Elliot Omanson – Deploying Success
About Elliot Omanson
I entered the Financial business after serving in the US Army. During that time, I watched my two younger brothers build their career as Investment Advisors. Being able to capitalize on their experiences allowed me to identify early on what kind of firm I wanted to be a part of. Earning my Series 7, 66 and Life and Health licenses and joining Sage Financial Inc. as an Independent Investment Advisor Representative gave me the opportunity to learn from a family that brought the values I was looking for to the financial investment business. That foundation continues to be the foundation upon which everything I do today rests. Serving in the Military, and helping people in war torn countries, truly gave me a sense of pride. Knowing I was able to help people in such circumstances, brought a level of enjoyment to my work I did not feel I would ever experience again. Serving as an Investment Advisor Representative has continued to allow me the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives. I have since purchased Sage Financial Inc. and re-branded the company to OWLFI. We have moved locations and expanded. We have launched OWLFI Tax and Accounting and OWLFI Insurance. We have partnered up with the Law Offices of DD Clark. We have in house professionals of legal, tax, insurance, and Medicare specialty’s all in an effort to better serve our clients. Through it all, we continue to hold to the values and ethics the Sharp family brought to Sage Financial and will continue to do so regardless of how we grow.
Alan Olsen: Welcome to today’s show. I’m here visiting with Elliot Omanson today. Elliot, welcome.
Elliot Omanson: Hey, thank you for having me.
Alan Olsen: So Elliot, you have a very unique and diverse background for the listeners, can you tell us your story of how you got to where you are today?
Elliot Omanson: Okay, all right, yeah. So I think my entire life story just based around the fact that I didn’t do well or fit in very well at school. And so it caused me a lot of problems. I was just one of those headache children. For the teachers. I’m sure that today, I’d be diagnosed with ADD or something of that nature. I just knew from an early age, I was never like, school just wasn’t my thing. And then after getting out of high school, I did manage to make it through a two year mission for my church. But then after that, without I guess, without that structure, just struggled, struggled for probably the next 10 years. Now, somewhere around 25, I did get married, I had a kid, I’d have momentary blips of success in different areas, sometimes working for a company, sometimes on my own, trying to have my own business. But ultimately, everything just kind of kept ended in failure. And one of my dreams as a kid, there’s only a few things I ever wanted to do. Be in the military, own a business, get married, and have kids young, and go into politics. Now, I will tell you, I’ve struck that last one off my list, that will never happen. But somewhere around actually, when I met my wife, I was 25 is actually the process of trying to go into the military. I don’t know why I didn’t do it sooner. But she didn’t really she really didn’t want to be married to a guy in the service. So we didn’t do that, well, five years later after (now, at this point, I’m 30) still all the same problems I had as a kid in school, I’m still continuing to have only now I’m married with a kid and one on the way. I guess probably at that point, five years in, I had broken my wife’s will, so to speak. So pretty much at that point, anything I would do that would pay the bills and provide a consistent lifestyle she was okay with. And so at the age of 30, in the midst of the I don’t know how many people remember the surge in troops that was needed over in Iraq to deal with the resurgence of the problems over there. I was in a really rough spot. I think we had, I don’t know how personal I’m allowed to be here. But we’d probably been evicted twice, had my car repoed, had no vehicle 30 years old, married with one kid one on the way. And a friend of mine in the apartment complex that we were living in, join the Border Patrol. And it just brought back these memories of me wanting to go into the service. And so I was driving on the road in a rental extent even on a car. And I looked over to my left and I saw an army recruitment or Armed Forces recruitment center in San Bernardino, California. I pulled in I enlisted without even telling my wife went home and told her she was pretty unhappy. But for the next six years, I have found an incredible amount of success enlisted in the military. And so to be honest, I think probably going into the age of 30 probably helped with a lot of that. So this was the height of U.S. combat casualties overseas. My first unit that I got deployed with, they had already been over in Baghdad, they had actually been detailed with Guardian Saddam during his trial. So we were stationed at five union three in the green zone, which is home to a mausoleum and we’re one of the founders of the bath party had been buried. And so I get sent over there teamed up with them. The trial had been over. And we just did patrols in an area of Baghdad called Kata Sia, I think I spent nine months with them, came home and for the next six years, proceeded to rack up almost three years of combat time. And, and I it was like my first time of finding somewhere where I actually like, I succeeded, right. But it’s kind of a physical line of work. By the time I was 36. I knew I couldn’t keep doing that anymore. And I never intended to do it. As a career. I just really felt like the experience would be beneficial to me, and might help me learn some of the things that I needed to outside of the military. So after a little over five years, almost six years total time in I exited the army. And at that point in time, I had two brothers that had while I was in the military, they had gotten career started as financial advisors. And but they did it from a captive standpoint, with a big bank there with Chase, and they’re down in Florida, Boca Raton and Boynton Beach. And so they They really pushed me hard to follow their footsteps. Well, having been a soldier for six years spending, the better part of that time in a desert running around with a M4 in your hands and combat boots, that was the last thing I could envision was sitting in a room talking to old people about money. So it just didn’t interest me. So I spent about and to be honest, I think that I needed a little bit of time to transition mentally, from the military, to the civilian life. So after a couple years, actually, I had met a guy who had a small mom and pop and his daughter retirement planning business. And so for a year and three months, I’d meet with him once a month. And he kept trying to get me to come work for him. And finally, after we call it the world’s longest interview process, after a year, in three months, I went to work for him. And I found something where I could, where I seemed to fit in to it just as well as I did the military. And so that’s pretty much what kind of started me off on what I’m doing today.
