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DOWNEY – Jason Valle, whose family has lived in Downey for more than 35 years, was relating how as a financial advisor around the pivot year 2008 he advised his clients to unload their securities holdings because he somehow foresaw the coming financial collapse.
During this time, he says, half of the people in the financial industry were losing clients and assets.
When he partnered with another financial advisor like himself and started their own financial services firm in 2011, he encountered no trouble in getting these former now-grateful clients in entrusting the management of their investments to their newly-formed Los Alamitos-based firm, Independence Financial.
Jason had worked as a financial advisor with FMC Financial Group in Newport Beach from April 2008 to October 2011, and prior to this as sales director for Dwellings Real Estate in Los Angeles from February 2005 to April 2008.
Today, Jason says Independence Financial’s portfolio has reached a robust and exhilarating $50 million in holdings (including sales of insurance products), which is very good in any language, certainly a solid achievement considering the firm operates with just a five-member staff, consisting of his Vietnamese partner, Mai Vu, who has an MBA with honors from the University of Irvine; Jason, who has a BA with honors from Loyola Marymount University, plus a full year of law; a health insurance specialist; a junior financial advisor; and a full-time assistant and office manager.
“I handle the investment research part and deal mainly with Spanish-speaking/Mexican-American clients, while Mai takes care of the Vietnamese community,” says Jason, whose mother was born in Havana, Cuba while his father came from Nicaragua. “The 30-odd percent Filipino, Japanese, etc., groups we divide between ourselves.”
“Our investment strategy is sector-based,” he continues. “We lump together our investment portfolios, say, in real estate securities, or in health care, or financial services, or Obamacare. We’ve never gone in for speculation. We’re content to hold securities that give steady, moderate returns over the long-term.”
“And this is one reason, I’m sure, why we have a growing clientele which at current estimates now total more than 600 clients,” Jason says.
Jason’s degree from Loyola Marymount had history as his major, classics his minor, with business law as his concentration. As mentioned earlier, he tried law for a year, but that didn’t jell. So he did real estate, or property investment, with Dwellings Real Estate, which had dealings in Dubai.
“While with them I got to travel a lot. They even wanted me to go to Dubai,” he continues. “Then after joining FMC in 2008, they made me take graduate school-based correspondence courses which originated from the American College in Pennsylvania. It was then that I got my investment and securities license to become a financial advisor. Then out of the blue I met Mai, as smart and savvy in the financial services area as there is.”
Jason is a product of Rio San Gabriel Elementary and East (now Doty) Middle School, as well as Don Bosco Tech in Rosemead where he opted for the 5-year, college-credit program. Also at Don Bosco he was at one time Scholar-Athlete of the Year and, while enrolled in its electronics and computer program, was very active with the robotics team; he was voted best varsity doubles player while graduating third in class. He has by the way maintained his ‘A’ tennis player ranking, obtained through the USJTA then and through the USTA now.
He met future wife Natalie at St. Raymond’s; the couple now has a 2-1/2 year-old daughter, Jacqueline, nicknamed Jackie. Natalie did breast cancer research at City of Hope prior to joining Rancho Los Amigos three years ago where she currently does stroke and neurology research.
A member of the morning Downey Kiwanians since 2012, Jason was rumored to be a potential candidate to take over Mario Guerra’s City Council soon-to-be-vacant seat later this year, but Jason says he’s definitely not a candidate this time because of family-related reasons.
“Perhaps some other time in the future,” he says.
In the meantime, he serves as a commissioner for the Downey Public Facilities Financing Corporation which among other things advises on or actually handles bond financing and other community development projects for the city.
He has of course received numerous awards and distinctions over the years but this is not so important, he says, as actually giving back to the Downey community “which raised me.”
Indeed, he and Mai have a non-profit pro bono program going, wherein they offer free one-hour financial workshops for people who have been laid off, offering job training opportunities as well as job counseling, and the like. Often such non-profs as Goodwill Industries, etc., take advantage of the program.
He estimates the program touches about 1,000 people a year.
Published: Feb. 6, 2014 – Volume 12 – Issue 43