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If They Build It, He Will Come

Success didn’t happen overnight for John Enright, but he knew what it would take to get it.

By Helen Thompson

John Enright, 33, credits his father, a plumber, with motivating him to succeed. For 36 years, the senior Enright worked hard to support his wife and five children. “I guess a lot of pressure was put on me to lead the pack, since I’m the oldest,” says Enright. “I must have gotten his work ethic. He always wanted more for us.”

He started with Phoenix Life in 1998, working seven days a week, calling 100 people a day. Slowly, he began building a successful practice, making class leader three out of four years at Phoenix Life. But around the beginning of his third year, he realized this wasn’t exactly what he wanted to do. “I didn’t want to see 200 people a year while trying to bring in 100 new clients; I really wanted to focus my practice on working smarter,” he says.

Those first three years were tremendously important to Enright’s later success, and he emphasizes how important it is for new advisors to stick with it during that time. “You learn so much, not only about the business and your clients, but about yourself as well,” he says. “Without those three years, I don’t think I would be where I am now, because they have helped me shape the practice I want.”


Making a sacrifice
Enright decided to become a fee-based advisor with Sagemark Consulting in 2002. It took time to make that transition, and accepting some things he would have to compromise on while he was getting his feet under him. But he integrated his understanding of the concerns of construction professionals into his practice, and now is considered the go-to expert in financial planning among many construction companies on the East Coast. He maintains offices in Syracuse, N.Y., and Vienna, Va.

The method he used during this time has served him well. As a fee-based planner, he can exercise client-centered practices that allow him to develop relationships with his clients—in Enright’s case, a four-step process. First, he does a “holistic document audit” to get a broad overview of what the client has in place and what the client may yet need. Then, to supplement this knowledge, he has a second meeting during which he works with the clients to set goals.

With that information, Enright and his team are ready for the third step: analysis and design. “The analysis helps us find where there might be obstacles to meeting their goals,” he says.

Once they identify any problems or concerns, they enter the fourth stage. “We explain to the client his current situation,” he says. “What we want to do is educate the clients about their issues so that they can determine the answers rather than have us hand them the answers. It gets them involved in a creative process.”

As he grew more successful, he became aware that he was having time-management concerns. “I realized that I had lost control of the balance in my life,” he says. “I was working all the time, including weekends!” He decided to sign up with the Strategic Coach, and the impact on his life has been tremendous.

That balance is really important to Enright; he’s very active in the alumni association at Hobart College, where he’s a candidate for their board of trustees. He’s also involved in his local association, Syracuse AIFA, and is a board member of the Boys & Girls Clubs of Syracuse.

But his next big project may prove to be his most demanding yet: He’s looking forward to starting a family with his wife, Kristin.


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