ONE-ON-ONE WITH with Mark Schneeberger, Independent Registered Representative, ChFC, Registered Investment Advisor CA Realtor
Interviewed by: Danna Lewis
Unlike my usual in-person meetings, today we are using the old-fashioned phone. I’m grateful, with busy schedules, that we could have this option between Mark in Mill Valley and myself in San Anselmo.
Danna: Hi Mark it’s so nice to get to sit and talk with you. And, since our story centers around Marin and Mill Valley, how did you end up living here?
Mark: Lived in Santa Barbara for 14 years. Grew up in Calgary, Alberta. Moved to Santa Barnara in 1984. In 1998, I moved to Mill Valley – I had friends here and Santa Barbara didn’t feel like the right place to start a new career. I wanted to be in a metropolis and didn’t want to live in Silicon Valley. Seven years later, I met my wife here at D’Angelos in 2005. I think it’s the best place in the states to live because of the high quality of life.
Danna: Tell me about your business.
Mark: My father was a stockbroker and he taught me a lot about the business. I always knew it would be my ‘second’ career. It was a complete lifestyle change. Back in the late 90’s, the industry was completely different than it is now. I love helping people. If you look on my Linked In profile, that pretty much says it all about how I help clients. I like to tell clients I have a holistic approach to investing and financial planning that takes the angst out of investing and financial planning.I am an Investment Advisor/Registered Representative, ChFC ( Chartered Financial Consultant ), CA Realtor and CA Insurance licensed. An important part of the ChFC curriculum is behavioral finance. How to interpret and deal with people’s emotions and behavioral issues with money that create so much emotion for people. Addressing the apprehension and uneasiness people have around money is part of creating this holistic approach. Young people are not taught anything in school about the basics of finance. The pre-retirement and do it-your-selfer folks of all ages tend to become emotionally involved with their money which does not work well with the short term volatility of the markets. I work with people to take that emotion out of the equation so people can make informed decisions and reach their goals.
Robo Advisors are AI generated and do not provide financial planning. They don’t know you, they are just spitting out allocations. Everyone’s financial situation is unique and a robot/AI can’t tell anything about you, your emotions, how you feel about money and risk or if you inherited those feelings from your parents. All those nuances need to be considered when building a financial plan. I was recruited to Morgan Stanley when my business was still growing. I lasted less than two years there because they weren’t aligned with my values and integrity and how I wanted to serve my clients. I went independent in 2022 so I could recommend what investments best suit my clients needs, not what the big house was pushing.
Danna: What would you like people to know that maybe they don’t hear enough or haven’t tapped into yet about your business?
Mark: I have been a licensed CA Realtor since 1998 and have owned and managed my own properties for 36 years. I believe it’s very important that I have that license, as real estate is usually the biggest part or a significant part of your net worth. If I have a client who wants to buy, sell or refinance a property I outsource that to a veteran realtor in their neighborhood, same with creating trusts. I have a team of colleagues that I work with in other, relative professions to create a comprehensive financial plan. The current environment is problematic for any person looking for professional help – there are insurance agents posing as financial advisors at free lunch or dinner seminars recommending annuities that may not be suitable for the client. Consumers can be vulnerable to people like that. I recommend all people looking for an advisor to seek out the services of a veteran, licensed financial planner / Registered Investment Advisor. When you think you’ve found one go to FinRa Broker Check and check them out.
Danna: What has surprised you about your business or your clients?
Mark: Most of my new clients are referrals from existing clients – that has come from a place of building trust with them. I hold complete confidentiality with my clients. All of my clients have paid me a fee for my advice, which makes me my client’s fiduciary so I am held to a much higher standard than a commissioned salesperson. To receive a referral, is a great acknowledgement of that. I’d like to say I’ve seen it all but nothing surprises me anymore. I run across unique situations all of the time. It’s usually when someone in the family dies and siblings are divvying up grantor’s assets and they get into family disputes.
Danna: What does community and small town business mean to you?
Mark: Connection. I’ve lived here since ‘98- I feel connected to the community. It means home and community.
Danna: What are three things about your personal life that bring you joy that your clients may not know?
- Love for nature. I have a real connection to the ocean and am a kitesurfer. Nothing I enjoy more than going to Stinson Beach and riding the waves. We live very close to the headlands and can walk out our front gate and be on a trail.
- Living here. The unique aspect of all of Marin County, the lifestyle.
- At the end of the day, I feel I’ve made a difference in someone’s life because I’ve helped them reach one of their goals.
Danna: Is there a business in Mill Valley that you’d like to give a shout out to for a great experience you’ve had?
Mark: D’Angelos the restaurant where my wife and I met – they’ve been around forever. They are an iconic Mill Valley establishment and you can walk in and get a table and get great service. Also a shout out to the organizers (MV Art Commission) of the Art Walk, it’s so fantastic because you get to walk around, see people, and visit the local shops. And to Sweetwater, love that place.
Danna: And for our Marin Neighbors, is there a business in Marin you would like to give a shout out to?
Mark: Mike’s Bikes. They always give me good service. I like to mountain bike and use them for service and repairs.
Danna: Thank you, Mark. It’s been a pleasure to talk with you.
Mark: Thanks again, Danna, I’ve been looking forward to this.