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From Fraud Victim to Finance Guru: Family Financial Tragedy Inspired My Business

Stephen Rischall, co-founder of 1080 Financial Group

The following piece was contributed as part of Business News Daily's byline series:

Prior to my graduating from high school, something horrible happened to my family.

My mom became the victim of financial fraud. It wasn't your typical Ponzi scheme or "get rich quick" idea. Someone my mom trusted and cared for had gained access to all of her financial accounts. This person was funneling money out of her accounts, sometimes with my mom's authorization, but most of the time, she wasn't aware.

The money was supposedly being used to start different businesses, all of which failed. To make matters worse, some of her accounts were used as collateral for loans, which we are still dealing with to this day.

While all of this was happening, my mom had a financial adviser. He never intervened, nor did he do much to help after the fact. I didn't understand how any of this could happen; I thought the reason she had a financial adviser was to look after all her finances, but that wasn't the case.

I've come to learn that most financial "advisers" are just brokers. Simply put, they are salespeople. In reviewing the "work" my mother's adviser did, he just sold her annuities and insurance policies, which didn't really align with her financial situation or goals.

In the end, we were able to fix some of the damage, but it was nearly impossible to recover most of what was lost. My basic investing knowledge wasn't enough to help my mom, and I could do better.

The Pup of Wall Street

When I was young, my dad would talk about stocks that he owned and show me their prices in the newspaper. I thought it was cool that you could own a piece of a large company and make money when they did well.

At the age of thirteen, I received money as a gift and asked my parents if I could try investing it on my own. They helped me setup an online trading account; this was my first time investing real money. In hindsight, I realize how lucky I was because I started by investing in technology companies that I thought were cool.

As I prepared to begin my freshman year of college, I decided it was time to learn more about business and finance. I had the honor of helping to manage the University Corporation Student Investment Fund, and by the time I graduated I was fully licensed to work in the financial services industry. Several large financial firms gave me enticing offers, but their salesy mentality was off-putting and the conflicts of interest became obvious.

Lessons learned

Since the unfortunate incident in high school, its outcome continues to fuel my passion for helping people become more aware of their finances and how today's decisions impact their future.

While it has been difficult to build an independent practice, I can certainly say it's one of the best decisions I've ever made. More importantly, I feel good about what I'm doing and why I'm doing it. With help from my business partner we've built a successful fiduciary financial advice and investment management firm.

About the author: Stephen Rischall is an award-winning financial adviser, public speaker and co-founder of Los Angeles-based 1080 Financial Group. He provides expert financial advice for millennials and entrepreneurs and has been recognized as one of the top 40 financial professionals under age 40 in the financial services industry.

Edited for length and clarity by Shannon Gausepohl. Have a great entrepreneurial story to tell? Contact Shannon at to learn more about our contributed content program.

Image Credit: Stephen Rischall