Zachary Threadgill was born and raised in Texas, the oldest of seven children. He started saving and investing as a high schooler and later attended the University of Texas where he earned a BBA in Finance. While there he won the Finance Society’s annual stock picking challenge. After his undergrad, he continued his education and earned a Doctorate of Jurisprudence at Southern Methodist University.  After law school he passed the Texas bar exam and later became a CFP (Certified Financial Planner).  His first stop after law school was at a firm that focused on estate planning for high net worth individuals. In 2015, Zachary and his brother started Threadgill Financial in Spring, Texas.  Now he helps people with financial plans, financial decisions and he manages client investments.  

Why did you decide to create your own business?

I wanted the autonomy to make what I thought were the right decisions for my clients.  My dad has always owned a roofing business.  I often heard stories about roofing jobs, making customers happy, doing the right thing when things went wrong, and solving customer’s problems where others could not.  In high school I worked at my stepdad’s automotive shop, where I learned to see a business largely as a customer service operation with a side of problem solving.  As the business owner you can decide to do something that is right for the customer, even if it is bad for the business. As an employee, you can’t do that. 

What do you love most about the industry you are in?

It is a constant learning experience.  There is always new stuff to learn about investing.  If you like to read and learn, there is plenty of opportunity.

What does a typical day consist of for you?

I wake up early and usually get some reading done.  I’ll look to administrative tasks that might need attention, like answering some emails or sending clients’ their money.  I also like to go to the gym in the morning.  I feel better the rest of the day if I do that.  After that I head off to the office.  I might have a few meetings or phone calls with existing and prospective clients, fitting in more emails and tasks in between.  Maybe I’ll find time to do a stock trade here or there.  Most days go by fast.  Occasionally it will be slow, and I can get more reading and thinking in, which is enjoyable.

What keeps you motivated?

Goals. I always have written goals.  Write down the actions I need to take to achieve that goal and keep both the goal and actions steps somewhere I’ll see them.  That way my subconscious is thinking about them when I’m not consciously trying. 

How has your company grown from its early days to now?

We tried a lot of things.  Adam and I are both conservative small-town guys in what can be a very flashy and sales-focused industry.  Once we figured out that our clients prefer a teaching method to a sales method, things went well.  The specifics of how we succeeded are not as important as how we found what worked for us.  We found someone in our industry getting the results we wanted.  We learned how they did it and then copied them.  We got similar results.  This is the most valuable thing I have ever learned.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

I enjoy reading and listening to stories about business owners and entrepreneurs.

Who has been a role model to you and why?

I had some good bosses.  I learned a lot from them.  Alan taught me how to ask thoughtful questions.  Ken taught me a business model and the value of spending earnings on growth.  My dad and stepdad showed me the value of taking care of customers so they will remain loyal for years.

How do you maintain a solid work life balance?

Ha ha…I don’t think I do.  I live and breathe my business and investments.

What traits do you possess that makes you a successful leader?

Focus and determination.  I was not the smartest kid in high school, but in college I learned it didn’t matter.  I could out work most and that quality along with intense focus and determination helped me overcome any challenges.

What suggestions do you have for someone starting in your industry?

Find a good mentor, someone with good values who is successful.  Go to work for them, even if it is in an administrative role, and learn the business.  In a few years you’ll know what you need to know well enough to do it on your own.  If you choose well and you prove yourself, you might not even have to leave.  Many firms in my business get sold to a younger advisor.

What has been the hardest obstacle you’ve overcome?

Starting this business from scratch with no customers is expensive.  It would be very difficult to do and succeed with no capital.  You need both the knowledge and capital to make this business work.  On your way to getting the knowledge and experience you will probably meet someone who can provide the capital once you are ready.

What’s one piece of advice you would give to others?

I can’t emphasize enough this simple concept of copying others who are successful at what you want to do.  Let someone else spend their time and money trying out new ideas.  Focus in on what is already working and learn how to do that.  Do it and you are likely to get similar results.  Once you are established and don’t have a risk of failing, you can afford to try new things.