From his office desk, Jay Gagne has floor-to-ceiling window views of a large body of water outside his Castleton office location for Gagne Wealth Management Group.
Water has always reminded Jay of his youth growing up on northern Indiana’s Tippecanoe Lake and is, unsurprisingly, what grounds him and keeps him centered.
Gagne, 50, spends his days doing financial planning and managing the personal investment assets of approximately 300 clients, which he takes very seriously and handles with great care and consideration. He describes his day as one filled with multi-faceted roles.
“This industry is hard, it’s not easy,” he says. “There are so many moving parts, things to know, and thus experience matters to a large degree. But when you grow to an elite level, you must be doing something right.”
He is referring to the group’s recent recognition by Forbes magazine’s SHOOK rankings as a top wealth advisor with a #13 “Best in State” ranking for Indiana. This is up from a #16 ranking in 2020, which Gagne says was a “hard-earned” move up in the state rankings.
“We take great pride in not only being recognized as “Best in State” for three consecutive years, but also in continuing to climb in our ranking,” Gagne says.
That is due to a complex assessment the firm underwent each year, such as assets under management, broker record, creative planning solutions for clients, staff interviews and, as Gagne proudly emphasizes, “a perfect service record. No reportable client complaints in 26 years.”
Clients receive consistent contact, a rapid response to time-sensitive issues, strategic financial planning implementation, and goal-monitored performance.
Gagne points to a humorous story that emphasizes creativity while serving clients. When his wife Tessa was in labor in 2017, he was very underdressed from his usual professional attire. He had a client who needed immediate attention, and his client conversation as a wealth advisor was overheard by the attending anesthesiologist. After a business card was requested and given, the next week Gagne promptly had a new client — and a week-old son, Conor.
Wealth investment has its roots in Gagne’s family. He says a lot of inspiration came from his mother Paula, who is also licensed and maintains 1% of the business ownership as law requires. Paula is co-president and still maintains an office and a very active interest in the daily business functioning as well as ongoing client needs.
More than 35 years ago, with two teenage sons, Paula Gagne, the stay-at-home mom, was inspired to make her mark as a financial advisor. She earned her required license’s but needed someone to give her a chance, Wall Street had large barriers to entry at the time. The generally male-dominated field proved hard to enter but Paula had a plan. She made an appointment with a firm under the guise of being an investor and talked her way into her first job.
Success quickly followed the motivated advisor and corporate entities came recruiting due to her proven success in the name of Merrill Lynch.
While she was making waves in the financial world, Jay Gagne was busy gaining his bachelor’s degree from Indiana University in Bloomington.
“I thought about law school but was inspired by the stories I would hear at the dinner table. If she could be so successful in the field, maybe I could too,” Gagne says.
Stepping through the doors of Merrill Lynch in 1995 as one person in that year’s recruiting class of more than 1,000, Gagne would soon make his own mark. He placed first in the country in every category in the Merrill Lynch Fast Start program, ultimately earning him the title of “Rookie of the Year.”He later earned his prestigious certification as a Certified Investment Management Analyst from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
Both mother and son worked for Merrill Lynch and were high performers before moving under the Raymond James umbrella. Gagne says it is a better fit overall for their approach to providing career investment services, including but not limited to, retirement planning, estate planning, wealth management, tax planning, college planning, insurance needs and business valuations.
His clients seem to agree.
“The crazy dot.com bust, financial decline of ’08 — we still have many of our early on acquired clients,” Gagne says. “As clients move, they often choose to retain our services. People do business with people they like, know, and trust.”
From its perch just west of I-465, Gagne’s Wealth Management firm advises for clients in 29 states, with Florida being the second largest state as people often retire from Indiana and move south for the sunshine.
Paula likes to point out that clients sometimes let fear and emotion guide their financial decisions, which is understandable.
“We sometimes have to talk them off the ledge,” Paula says. “We keep them focused on the long-term plan. We have at times talked them out of cashing out when markets get volatile, and when markets eventually recover they’re so grateful.”
As president, Gagne wears many hats for his clients. He has to keep an eye on markets, oversee financial plan implementation, client investments, manage his day-to-day business operations, and still make time for his family. Gagne Wealth Management is constantly preparing for the next wave of investors, as his initial clients often times refer Gagne Wealth Management to their grown children. Jay Gagne has another financial advisor on board, Vinya Sagi who has earned her Master’s in Finance from Harvard University, as well as an experienced administrative team, Kelly Hudson and Jamie Montisanto, to serve client needs and requests.
Typically his firm operates primarily through client referrals, specified investment minimums, and careful selection of who they allow on board as new client relationships. He recently received a hand-written card from a client that he took on with a smaller amount than his investment minimum thanking him for accepting them as a client.
“It doesn’t matter how many zeros are at the end of the number when someone needs help,” he says.
Gagne Wealth Management Group outreach extends to the greater Indianapolis area in the spirit of building community. The firm is a contributor for the Indianapolis Zoo, the Carmel Symphony, Pathway to Recovery, the Humane Society, Cystic Fibrosis Society’s Indiana chapter and Diwali celebrations for the local Indian community.
“We love to give back,” Paula says. “Our client base is diverse. When we’re blessed, we should give back. It’s important.”
The financial duo’s next plan involves further entrenching themselves in the Geist community, where they already live within one lawn of each other. Gagne and his wife are finishing new construction on a home overlooking the reservoir and Paula purchased the adjacent lot hoping to build next year.