Chris Smith: Celebrating 16 Years Of Business

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When Chris Smith greets people today, it is with the same warm smile and firm handshake he did in 1992.

That was the first year Smith, now a financial adviser with Wachovia Securities Financial Network, began knocking on doors in Payson to build his business.

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Chris Smith Investments is Chris Smith, Shelly Sundra (right) and Lisa Youngcourt (left).

During one of those early cold-calls, Smith was dressed in a white shirt and black tie.

He knocked, a woman answered the door saying, come in, I've been expecting you. Please sit down.

There was a book of Mormon on the table.

"I said, Ma'am, I can't help you with that but I can help you with your investments," Smith said.

She became a client and Smith learned to wear colored shirts.

Another of those early prospects laughed at Smith, saying, "I didn't think Payson was big enough for a stockbroker."

The 1990 census showed the town's population at 8,377.

Although he was the first full-time "stockbroker," he did not like the term. The reason?

"It's a rare individual, who can achieve financial independence, through the exclusive ownership of independent stocks," he said.

Diversity, quality and appropriate time horizons are three keys of Smith's investment philosophy.

People's perception of the economy can make their emotions run high.

"The value proposition is not just about making money for the client, it is about trying to keep people from making costly financial decisions," Smith said.

Leadership under pressure is a skill Smith learned as an officer with the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army during Desert Storm.

He holds degrees in business and economics from Wheaton College in Illinois.

"The bottom line is the people with money are the decision makers," he added.

The freedom to expand

In March 2004, Smith went from working for his former firm to being an independent "managing principal."

"We ended up with 80 percent of the assets ..." Smith told Sydney Le Blanc in an interview for a chapter in the book she co-authored with Lyn Fisher: "Independent Business Ownership Navigation to Your New Destination."

Smith also served for three years, as one of nine charter members, representing independent investment brokers at quarterly meetings with Wachovia's president.

Back in his office at 112 W. Main St., Smith said one of the pleasures of his job is "hearing people's life stories -- everyone has one."

Listening goes hand-in-hand with customer service and a business built on referrals.

Administrative manager Shelly Sundra has 19 years of customer service experience in the investment industry, 12 with Smith.

"This is an ever-changing business, I enjoy taking care of the clients. There is always something new to learn," Sundra said.

"Working one-on-one with clients and meeting new people and getting to know their families is always great," said account administrator Lisa Youngcourt. She has worked for Chris Smith Investments for three years.

"It would be impossible to have the quality of business we offer without Shelly and Lisa. They embrace service and take pride in their work," Smith said.

Together they have 38 years of experience in the industry.

"The responsibility and satisfaction that I feel by being intimately involved with people's largest monies outside their home is sobering and humbling," Smith said.

The importance of balance extends from financial portfolios to family life.

Chris and Meg Smith have been married 17 years. They have three children, Rachael, Emily Grace and Westin.

"Right now I spend a lot of time hiking with Emily and Westin or I am at the rodeo grounds watching Rachel barrel race," Smith said.

What is next for Chris Smith Investments?

"Our business focus is to find additional ways to add value to our current clients," he said.

Smith finds freedom in being part of his client's lives, loving what he does, the people he works with and where he lives.

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