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WMS Voices: Veteran Leadership, Trust, and Military Experiences

This Q&A is part of a series of interviews with advisors, and centers of influence in tax, trust administration, liability management and others that serve the firm and their clientele that impact the advice, planning, strategy and governance provided to clients, and can have on our communities and the human experience. Here, we sit down with founder and United States military veteran Richard Riva.

What branch of the military did you serve in and how did you come to join it?

Richard: I served in the USMC from 1979 to 1986 (0341) and continue in the California State Guard from 2018 to present (CPO). I joined the Marines out of High School and then went to The University of Phoenix to focus on business with a Bachelor of Science in Business Management. I joined the Marines because I felt that I needed to serve the country and then went to UofP to fulfill my dream of being a business owner. I always knew I would live a life of service either way.

What lessons from your years in the military seem most relevant to your work in the private sector?

RR: Wealth Advisors are the connector of all the dots between the various client specialty experts and family members. Meeting this expectation from our clients can be difficult, but my time in the Corps taught me situational awareness and how to effectively communicate up and down the chain of command to keep everyone informed. Incorporating all the experts that serve the clients for tax, estate, liability, and investments makes for a more effective planning and strategy outcome that can address achieving financial goals in a tax and cost efficient manner.

What is the most important thing you learned in your time in the military?

RR: The military functions only if its leadership is effective. I learned the various approaches it takes to lead others and the advanced forms to serve effectively. The big lesson from military leadership is, as you lead you are serving others to an end goal, and any failures by anyone are the failures of leadership. 

How has serving in the military helped you in your current career?

RR: As a comprehensive wealth advisor focusing on all things that impact a client’s finances, I wear many hats. As a Marine non-commission officer, I lead teams of experts in many fields and in various dynamic missions. I understand the demands on financial goals and investment strategies and what drives clients to a clear pathway in addressing each item. I find the most efficient approach to addressing financial, liability and tax issues and communicate the details to offer a high level of confidence in achieving the investment strategy.  

When it comes to leadership, what have you taken from your military service into civilian work?

RR: Leadership is a perishable skill that adapts as conditions, environment, and missions change. Leaders must look ahead of problems to avoid dangerous conditions that can injure others. Good leaders are servants, and good advisors serve their clients and their family with forethought and planning that can avoid financial injury. Maintaining skills, proactively planning with a focus on protecting clients requires the same leadership I was trained for in the military.

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