OWOSSO — The names have changed, but for 50 years the group of financial advisers — now called Parson|Niles Wealth Management Group of Wells Fargo Advisors — has not changed honesty as its best policy.
Just ask Raymond Church, who served as a financial adviser for the company from 1983 to 2017.
“The key to our success has been a good core of honest people,” Church said. “If you’re not honest in this business, you’re not going to last long.”
Lasting a half a century in the heart of downtown Owosso and still going strong, Parson|Niles of Wells Fargo Advisors, 201 N. Washington St., today manages about $360 million in client assets as of April 1.
“Doing what’s right for clients, what’s in their best interests, it’s just the right thing to do” said Paul Parson, managing director of investments at the group.
When the group first opened in 1971 by Owosso native Don Elliott, it was located at 121 W. Exchange St. and associated with the former national wealth management firm Manley Bennett and McDonald.
Elliott ran the branch alone for a number of years. Sometime prior to 1980, Elliott switched affiliation to national investment firm A.G. Edwards and hired a team that included Church, Loren Hartman and Myra Miller, mostly area residents.
Elliott, an Army veteran and former Owosso City Council member, passed away in 2014 at age 82.
The company moved to its current location in 2004, about the time Church and Parson started the Church|Parson Investment Group under Wells Fargo Advisors.
A few years later, the investment group became associated with another established firm, Wachovia, which Wells Fargo Advisors purchased after the financial crisis of 2008.
Today’s team is composed of Parson, his sons, Vice President-Investment Officer Mark Parson and financial adviser Theodore Parson, senior registered client associate Jillian Niles, and client associates Melissa Buehler and Colleen Ballard.
Paul Parson said if he had his way, Church would still be on the team, but the Perry resident has been enjoying traveling to Florida since retiring three years ago.
“Ray was really a pillar of this office,” Parson said. “He was here 34 years, and that’s a long time. I didn’t want him to retire.”
Paul Schluckebier, a former manager in the office, made important contributions to the office for 25-plus years, Parson said.
“We’ve had many good contributors to this office — too numerous to mention — over the years that have added to our office’s success,” Parson said. “Most importantly, they have provided good outcomes for our clients.”
Parson, who lives in St. Charles with wife Linda, joined the group in 1998. He’s pleased the couple’s two sons have followed in his career footsteps.
“I wanted it to be their ambition, not mine. They actually came to me and asked, which was nice,” Paul Parson said. “It’s rewarding to have them here, and I think they’re doing a really good job.”
There are definite advantages to having a larger team, especially given today’s complicated financial world, Parson said.
“There is so much depth, so many specialties now, we feel that having a bigger team with each member performing a different role provides better rewards and service for our clients,” he said.
In addition, Parson said, Wells Fargo Advisors offers clients excellent tools and resources for developing investment strategies, which have changed focus over time.
“Initially, people purchased stocks and mutual funds, but now we take a more holistic approach in helping people manage risk,” he said. “Goals are more defined — around retirement, wealth transfer or providing for kids’ college educations.”
Church identified technological advances as the biggest change he’s witnessed in wealth management since 1983.
Parson agreed, adding: “Change makes things better for our clients and it never stops, it’s just a matter of adapting to it. You have to keep a positive attitude and continue to work toward personal development.”
As for the future, Parson said he expects to see Parson|Niles of Wells Fargo Advisors keep growing.
“We’re going to continue to provide good investment advice for good outcomes, as Wells Fargo Advisors puts it as “Clients. First. Always. ” he said. “Will we be here in another 50 years? If we stay on the path we’re on now, yes.”
He said the group would like to have an open house this year to celebrate its milestone anniversary, but that depends on the status of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It would be nice to have some sort of celebration,” Parson said. “We’re one of the most established groups on the street and we are definitely proud of what we do and what we offer to our clients.”