It is safe to say that, despite his youth, Harry Willsher has already come a long way in life.
The Bournemouth, England native decided to leave the United Kingdom as a young man and attend college in the United States, partly fueled by a dream of playing intercollegiate golf in this country.
“I knew from around nine years of age that I wanted to come to the states for college,” Willsher said. “I wanted to come here to play college golf after travelling to Florida with my family and seeing what golf courses were like. I saw what college life was like from movies and the internet, and after more research on college golf in the U.S., I knew it was the right fit for me.”
After teeing off his college career at a junior college, Willsher’s travels landed him at William Woods University as a transfer student-athlete. Four years later, he had earned an undergraduate degree in business with a concentration in finance/economics and his Master’s in Business Administration at The Woods, as part of the University’s Graduate Plus program. And now, the young man who had already traveled halfway around the world for his college education was on the move again – to his dream job working in wealth management.
“I have always loved helping people in whatever I do and helping someone manage their money is so important because so many people do not know what to do even with basic financial management,” said Willsher, who recently secured a new position as a client relationship manager with the Clayton (Mo.) Financial Group. “I enjoy working with numbers and also love face-to-face interactions, so wealth management is a great mix of those things.”
It looks like the well-traveled young man is right where he wants to be for the moment, but don’t rule out more upward movement – it is in his nature.
“Eventually, I would like to own my own company and run a team of analysts and advisors who are all working toward a common goal of helping our clients achieve and exceed their financial goals,” he said.
Greener grass at The Woods
When looking for options to transfer after two years at junior college, Willsher found the perfect fit at William Woods, which has developed a reputation as an outstanding location for transfer students.
“I loved the idea of small campus with a family-like feel, with everything close by,” Harry said. “My degree option was perfect, and faculty like Brenda Popp were great in getting me into all the right classes. The registrar’s office helped a lot on the visa side of my application to WWU, providing me with all the necessary information and more, as an international student.”
“Playing golf as a student-athlete at William Woods was also a fantastic experience,” he added, “I got to compete with some amazing guys who were all extremely competitive. Overall, the friendships and connections I made have been incredible. I have been able to travel to all kinds of places with people I have met at William Woods, so I am extremely grateful for that.”
But what really stood out for Willsher during his time in Fulton was his degree program and his professors. This included business classes that were very hands on and applicable to the corporate world. And learning theories and applying and testing them in real world situations for after graduation. Or conducting research and then presenting the information in front of professors and outside judges to help develop presentation and public speaking skills, both of which are critically important to finding success in his industry.
“Having access to great professors 24/7 allowed me to discuss ideas, no matter how big or small, and helped me develop not only my technical skills but also interpersonal skills by conversing with them on a daily basis on a multitude of topics,” said Willsher. “Everyone in the business department was fantastic, from Brenda Popp who was a close mentor and helped with so much, in and outside the classroom, to Dave Forster and Dr. Stephen Forsha, who taught me many lectures that I will never forget, to Dr. Thomas Trice, who was excellent in the MBA program.”
Armed with two hard-earned, valuable degrees and a world of experiences both inside and outside the classroom at WWU, Willsher was making his move, yet again.
In The Money
Willsher’s hard work paid off with a position as a Client Relationship Manager at Clayton Financial Group, located in the St. Louis suburb of Clayton, shortly after receiving his MBA from William Woods. Clayton Financial Group is an independent financial advisory firm that partners with individuals and families in 32 states and manages a portfolio of more than $945 million for corporate executives, entrepreneurs, retirees, and others. The company also works with companies to manage their retirement plans, striving to get the best return on employee investments with menus of carefully-screened investment offerings.
Handling the money and retirement strategies for a wide range of individuals, families and corporations will be a big responsibility for even a veteran wealth management manager, but Willsher is confident he can thrive in the high-pressure environment.
“My main function is analyzing and preparing financial reviews for clients, and then presenting changes and recommendations to them,” he said. “The challenge is learning how to build relationships with the clients and mixing the technical side of the job with the people skills.”
Fortunately, Willsher can draw upon his experience at William Woods as he forges ahead in the corporate world, where the lessons of his college education, both inside and outside the classroom, will continue to resonate. His advice to individuals looking to follow in his footsteps in the wealth management industry?
“Learn as much theory and technical application as you can, so that when someone asks you a question, whether teammate or client, you can give an educated response,” he said. “Second, be sure to network, network and network! Learn how to have conversations with all kinds of different people as you never know who you might meet, because even a short conversation with the right person can lead to great things.”
“Finally, get comfortable not knowing the answers. It is okay to not know the answer right away, but understand how to figure it out as quickly as possible by using all your resources.” Harry Willsher is already proving to himself be considered an asset, working in a world of financial assets. For a young man that has traveled a long way in his young life, he has all the characteristics of someone who has truly arrived.