John Sadler has seen wealth preserved, wealth lost, and wealth never realized.
Sadler, President of Chesapeake Wealth Management in Williamsburg, spent part of his childhood in the Philippines, where he witnessed crushing poverty.
“I remember seeing children naked and families living in makeshift homes constructed from scrap metal and discarded billboards,” says Sadler, 53. “It was appalling poverty and made me realize how good we have it in America.”
Sadler says the desire to give back and be part of a true community-dedicated company is one reason he sold his successful trust and estate law practice in Williamsburg to work for Chesapeake Wealth Management over six years ago.
“Chesapeake has a culture and long track record of community service,” says Sadler, who had served on the bank’s advisory board for a decade before joining the company. “Their genuine dedication to helping clients and giving back to the community was a major appeal to me. Also, serving on the advisory board gave me an inside glimpse of some extremely impressive people and exemplary ways of doing business.”
Life as an Army brat
Sadler’s childhood was nomadic. As the son of an U.S. Army Brigadier General, Sadler moved around, spending time in Hawaii, Kansas, Pennsylvania, Northern Virginia, and the Philippines.
In the Philippines, Sadler lived in a military compound attended by guards and maids that was shielded from the third-world struggles outside the gates. But every year, Sadler’s mother threw a huge party for the compound’s staff and their children which included teriyaki chicken, Hawaiian ribs, ice cream and cupcakes. At the end, each child received a goody bag with candy and a little toy.
“It was a fun day for me,” says Sadler, 10 at the time. “But it really struck home when I heard some of the families say it was the single greatest day of their lives.”
After graduating from Bruton High School in Williamsburg, Sadler received his bachelor’s degree from James Madison University where he majored in English and studied abroad at the University of London. While in London, Sadler met his future wife, Patrice, who was also part of JMU’s studies abroad group. After graduation, Sadler earned a law degree in 1991 from Western Michigan University Law School in Lansing.
Practicing ‘happy law’
For 20 years, Sadler enjoyed working with his trust and estate clients who were “motivated to get their affairs in order.” He referred to his practice as “happy law,” because it was always satisfying to see clients feel a burden lifted when they overcame procrastination and made a prudent estate plan.
As a trial lawyer, “I loved being in court and advocating before a judge or jury,” Sadler says. “What I didn’t enjoy much was the tedious process of getting to court – discovery, interrogatories, requests for production of documents, etc. It often took way too long to get to the fun part.”
During his legal career, Sadler sat on Chesapeake Bank’s advisory board discussing industry trends, passing along word-on-the-street news, and networking. In 2012, he had a “tap-on-the-shoulder moment” when he was offered the job of President of Chesapeake Trust Company.
“I believe in Chesapeake’s motto: It’s all about community,” Sadler says. His favorite way of giving back is through Kiwanis. Sadler has been a member of the Kiwanis Club of Williamsburg for 21 years and has served as Club President, President of the Williamsburg Kiwanis Foundation, and Chairman of the Colonial Polo Cup.
Today, as President of Chesapeake Wealth Management, Sadler oversees 19 employees and over $400 million in assets under management.
“The most satisfying part of my job is working with terrific teammates to help our clients achieve the satisfaction that comes from having a prudent, long-term wealth management plan. We like to call it ‘peace of mind grown locally.’”
Tips on getting your affairs in order
A prudent plan involves not only proper management of assets during one’s lifetime, but also the customized passing down of a legacy. We asked Sadler to give our readers tips on how to begin the process of getting their affairs in order.
- Work with properly credentialed advisors such as a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), a Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA), and an attorney who focuses on estate planning.
- Do not settle for a ‘cookie cutter’ plan. Make sure your financial and estate plan is customized to your unique needs and goals, and that your advisors have the knowledge and experience to handle both financial and estate matters.
- Know exactly what fees you are paying (including those which may not be apparent on your statement), and know exactly how your advisor profits from any funds, products or strategies he or she recommends.
- Know who are the real decision-makers on your accounts. Is your advisor’s expertise in-house, or outsourced? Are the substantive decisions on your account really being made by your advisor, or by fund managers or trust officers from afar?
- Even if your heirs are all adults, consider whether it makes sense to protect their inheritances from “creditors and predators”, poor money management, divorce suits and unforeseen liabilities.
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