Peter van der Hagen, Edward Jones

IB’s Professional of the Week is the premier way to meet Dane County’s professionals. This week features Peter van der Hagen, financial advisor, Edward Jones.

What are the most challenging and rewarding aspects of your job and why?

The most challenging aspect of my job is that the financial world we live within is always changing and evolving. There is never a shortage of things to learn and better understand so that we can assist our clients best and help educate them as we work toward their goals. The most rewarding aspect of my job is easily the relationships I create. I’ve met and helped so many wonderful people in my short time here. To get to know them and be able to share news of their ability to retire or be their confidant when it comes to transferring wealth to their heirs is an amazing experience I have year after year.

Who do you look up to or admire in business and why?

I always look forward to articles and commentary that emerges around the time of the Berkshire Hathaway annual meeting. Warren Buffett has personified simple, time-tested investing methods. Oftentimes, what is popular or fashionable in our world is not what's right for the client, and Buffett has skillfully kept to his methods and shown great success in it. Plus, as someone who speaks to many people about the complicated world of investing, I appreciate his amazing ability to deconstruct incredibly complex ideas down to something anyone can understand.

What has been the high point of your career so far?

Well, 2018 was a significant year for us for many milestones. My branch office administrator, Jennifer, and I celebrated more than 10 years together as a team helping individual investors reach their long-term financial goals. Secondly, we were asked for the second time to participate in a limited partnership offering in our privately held firm. Finally, I purchased and renovated an old historic bank building in my community, cementing us in Sauk Prairie. Last year was an incredible year and we’re building onto it in 2019!

Thinking back on your career, what advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Occasionally take the time to be strategic and work on the business rather than in it. Day to day in running a practice, there are a lot of moving parts. While I was effective at handing these to-do’s, I didn’t take time away to look forward and plan what the next year, two years, or five years would look like. A couple years ago, our branch made a decision to prioritize our business planning. Now, Jennifer and I regularly review our annual business plan to track our progress in the near term. Also, we take a day away from the office to think about what we want our practice to look like down the road and the steps we’ll have to take to get there. It has really helped reinforce our vision and double down on the important steps we need to take to get there.

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What would you say are the best things about living and working in Dane County?

What I love about this area is that you get the access and size of an incredibly large metropolitan area fit into a smaller size without all the issues. Living on the edge of Dane County, I don’t have to drive very far to see a great show or performance or eat great food. Plus, all the outlying communities have fantastic feels to them. The town I work in, Sauk Prairie, has numerous strong employers (and thus a great little economic engine), a wonderful winery/distillery, an amazing performing arts center and gallery, a brewery, and tons of restaurants and shops. Finally, should I need to get some fresh air, I can be at one of many great state parks in short order. In the Dane County area, we truly get it all and we’re lucky to be here.

Do you have any secret talents or abilities that people would be surprised to discover?

I play the piano and have done so for a long time. I started when I was in second grade and never stopped. I’ve even taken some lessons lately. It’s one of those many things that you can always continue to improve upon. Not many people know that about me. I also enjoy public speaking. I do not typically shy away from an opportunity to speak to a group!

What are your guilty pleasures?

Podcasts. I could listen to them for hours on end. I’ve got a lineup of subscriptions covering everything from news to economics to design to comedy. It is to the point where if I am going on a long trip with the family in the car, I am allotted a set time as driver when I can listen to them, so everyone in the car doesn’t die of boredom.

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