s? Pierogis.
What is one piece of financial advice you offer clients? Make a plan; in my eyes, it is the single most important thing to do. Everyone has goals and priorities, and the plan is how you are going to get there. Life is a series of financial decisions; which house to buy, which car to buy, home improvements, how much can I pay for college, and a life-work balance. Knowing how these decisions affect your plan gives you the facts you need to make the decisions. Goals and priorities are flexible, and as they change so does your plan.
What are some important things to consider when choosing a financial planner? I think the most important thing is whether you get along. You should certainly do some research and make sure the financial planner is licensed and falls under a fiduciary obligation. Above that though, make sure they listen to you and understand what your goals are. A common misconception is that financial planners want you to save every last penny; we don't. I want you to live your life to the fullest today and tomorrow. Does that mean saving money for the future? Yes, but it also means living now. There can be a healthy balance between the two that you are comfortable with. Make sure you feel like your financial planner understands that balance.
What are your favorite kinds of clients to work with, and why? Human beings, animals make terrible clients.
What do you think are the most important steps people can take to improve their financial well-being? The most important step a person can take is getting started. While that seems simple, it often proves to be the easiest step to put off. The second step you need to take is to understand what is coming in and what is going out of your finances. Most people (myself included) do not realize where all their money goes.
Allegheny Financial Group is a Registered Investment Advisor. Securities offered through Allegheny Investments, LTD, a registered Broker/Dealer. Member FINRA/SIPC.