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VOL. 125 | NO. 167 | Friday, August 27, 2010

Youth Isn’t a Hurdle for Red Door Founder Phillips

RICHARD J. ALLEY | Special to The Daily News

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Photo: Lance Murphey

The scant number of years John Phillips V has under his belt relative to others in his chosen industry is not lost on him.

“I’m young, I know that,” the 26-year-old said.

So Phillips, the founder and chief investment officer of Red Door Wealth Management, is not shy about calling on those with more experience and years who surround him.

“I enjoy learning from the experience of others,” he said. “I try to cram as much knowledge as I can into my brain at this point, but there’s only so much you can do without the experience. I definitely lean on older, wiser people so I don’t make the same mistakes they did.”

There is no shortage of, in his words, “gray hair” to advise him. Phillips and partner Fred Hiatt both worked previously for Waddell & Associates Inc. before being courted by the 16-year-old accounting firm Cannon Wright Blount.

“The next direction of the wealth management world is to partner or combine with an accounting firm which allows you a whole new level of services that you can provide for clients and their businesses,” he said. “We’re hoping this is the next evolution of the business, we’re trying to get ahead of the curve.”

Though partnered with Cannon Wright Blount, Red Door is a separate entity, Phillips said.

“We share intellectual capital back and forth with their 15 to 20 CPAs, so if we have a tax question we walk across the hall, and if they have investment advice that they need for a client, they step across the hall,” he said.

Doug Wright, owner and chief financial officer of Cannon Wright Blount, said the relationship between the two firms works well.

“We have always taken the approach of maintaining a certain amount of intimacy with our clients and their financial position, whether it be their business or their personal wealth,” he said. “We don’t separate the two and this helps us at CWB offer these services in a one-stop shop arrangement.”

Phillips also seeks advice from his lineage of financial experts. That includes grandfathers Edgar Bailey, the CEO and chairman of Leader Federal who helped take that company public as Union Planters, and John Phillips III, a managing partner with New England Financial, now Strategic Financial Partners.

Phillips’ uncle is Kirk Bailey, CEO and chairman of Magna Bank, and his father, John Phillips IV, has been in the insurance business for 30 years.

“Finance definitely runs in my blood,” Phillips said. “I did an internship with my father in the insurance world and that did not do it for me. Investments has always been something I’ve been geared towards and really enjoy.”

With that in mind, Red Door was created in early June and, in only three weeks, had amassed 20 clients representing more than $10 million in investments. The firm holds the majority of their clients’ wealth with a goal toward protecting that wealth while growing it strategically.

“Our main goal is to protect against the downside, 2008 is fresh in everyone’s memory,” Phillips said. “One of our strategies is the willingness to raise significant amounts of cash to protect against stock market and bond market volatility and risk … we’ve developed some strategies to help us identify, hopefully, peaks or dangerous times.”

Despite his age, or because of it, Phillips is a student of financial history and doesn’t mind – even looks forward to – hitting the books to gain more knowledge.

“I like the numbers, all the reading and trying to figure it out,” he said. “While most people sit on the beach and read novels, I sit on the beach and read statistical investment analysis books.”

It’s this dedication and work ethic that impressed the principals at Cannon Wright Blount.

“He is extremely sharp, extremely knowledgeable and truly an expert in his field,” Wright said. “I’m pretty amazed at his approach with financial markets, his application of knowledge and experience already.”

Though there isn’t much time for reading on the beach these days, Phillips does enjoy reading in his spare time, playing golf and hunting. A graduate of Memphis University School and the University of Virginia, Phillips studied psychology “to find out why humans overact in certain situations, particularly money issues,” he said. “I figured I could read as much on finance and statistics, but that’s something you can’t just teach yourself from the psychological side.”

It’s the human side that is so important because, though wealth management is a numbers game, there is no substitute for a close client relationship, the bedrock of any investment firm.

Even the name of his company borrows from American history when a red door meant a warm welcome to weary travelers.

“It goes back to relationship, we want you to feel welcome and to feel taken care of here,” Phillips said. “That’s our main priority.”

PROPERTY SALES 207 263 9,865
MORTGAGES 197 246 10,862
BUILDING PERMITS 138 686 21,643
BANKRUPTCIES 0 256 6,219