October 2010

The Least Of Their Worries

Author: Paul deVere | Photographer: Photography by Anne

Financial advisor Todd Crutchley and family set down solid roots in the Lowcountry 19 years ago. As an “Army brat,” he grew up everywhere. “I was born in Hawaii when it was a territory. My kids say that makes me really, really old. I think it makes me cool,” Crutchley said, laughing.

Though rather self-effacing, Crutchley does do “cool” things. He still plays adult soccer and drives an old Swiss Army Pinzgauer 716M, which he bought off the Internet, to work. This ultimate 4×4 is definitely cool.

Crutchley graduated from the American High School in Stuttgart, Germany, in 1974. He recently attended a reunion and jokingly observed, “Those cheerleaders were just as irritating at 60 as they were when they were 15.”

He spent six years in the U.S. Army following graduation from The Citadel in 1978. One of his tours took him to Lebanon. “I got to Beirut two weeks after U.S. Embassy bombing and left a few days before the Marines barracks bombing. I would have been there if we had not left that week,” Crutchley recalled. He very distinctly remembers why he left. His wife, Virginia, was about to deliver their first child.

While he was at The Citadel, he learned about and enjoyed the Lowcountry, though he didn’t really know Hilton Head existed. But a job offer from a brokerage house brought his young family to the island. He was in New England at the time and he and Virginia, who is from Charleston, wanted to move back the South Carolina.

And it definitely suited. “It was the atmosphere, weather, the slower pace of life and now the ‘Bluffton state of mind’,” Crutchley said. He is a senior vice president with Stifel, Nicolaus & Company, a full-service securities-related financial services company headquartered in St. Louis, Missouri. Crutchley heads up a branch office on May River Road in old town Bluffton.

He joined the company two years ago and opened the Bluffton office when his former firm changed ownership. “It started to have that ‘big bank’ feel,” Crutchley explained, “while Stifel has a small town type atmosphere.” So he switched. He describes Stifel as “very client oriented,” and that suits the way he likes to do things.

Being in the financial services business these past few years hasn’t been easy, Crutchley admits. “There have been huge changes, a lot of consolidation, and a lot of the old line firms are gone. A number of firms were taking risks that were just not suitable, in fact they were outrageous,” he said, then added, “Stifel wasn’t one of them. “It is a very conservatively run company; its balance sheet is very strong, and it wasn’t subject to any of those problems.”

But Stifel is definitely “old line.” The company started doing business the same year the Pritchard House was built in Bluffton: 1890.

Actually, Stifel’s changes have been going in the other direction. It was named to Fortune magazine’s annual 100 Fastest-Growing Companies list for a second consecutive year. The company ranked #5 in the Financial Services Industry and #65 overall. “I get exceptional service through this firm,” Crutchley said.

Crutchley also said that the online discount brokerage companies haven’t really affected him. “That hasn’t influenced me at all. In my business, people still want to talk to somebody. They still want to sit across from somebody. They want to feel a commitment. Being in that same geographical area as your client is part of that commitment. I like to be able to visit with them, talk to them and understand their needs,” Crutchley explained. “With the online brokerage companies all you’re buying is a trade. I’m here for a relationship.”

Crutchley has been in the financial services business for over two decades and enjoys it immensely, especially financial planning. “I like the interaction of people. I like the planning aspect, helping people have their dreams. My goal is to be the least of their worries, to be in the background,” Crutchley said. “We basically start off with goals and work backwards. Really, the financial plan is not difficult. The road is wide; you just need to stay between the lines. We try to come up with a financial plan they can live with, be comfortable with, within their tolerances.” While his biggest challenge is to help clients understand the reality of the market, there is one thing Crutchley said he learned a long time ago. “People understand cash. They don’t necessarily understand stocks; they don’t understand bonds and how they relate. But they understand cash. I make sure that when they want their cash, it’s there.”

Crutchley will be there too, in the background.

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