‘No handshakes’ proves a successful business model

Colleen Mahoney

It was 31 years ago that Kevin Mahoney moved into a private practice for financial planning. Since then he has brought on Jessica Sullivan as a partner, added two licensed associates and a receptionist and helped more than 600 clients understand their finances.

Mahoney (no relation to this story’s author) is the founder and president of Mahoney and Sullivan Financial Group in East Concord. He is a certified financial planner who emphasizes the importance of continuing his education. During a recent retaking of his CFP test — something he has to do yearly — Mahoney read through 300 pages worth of material. Retirement planning and financial planning for today’s consumer were the topics he studied as a way to keep up with the latest in the industry.

“Our industry is evolving … and we have to strive to be the best for our clients,” Mahoney said. “We have to know the latest and greatest, and I gained so much knowledge.”

An industry colleague asked Mahoney why he didn’t skip the reading and just answer the questions, knowing he’d be able to pass the test without reading the material.

“The whole idea is to study … we’re here to help people,” Mahoney said. “Not reading the material would be cheating … my clients.”

It’s those same clients who have gotten Mahoney to where he is now, and will continue to go. Mahoney recently met with a woman who had come into money from a settlement who was seeking some financial guidance. Mahoney said he was “honored” to be entrusted with that responsibility.

“We had met with her previously … and when she was leaving she gave me a hug,” Mahoney said. “That’s how it is … no handshakes, only hugs.”

Both Mahoney and Sullivan see their clients as family members and often spend half their client meetings catching up on life. Keeping in touch with their clients, Sullivan said, is the most important part of the job.

“I’ve shown up to client’s houses after a death in the family with paperwork and … baked apple dishes,” Sullivan said. “We tell them to call us for anything, and we mean it.”

Both Sullivan and Mahoney say the career and industry are hard to get into, and to maintain, but it’s an “awesome responsibility” to be able to help other people.

“The clients are the easiest part, the most enjoyable,” Sullivan said.

Ensuring Mahoney and Sullivan Financial Group can continue to help clients, old and new, has kept the business partners on the straight and narrow with their reputations. Mahoney got his license in 1976 and has not had a “ding” on it. A “ding,” Mahoney said, can be anything from making a mistake with a client’s money to someone disagreeing with the way he parts his hair.

“It’s a heavily regulated industry … I knew that going in, it’s just the way it is,” Mahoney said. “But I have a perfectly clean record, no dings.”

Sullivan, who has been fully licensed for six years and also has a clean record. And she fully intends to follow in Mahoney’s footsteps moving forward. She also Sullivan has followed in Mahoney’s footsteps by being featured on the cover of The Register, an International Association of Registered Financial Consultants publication. Sullivan was featured in the magazine’s May-June 2016 issue in an article highlighting her methods and ideologies for helping clients to build wealth. In the fall 1998 issue, Mahoney was the centerfold of MFS Perspective, another industry magazine.

“It’s quite an honor … and national recognition,” Sullivan said of her magazine cover story. “We all strive to help our clients, we’re all competitive … this helps.”

Treating their clients with respect and having a good sense of humor, Mahoney said, has also helped the duo in their years of service. While Mahoney has been in the industry for 41 years, Sullivan got her start in 2008 and was named a partner in 2011.

“It takes a positive mental attitude and a good sense of humor,” Mahoney said. “Good people want to work with good people … that’s why we’re here.”

Mahoney and Sullivan Financial Group is located at 12111 Route 240, in East Concord and can be reached at www.MahoneyAssoc.com or by phone at (716) 592-9225.