The average financial advisor is 56 years old. Tony Seery, Southwestern Adventist University grad and a financial advisor with his own Edward Jones Investment office, is in his 20s.
“There were over 14,000 applicants to the special training program I applied to my senior year at SWAU,” Seery recalls. “Only 200 got in.”
Seery was one of the 200. His experience as a student at SWAU not only prepared him for success, but also solidified his faith in God. Now, Seery uses his time and money to give back to the University, and to help other students follow in his footsteps.
As a third-generation SWAU alumnus, Seery graduated in 2015 with a Bachelor of Business Administration and a concentration in finance. Though he started at community college and was offered a full ride at Texas Christian University, he chose to complete his degree at SWAU.
“I could have gotten an education elsewhere,” he admits, “but I don’t know if there’s any better place in the world I could have deepened my relationship with God.”
Though Seery views one’s spiritual journey as a personal experience, he says it helps to have people around you who understand that journey because they are on it, too.
“When you’re surrounded by people who want to grow spiritually, it gives you extra motivation to do that, too,” he says. “The friends I made and the professors I had at SWAU were really strong in their faith, and they made me want to be stronger in mine.”
The classes he took also motivated him; Seery says the variety of people who taught his classes really gave him a broad perspective for his future. It was his Profiles of Entrepreneurship course that was not only his favorite, but that led Seery to his current job.
“A lot of classes are just a book,” Seery points out, “but this class had coursework as well as speakers from different careers to talk about the work, so we could learn about what we were reading from someone who was in it right then.”
One of the presenters that year was an Edward Jones financial advisor, who talked about a training program they offered for seniors in college. Though he was a junior, Seery stayed behind to talk to her about it, and the following year she referred him to the home office to become a financial advisor.
Another class gave him the opportunity to participate in The Business Strategy Game, a complex globally competitive program where students manage an imaginary company and attempt to increase the value of their “market shares” within an industry. At the end of the term, Seery’s team ranked among the top one percent in the nation.
It wasn’t just the courses that prepared him for his career; it was also the student groups and clubs he was a part of, such as Enactus. Enactus is an international nonprofit focused on entrepreneurship, uniting business leaders, academic leaders and students to utilize their business skills to improve their communities and the world.
“Enactus was hugely impactful to me,” he says. “The idea is that you create projects that help the community in sustainable ways, and we got to do that hands-on, with real people and real money–which we had to find on our own.”
For his final year-and-a-half at SWAU, Seery was Enactus president. Among other projects, he led the group to raise funds for and build a community greenhouse on a Navajo reservation so the locals could have fresh produce during the winter. They taught the community members to grow cucumbers so they could make pickles, sell them and use the proceeds to buy more seeds for the greenhouse. Since Seery has graduated, SWAU’s Enactus program has built additional greenhouses for the same purpose.
“At the end of each school year we traveled to a big event where we and a bunch of other school groups presented the results of our projects,” Seery says. “We presented to executives from places like WalMart, Schwans, CVS and others. The whole Enactus experience helped me so much in my leadership and speaking skills, and I’ve found that practice of developing real business plans so useful in my career.”
In his role as financial advisor with Edward Jones, Seery coaches new employees, helping them get their feet under them and acting as a mentor as they begin their careers with the company.
“To be successful in this line of work, you have to have resiliency, determination and good work ethic,” Seery says. “That, among other reasons, makes me so glad to have chosen SWAU for my education, because it was there that I learned and enhanced all of those things in myself.”
For Seery, those “other reasons” included the personal relationships with teachers, the small class sizes, close and meaningful friendships and a sense that the University employees care deeply for the students.
“You’re not just a number or a person in a seat at SWAU,” he says. “The faculty and staff all want you to succeed personally, and they’ll do everything within their power to help you get there. It takes hard work and good study habits, too, but with the support of the people of SWAU, success is not only likely, but probable.”
This is why Seery gives to SWAU. Not only has he contributed to specific projects and to students who needed an extra boost in their finances to get them to graduation, but he has also given toward the general Southwestern Fund, and he is now also giving his time. Seery has recently started serving on the SWAU alumni board.
“I accepted the position because I want people my age to understand what SWAU is doing and why they should be involved,” Seery says. “I want to give back in any way I can because I love this school.”
Seery knows that if he remains in his line of work he could potentially increase his income significantly. This excites him because if that happens, he’ll be able to support SWAU even more.
“When I think about what I’ve been given, it’s God who’s given me everything,” he says. “I hope to continue to give more throughout my life, because I want to have a positive impact wherever I can.”
Seery sees himself giving more not only financially, but also of his time, and he hopes to eventually serve on the Board of Trustees, and perhaps teach a finance class or two at some point.
“I just want to do more,” he says simply. “I want to ensure more people can continue to have the same experience at SWAU as I did. I love the teachers; I love the leadership and I want to see it be even better than when I was a student. That’s what giving to SWAU is to me–doing what I can to make a great thing even better.”