Some of Stephen Akin’s jargon stems from his days spent on waters. He grew up in Houston, Texas, boating and fishing, and became certified as a Merchant Marine Master. So when he uses terms like “stormy” and “coasting” when referring to his multi-decade career in the securities business, it is often because of his lifelong affection with the sea. “When helping clients with their financial lives, you must monitor their position and the progress toward their goals,” says Akin. “Just as a Skipper always keeps one eye to weather and the other to leeward … stay alert to the smallest change.”Akin entered the investment world in 1984. He first worked with Paine Webber Inc. and then Dean Witter now known as Morgan Stanley Dean Witter until he turned 65 last year and retired – sort of. He has seen his share of ups and downs in the market and has even navigated through rough spots, including the recession that revved up in 2008 and has had reverberating effects on the financial world ever since.
He says he has assisted senior citizens concerned about “running out of money”, millennials will access retirement funds to make ends meet during challenging times, and parents and grandparents looking to provide continuing education.
A family situation that involved he and his wife obtaining custody of two granddaughters motivated him to get back to work in order to not only support them, but also plan for their future.
“I always wanted to open my own shop in the investment business, so I decided this was the time,” he says. “Plus, I absolutely missed it. I was never really away from it completely. It’s just such a passion of mine.”
At an age when many retire permanently Akin, instead, started Akin Investment Advisory in Greenwood, as well as studied for and passed the FINRA Series 65 exam, which covers laws, regulations, ethics, and subjects such as retirement planning, portfolio management strategies, and fiduciary responsibilities. As a Registered Investment Advisor for South Carolina, Akin works clients through several steps to planning for a variety of lifestyle scenarios. He provides goal setting, explains investment philosophy, and customizes financial situations specific to the client’s needs.
Some of Akin’s other services include 401k retirement planning, 529 college fund plans, and IRAs. He also works with the goals and objectives of families interested in estate planning – as well as offers many other financial planning services.
As an investment advisor, his role is to stay ahead of changing patterns in the financial world. “People need a lot of help because there is so much confusion out there and misunderstandings … so many investments people don’t understand. I’m able to provide unbiased advice.”
One of the changes in the industry is access to Financial Technology “Fintech” and online brokerage accounts. He knows people are trying computer model platforms which, he points out, “opens a person’s eyes as to the urgency and dollar amounts that will be needed to achieve their dreams.” Yet, 30 years of experience and real communication with a real person is what he offers clients.
As a person officially at retirement age himself, his primary advice for young and old is to stop procrastinating when it comes to financial planning. The time value of money is so very important.
“I think Einstein once said the 8th wonder of the world is compound interest: He who knows it, earns it; he who doesn’t pays it.” He adds, “Sailing has taught me life is a voyage and no one knows what the future holds.”
By Deena C Bouknight // Photos by Abby Funderburk Photography