Today’s Local to Know knows a thing or two about the ups and downs of wealth management. He worked in the sports industry for some time before realizing that he could tap into a profession that was underrepresented. In his spare time, he does work for the non-profit organization Allies for Children and speaks at various venues educating people about managing their finances. Meet Justin Binion, Vice President and wealth advisor from Clarfeld Citizens Private Wealth.
Tell our readers a bit about how you found your way into wealth management. What got you started?
I always like to say wealth management found me.
My first career out of college was in the sports industry. I had worked for several prominent NBA and NHL teams, and while I enjoyed the lifestyle and atmosphere, it wasn’t fulfilling. And then one night it came to me: ESPN was airing a 30 for 30 special called “Broke,” which highlighted the financial difficulties many athletes have dealt with, most often due to a lack of knowledge and bad advice from untrustworthy people. The episode really resonated with me because I’ve seen so many family members and friends make similar mistakes growing up due to that same lack of knowledge and people to turn to for advice. It was at that point that I realized there was an opportunity for me to step into an industry where there weren’t many people who looked like me and make a positive impact in people’s lives by being that trusted advisor.
How does your volunteer work (like Allies for Children) inform your work-work?
Allies For Children is a child advocacy non-profit that strives to promote the best interests of children in Allegheny County and its surrounding area. The organization aligns with my values to the core. Two of my lifelong goals are to make a positive impact in people’s lives and to be a role model for young people. Allies gives me the opportunity to use my education and influence to help affect change for young people. They partner with other local organizations to address some of the bigger issues facing children in Allegheny County.
Lack of financial literacy can be a big barrier to things like homeownership and savings. How do you help people build financial literacy?
When I think about this topic, I am often reminded of Big Boi from OutKast’s lyrics on his song “Something’s Gotta Give”: “Each one, teach one. If you lend a helping hand, you may never need one.”
I take pride in sitting down with the next generation and educating them on financial literacy. For some of them, this may be the first time they’ve ever heard someone talk about credit scores or savings accounts. I’ve been fortunate enough to have partnered with several local organizations like FAME, 100 Black Men, and Junior Achievement, where they’ve asked me to come in and teach young people important financial topics. It’s my responsibility to take my knowledge & experiences and share it with these young people to help them along their journey.
What are some uniquely Pittsburgh assets and challenges when it comes to money?
Pittsburgh has really rebuilt its reputation from its former years as an old steel town. It’s such an exciting time to live here as there is so much growth happening around us. I love the spotlight we’ve been under over the last several years as one of the most livable cities. From a financial standpoint, this means that a person’s dollar can do more here than most cities.
Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for all of the people of Pittsburgh. Despite all of this exciting growth, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to allow people of diverse backgrounds to thrive here. We rank poorly in many socioeconomic categories. However, with several organizations around the city championing this cause I believe we are on the right path!
What’s your favorite way to experience the city (e.g., food/drink, events, activities)?
Whether I’m meeting a client, family, or just looking to relax I love finding one of the many small coffee shops we have and pulling up a chair. Margaux’s, Espresso a Mano, and La Prima are a few of my favorites.
Which three stops would you pick for a perfect day out in the ’Burgh?
This is a tough one! A perfect day for me in the ’Burgh would mean I’d have to start my morning with a coffee from Margaux. Then tailgating with some friends and family and attending a Steelers game. Finally, after a Steelers win I’d celebrate with a pastry from 350˚ Bakery.
Lastly, where can our readers find you?
During the week – I’m usually at my downtown office or meeting with clients.
Evening & weekends – My family keeps me very busy. I’m usually at a soccer field watching my oldest daughter play or at my AAU team’s basketball practice.
Follow Justin on social media at the links above and learn more about the non-profit organization Allies For Children here.
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