Alan Olsen: So, Elliot, when you started up your company, what was it like getting your first customer?
Elliot Omanson: Yeah, well, that’s actually a, you know, very fortunate experience for me, right? If you think about how most people become financial advisors, right, I think they’re sat down at a desk in a cubicle, they’re given a yellow legal pad, they’re told to make a list of 100 people they know. And then they got to hound their friends, family and neighbors to get a client. Right? So that was one of the things that I told the gentleman that hired me, I was not willing to do, I actually have a rule, I won’t do business with friends, family neighbors. So that makes it hard to get started, if that’s the model that most people follow. So I told him, if I was going to come work for him, I wanted a legitimate marketing system that I could plug myself into and make use of, and he had one, and a lot of people are probably familiar with it, we were doing dinner seminars about how to connect Social Security and how to plan for Social Security, and how to tie that into your overall retirement plan. So three months on the job, I picked up my very first client, and it was two attorneys. Very, very successful. And they were actually interviewing multiple other firms. And for some reason, they chose a guy that only been doing it for three months and had no other clients. So they’re still to this day, some of my favorite people. The wife actually took my oldest daughter when she was 16, I think, to Italy for 18 days with her. So it’s been a pretty incredible relationship. And I’m very grateful they chose, they chose to go with a guy that, really, I dont know a lot of people, but I thought they were crazy to do.
Alan Olsen: So. Elliot, when you transitioned from civilian to military life, how difficult was that?
Elliot Omanson: Oh, yes, it definitely is. Right. And so I think there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of things, holding people back and making that transition. The most significant one, I think, is that when you’re in the military, your identity is so tightly woven in to the military. And I don’t even think most people realize how tightly in it’s woven, right? I didn’t and I prided myself on the fact like I was in a line of work in the military where I got to spend most of my time deployed sterile. So I wasn’t wearing name tapes, unit patches rank, I got to spend a lot of time in civilian dress. There was people that I had talked to for eight or nine months, and when I slid my military ID across the table to let them know, I was actually active in the military, they were stunned. They couldn’t detect through language, or behavior, or appearance that I was military. So when I got out, I thought, I thought I’ve done a good job of not being institutionalized, if you want to call it that. And so I didn’t realize just how much my identity was wrapped around that environment. So I think the biggest challenge is, being able to take something you’re proud of take something that that was so integral to who you were, acknowledge that it was this beneficial thing that helped you that that you have all this pride in what you did, but still set it aside and acknowledge that that’s in your past. And now who you are going to move forward has to be a new identity if to create a new person and it’s not taken away from that. You’re not casting that off. It’s just you need to become the next step. Next phase. Right. And I think I think a lot of people really struggle with that. When they’re transitioning from the military to something else. And I knew that and I definitely did for a while as well.
Alan Olsen: What was the hardest part about moving into the financial world?
Elliot Omanson: One of my favorite people to listen to Jordan Peterson. talks about how and I just went watched one of his lectures. And he talks about how like, you just have to take a step forward, you just have to pick something and do it. Right. So no, it was being a financial, it was absolutely not a passion of mine. I knew nothing about it. Oddly enough, it wasn’t. It was on another podcast where for the first time, I remembered an experience from my childhood, when I started babysitting other people’s kids at 10. Obviously, that’s a whole nother era in America where some buddy, I’ll let a 10 year old babysit the kid, right? Most people today at 10 are being babysat by somebody, right. And I’d come home and my mom had a would would have us record in a three by five note card spiral bound book, the date, we worked who we worked for how much they paid us. 10% went to tithing 50% went to our savings account at the local bank and 40% of the spending. Then at the age of 15, I sat down at our kitchen table, their family financial advisor, and I had saved up about $5,000. And by the time I was 15, in my savings account, and I invested that to the stock market. By the time I was 17. In order for me to go with some of my friends to Europe for the summer, I sold off some of my shares of Dr. Pepper. The only reason I purchased this I love Dr. Pepper as the only reason and finance a trip to Europe for the summer, right. And what was funny is as an adult, getting into the financial industry, I never connected, like those experiences as a youth with what could possibly have impacted my path as an adult. And so and then, and then once I became a financial advisor, even though it was just because somebody kept bugging me every month for a year and three months to do it. I don’t think anybody could have I don’t think anybody would look at and go, you know, what would make a really great financial advisor, you know what the baby boomers with with assets really want to see in a financial advisor, a crude, foul mouthed ex combat vet who swears a lot. That’s what they’re looking for. Right? And lo and behold, I think like the way you learn to communicate the military, minus obviously, all the swearing, but just the very directness about it. Without really caring how it comes across. I think there is a element of society that really is attracted to that. And so it was not difficult. I had an incredible first year. And it only got better from there. And I’m very, it’s just one of the things where I feel very fortunate to have found two very different careers in my life where I was actually, like, I felt like they were built for me.
