Andy Wise: A ‘Steward’ for Clients — and His Alma Mater

Eight years after earning his M.B.A. from the Robinson College of Business, financial planner Andy Wise says he’s enjoying the rewards of being a Georgia State alum now more than ever.

“I had a great experience while I was a student, but my experience with our alumni group has been exceptional,” he says. “What GSU alums are accomplishing both personally and professionally is remarkable. Just about every week I’ll hear a new story about a Georgia State alum that makes me proud. I feel like I’ve gotten just as much from Georgia State since I graduated as I did when I was a student, if not more.”

Last fall, Wise showed his gratitude by making a challenge grant to spur donations during Georgia State’s year-end fundraising push. He and his wife, Mary Field, offered to match donations from the GOLD community (Graduates of the Last Decade) dollar-for-dollar up to $2,500.

An Investment in Future Success

Good financial advisers recognize sound investments when they see them. Wise, now a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ in Morgan Stanley’s Buckhead office, had already determined that Georgia State was a good place to invest his time: He serves on the board of advisors for both the Robinson College and the Georgia State University Alumni Association, and he also chairs Robinson’s Council of Young Business Leaders.

As he and his wife weighed the prospect of a challenge grant, Wise decided it was a good place to invest his dollars as well. “Because of the boards I’m on, I get to learn a lot about what goes on behind the scenes at Georgia State,” he explains. “Georgia State has been very strategic in how it’s designing its business school programs. Dean Huss and his faculty have done a great job reaching out to the business community and asking them what skill sets they want to see from their new hires. Then they take that market research and match a curriculum to it so that students get the knowledge and the skills that give them the best opportunity to be hired and make an immediate impact in the workforce. The leaders at Georgia State and the Robinson College have excelled at understanding what’s important to the senior management who is doing the hiring.”

Wise’s fellow young alums rose to his challenge in a big way — they donated more than $15,000 during November and December. Wise says he’s excited about what that money has the potential to do for students.

“Georgia State gives students the opportunity to get an education that prepares them to be positive contributors to our business community and society. In particular, Georgia State provides so many opportunities to students who are the first generation in their families to attend college. My wife and I wanted to make a small impact on those first-generation graduates and help them to become successful in the business world. If we could accomplish that goal, it would be a great reward for us.”

Learning the Right Way to Do Business

Wise counts himself as an example of the successful outcomes Georgia State can create. After earning his bachelor’s degree from the University of Georgia and spending a few years working in the financial sector, he decided that it was time to take the next step toward his career goals — and that Georgia State was the best place to get started. “I was already in the financial planning field, and I knew I wanted to kill two birds with one stone: get an M.B.A. and satisfy the requirements to become a Certified Financial Planner™. Georgia State was the perfect fit for me to accomplish these goals, being the only university at that time in greater Atlanta offering students an MBA that also satisfied the requirements to sit for the CFP® exam.”

At the Robinson College of Business, Wise said he was fortunate to find supportive professors such as Conrad Ciccotello, director of graduate wealth management programs. “Not only was he a great mind, he was very entertaining and very knowledgeable about financial planning. In practice, I often apply many of the lessons I learned from his courses. He’s someone I hold in high regard and whose friendship I very much value today.”

Wise has also maintained ties with instructor Steve Brotherton in the Department of Risk Management and Insurance. “He’s been a great friend and mentor,” he says. “He’s even invited me back to his class many times as a guest speaker — an occasion I look forward to each year.”

Earning the CFP®, he says, was an important distinction that benefited both him and his clients. “It brought a wider range of knowledge to my client base and gave me more confidence as I was helping them plan through different stages of their lives,” he says.

Values Rooted in Experience

Wise learned the importance of that trust and confidence at a fairly young age as he observed his father’s experiences as a veterinarian and business owner. “Managing his personal finances was important, but not the first priority,” he remembers. “Consequently, many advisors came and went, and they didn’t necessarily have my parents’ best interests in mind. That’s not to say they were unethical, but I know my parents could have benefited over the years having a financial planner who had their best interests at heart instead of just focusing on the next commission transaction.”

Wise describes his father as a “family steward,” someone “motivated to excel at work, to provide for his family, and to give his family opportunities he never had when he was growing up.” For that reason, he says he’s focused his practice on helping other family stewards plan for their own financial futures.

“My commitment to my clients is to be there over the long haul,” he explains. “Anyone can sell something and move on, but I see myself as someone who is there to help and educate clients on the many different financial issues they encounter throughout their lives. If I can empower my clients to be great family stewards of their money, then I will be fulfilling my purpose.”