10 Questions with Steve Thompson, Financial Planner at Skylight’s Cleveland Office

He learned from a young age the importance of serving others and community and has a hidden talent involving fire, axes, and knives!  In the latest of our “Making It Personal” Q&A series, we discover a little more about one of our more experienced financial planners and Skylight Investment Specialist, Steve Thompson (that’s him on the left in case you are wondering).

What do you find most rewarding about being a financial planner?

Definitely the relationships I develop with clients.  It’s great seeing their families grow and seeing goals be realized.  Whether it’s watching a client move towards a comfortable retirement or whether it’s helping a client manage their finances so they have sufficient monthly income, I like helping them live their lives and enjoy each day.  That’s so rewarding.

If you hadn’t chosen to pursue a career as a financial planner, what do you think you would have been?

Strangely I was always going to be a financial planner because my Dad was one.  I saw how he worked, how he helped his clients and, from an early age, I wanted to do that.  I didn’t always understand what it would take but I really admired my dad and thought he did great work for other people.  My Dad has been in this business for about 57 years and just retired this year at age 79.  He’s also been with Skylight Financial for many years, so it has been great to work together.

What are your hobbies and interests outside of work?

I like to kayak as it’s relaxing and allows me to shut my mind down for a bit.  Many people don’t know this, but I have juggled since I was a kid.  Growing up I would juggle at birthday parties and make extra money, or even on the streets of Cleveland – putting a hat out and performing.  I juggle fire, axes, knives, etc.  I don’t have much time to do it now but still break out the equipment a few times a year.

Where are you from?

I’m from Cleveland and a lifelong fan of this city.  In the 1990s I spent about 10 years in Chicago managing an investment office, thinking that I would never return to Cleveland.  Then after 9/11 happened I thought life is too short not to be with my family, so I returned home and it was one of the best decisions I ever made.  Cleveland’s changed a lot in my lifetime and it’s great to see people coming back to downtown and setting up home.  It’s injected a real energy into our City and it’s exciting.

What is your biggest achievement?

My kids and their development into great students and members of their community.

You are actively involved in your community (Skylight Foundation, Tiger Prep, Empower Sports, Two Café and Care for Others) – what motivates you?

Growing up my parents were always giving to others – through personal contacts, to their children, and to non-profit organizations.  I noticed this and would ask my mom about different things they were doing in the community.  I was raised that we should always serve others, so I have tried to continue this.  My brother is also an executive director of a non-profit – “Youth For Christ” and has been with them almost 30 years now – so it’s a family thing.

I guess the motivating factor is the positive impact we can have on lives with thoughtful planning.  For example, as President of the Skylight Foundation, we strive/plan to have an impact on our community – whether that is helping immigrants achieve their US citizenship by helping to pay for their exam or bringing clothes to a local hospital for victims of sexual assault.  On the many boards, I serve I like to create things that can improve the quality of life for others.  At Skylight, we work a lot with the Special Needs community, so when we saw that there weren’t many sports opportunities for our kids we created Empower Sports many years ago.  Today that organization has gone on to provide hundreds of kids with opportunities to have fun and make new friends.   It takes time, but I love doing it.

What’s the most adventurous thing you’ve ever done?

When I was younger our church went on a survival trip way up in Canada.  I wasn’t really old enough to go, but my Dad was one of the leaders so I got to go.  Fishing for your meals, canoeing all day, setting up camp each night and really roughing it was tough but fun.  The experience taught me, at an early age, that I could push myself further than I thought.

Who do you most admire?

My Mom.  She passed away 5 years ago due to a stroke and it shocked us as it was completely unexpected.  She taught me most things and was incredible.  I try to carry on her tradition of serving others and our community.

Where does a financial planner, like yourself, like to grab a bite to eat?

I like Crop and Town Hall – you can’t go wrong.  The food is amazing and they are on our doorstep.  We don’t even have to leave the building for Crop.  I’m pretty predictable as I nearly always go for the “Mac & Brisket” which is delicious.  The only problem is that I’m ready for a nap after it!

What’s the most interesting place you’ve visited?

Hong Kong.  When I was in Chicago, I traveled there for business and it was really amazing.  The street vendors and vibe was so different from anywhere else I have been.

Thanks Steve for sharing with us.

Steven Thompson is a registered representative of and offers securities, investment advisory and financial planning services through MML Investors Services, LLC Member SIPC. 2012 W. 25th Street, Suite 900, Cleveland OH 44113. 216-621-5680.