CEO Spotlight: Greg Heller, CEO of HCR Wealth Advisors

What’s the story behind how you became a financial advisor and got to where you are?
When I was in college, I really enjoyed corporate finance classes and classes on economics. I took a masters class (upper division) that focused on stocks, bonds, and the markets (NYSE, NASDAQ). From there, I became interested in how companies are financed and how valuations were done and why people were willing to buy some and not others.

I was lucky to have great professors that allowed me to develop a love for the industry itself. Most importantly, I like helping people. I understand why economics, finance, and money are so troubling for people, and yet those topics come/feel so easy to me when it comes to providing an answer. I was able to be a good backstop to different people and give them a direction.

I enjoy going through the whole span — their family, occupation, etc — and talk about what they enjoy which is often linked with money. It has been interesting to be with my clients, which is what I enjoy. I enjoy hearing their success stories.

What are your favorite aspects of the job? Do you have any cherished moments that stand out to you?
I just really enjoy helping people. I was fortunate enough to help start a company that was able to sell for 450 million 4 years ago. It is a story of family — 2 brothers and a sister. They did not come from the most comfortable lifestyle, so they did not want to live like that forever. The sister is a futurist — she is able to know what will be popular.

I wanted to know what chair to buy for the office, and 6 months later the chair that she picked was in Restoration Magazine. The other two brothers were in finance and entrepreneurship. One of them sold posters, and the sister quit her job and added other things to store while the other brother handled finance. Soon, they expanded to 76 outlets and were doing 100s of millions in sales.

What I love the most about the story is that although they had many material things, they were so humble. They never forgot where they came from and were generous and kind, while being very street-smart or wise. Most of all, they were fearless — which for many gets in the way because they don’t take risk. In 06/07, they had to file for bankruptcy, but they rose like the phoenix.

What are some cases/situations with clients that you are most proud of where you added memorable value to their lives?
Due to this pandemic crisis, we have been able to help clients with where they are at personally or career-wise. We had one client who worked for one of the major U.S. entertainment studios for 25 years. His media studio was sold, and the person at the other company was chosen instead of my client to lead the combined company, so he basically had to step down. His first feeling was shock and disappointment. We were able to then think it through and figure out what to do next.

Another client that comes to mind was assistant police chief who spent time as a security instructor in Afghanistan to our troops. She later set up her own security company, and because of COVID-19, a lot of the companies she works with do not have the need for her services because many stores are not open. She has changed her business approach to broaden the services that she provides in response to the current crisis. She is also looking for opportunities to conduct a strategic merger or partnership as another way to grow her business.

Any hobbies outside of your career that help you as an effective advisor/leader?
I am a member of several social clubs (both professional and personal) and I participate in sports (skiing, riding, swimming, etc). I’m social so I like to be around people.

What does a typical workday look like for you?
I work out in the morning, come into the office (pre-COVID) at 7:30–8, home at 7 unless I have a client dinner or meeting. I don’t have a structure during the times I am in the office. It depends on what pops up — what happens in the lives of my clients (ex. death, health complications, college, etc). While I certainly have scheduled meetings and appointments, I try to structure my day so that I can also be available and responsive to clients on short notice.

Did you have a mentor early on in your career? If so, what lessons did they teach you to help you grow as a professional?
A cousin of mine ran a meat processing company and gave me an opportunity to work there and shadow the different areas. I was able to learn the business from the ground up. I started on the cutting floor and eventually saw how meatpacking and shipping worked. Eventually, I was able to see how finance and accounting worked, which also helped a lot.

What are some common misconceptions about your industry?

  • You can just open up an office and start working. We cannot. We are the second most regulated industry on the planet. You must be willing to work under a certain set of regulatory rules and guidelines. This business is extremely structured and regulated.
  • Wealth management allows an advisor to simply sit back and relax. No, the business is constantly moving. If you do not stay up-to-date, you will be left behind.

What trends excite you most about the future of your industry?
We are in such a great place to see businesses emerge out of this pandemic. We will see transformation from how we did things in the past to how we do things in the future. There will be great demand for jobs and an increase in consumer demand as the confidence grows in public health and safety. We will see incredible growth in all sectors. There is so much access to capital, which has been a huge obstacle to growth but will not be once we begin to emerge from this pandemic. I’m very bullish on what I see ahead.

Originally published at on August 13, 2020.

*This article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered investment advice.