Alan Olsen: Yeah, I tell you I always ask this question. And it’s very insightful to companies. What, what keeps your clients up at night?
Elliot Omanson: So this is one of the most interesting things, right? I think that the financial world is very ambiguous. One, it’s huge. I was just talking to somebody about this today, right? If you look at there’s like 53 codes and federal law, title 26 is the one that pertains to taxes. That’s real revenue is what it’s referred to, that’s taxes us revenue to the federal government. And I always, like so many people don’t realize that a 401k is called a 401k. Because it’s section 401, paragraph K of title 26. That’s the first volume. If I want to find out rules about life insurance, I have to go to the second volume section 7702. Okay, who, who I mean, this is we’re talking about a massive amount of information and data that most people don’t understand any of much less all of right. And so I think the thing that and I think what that creates is it creates this sense that like, you never really know, if somebody’s being honest with you. And in the financial industry, I always joke that we we fluctuate back and forth with the pharmaceutical industry as to who’s most hated in America. Okay. And so I feel like a lot of people, the primary thing that keeps them up at night, is just this lack of understanding. And it’s so overwhelming. A lot of times they don’t even, they don’t even want to take the time to learn. Right. And they have so much anxiety about it and stress. And and I think that’s one of these. So this I just had this conversation this was on the phone with a social media influencer on a zoom call, and she talked about how she failed out of accounting three times. And I told her, Well, hey, you’re in luck. You’re in good company. I’m a three day junior college dropout. And so I actually explained something to her and then one of the other people on the call, who has three different sets of letters on the end of their name. Then translated what I said into college speak, right? So she got to hear somebody who would explain it. Like a layperson would explain it. That’s the way I explain things, and then she got to hear the way somebody would all sorts of financial degrees would explain it right. And it was just kind of it was a funny it made for a funny moment. And I think that that’s what most people are used to is that highly educated financial speak. And it just further causes this problem of of anxiety and a lack of understanding. So I know I gave you a big long answer there but I think I think it’s hard for people to trust the people they’re working with when information is presented in that way to them.
Alan Olsen: So your company’s name is Alfie…
Elliot Omanson: OWLFI yeah, so owl like the bird find like financial. And it means nothing everybody always wants to know, they think is my last name is Ahmed sin The O stands for omens. And they wonder who’s the w the look. So the company that I went to work for was called SAGE financial. And the logo looked like they had stolen it from TripAdvisor it was I think that’s TripAdvisor the two owl eyes. Right. And, and there’s 222 million search results, if you typed in SAGE, financial, and none of them are us. And I even received an email from a law firm in Australia, asking me if I could send over the clients financial statements they were working on. And I might Yeah, I assure you if you’re in Australia, your clients not my client, right? Like I’m in Shawnee, Kansas. Okay. So I went to my attorneys after I bought the company, and I told him, I said, Look, I want a name that when you hear it or see it, there is only one. I don’t care what industry. There’s only one. And the argument goes well then you got to do what the guy started Xerox did. Like what’s that he goes, he just made a word up out of nowhere. And I’m like, okay, and he’s like, make it five or six letters. One or two syllables phonetically spelled to make sure the dot coms available. I might do I look like a Scrabble champion to you. Okay, like, how am I ever going to do this, right? And so every every time I meet with a client for the next few months, I just presented this laundry list of requirements. And one of my clients, he literally must be the smartest guy in the world. He looks down at his feet for two seconds looks up and he goes, but how about OWLFI? And I’m like, and he goes owl like the bird from our logo, the owl eyes file like financial. And I was like, I went to godaddy typed it in it was available for 11.99 I bought it I made a logo, put it on the wall. Went home. I told my wife she goes, Man, that sounds stupid. And I just did that I go well, how do you think the guy that started Xerox wife felt? Like that had to be equally as stupid sounding right. Now since then, it’s kind of funny. I think I almost regret it because everybody hears it and they spell it ALPHAI or something like that. So or they or they see the owl and they call it Alfie. So it would appear to be a disaster of a name. But I’ve already made everything about it. So we’re sticking with it. Yeah, eventually, eventually, if we get big enough and people hear about it, they’ll they’ll know OWLFI is owl and finally financial
Alan Olsen: Elliot for people that would like to follow up and contact you directly. How would they do that?
Elliot Omanson: Well, the easiest ways are just through my personal email Elliott@owlfi.com And then you can always call us to 913-441-8380. And we’re pretty attentive. And so you get to talk to a live human, and we can see what we can do to help you.
Alan Olsen: So Elliot, it’s been a pleasure having you with us stay here on American Dreams. We appreciate all that you’ve shared with us and for the listeners out there. We look forward to having you with us this next week.
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This transcript was generated by software and may not accurately reflect exactly what was said.
Alan Olsen, is the Host of the American Dreams Show and the Managing Partner of GROCO.com. GROCO is a premier family office and tax advisory firm located in the San Francisco Bay area serving clients all over the world.
Alan L. Olsen, CPA, Wikipedia Bio
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