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Roy Y. Gagaza: A Brief Bio and Interview with the Founder of Journey Wealth Management, LLC

Roy Y. Gagaza, the CEO and Founder at Journey Wealth Management, LLC, retired in 2008 following nearly 25 years of distinguished service as an enlisted soldier out of high school, cadet and officer in the U.S. Army Reserves while in college and 20 years on active duty as an officer in the U.S. Army. During those years, Roy was twice awarded the Bronze Star, a distinction which represents “Heroic or meritorious Achievement…while engaged in an action or operation against an enemy of the United States.” 

Prior to his military service, Roy completed a bachelor’s degree in business marketing from San Jose State University, attending between 1984 and 1988. As a result, Roy was well positioned to enter the financial services industry in 1998 while on active duty.  Roy continued his practice after retiring from the military in 2008 and founded Journey Wealth Management, LLC, in January, 2010 and presently maintains two offices in Hawaii, in Waipahu and Honolulu, and one in Manteca, California.

Roy Gagaza collaborates closely with his clients to achieve financial security in their own retirement years. In service to that goal he has earned accreditation as a Financial Professional, a Certified Estate Planner, CEP, and a Registered Financial Consultant, RFC. In addition, Roy holds insurance licenses in Hawaii (458231) and in California (0L87925).

Roy has received several awards and recognitions for outstanding service to his clients. On January 5, 2023, Roy and his wife Patricia, co-founder and CFO at Journey Wealth Management, were inducted into the Advisors Excel Hall of Fame. Every year since 2018, Roy has received the Advisors Excel Elite Advisor Award, the Security Benefit Elite Advisor Award in 2018 and 2020, the Athene Summit Club in 2021 and 2022 and the Allianz Century Award representing the achievement of $100 million in premium. 

Roy and Patricia have two daughters, Kyrie and Mackenzie, and one son, Grant. In his free time, Roy enjoys spending time in the tropical waters, perfecting his golf game, traveling widely, and reading. Throughout his career, Roy has both served his community and broadened his professional network by working with local school districts, collaborating with the highway patrol, local CPAs, and the Chamber of Commerce in a number of locations.

Where did the idea for Journey Wealth Management come from?

About 10 years into my military career, my wife and I started thinking about what we would eventually do outside of the military. We started to think about a retirement plan. But little did we know that our path toward retirement could someday help clients achieve the same end. 

Recognizing that I needed a career beyond the military, I began by developing an educational seminar on financial security in order to test out the market in Northern California.  I did this after duty hours and on weekends to slowly build my client base.  Based on that success, I then led more educational seminars and reached hundreds of individuals approaching or already in retirement. I continued to provide these seminars and services throughout my last ten years in military service.  After retiring in 2008, my wife and I used this same process in Oahu, Hawaii.  Today we have clients spread out across the country.

What does your Typical work day look like and how do you make it productive?

What’s most typical about my work day is that it’s always different. I travel every two weeks between Hawaii and California and I provide financial guidance to people I meet, counseling both clients and prospective clients on spending plans, and consulting on how to create the most tax-efficient strategies for managing retirement income and assets.

How do you bring your ideas to life?

At Journey Wealth Management, LLC, we believe that people’s dreams matter. Everyone should be able to live the retirement life they’ve always wanted. 

I have assembled a highly qualified team. They are passionate about helping individuals and families create and achieve their financial goals and truly enjoy their retirement years. Our team helps clients create a well-thought-out strategy using a variety of plans, including insurance products and services, to meet their financial needs and concerns. I especially enjoy capitalizing on my own life experiences and translating them into gains for my clients.

A key to this strategy is understanding that ideas come to life best through relationships. I always take time to get to know each client and understand their goals and dreams.  Only by establishing a complete understanding of their personal situation can I build a personalized plan that delivers strong results.

I especially like working with seniors—the 55-plus market. I get along best with people who are older than I. They’ve gone through so much and seen so many things in their life. They deserve professional goal-setting and sound financial guidance for their financial resources. In this way I create an experience unlike many others in the financial planning and consulting business. This is what brings the dream of a financially secure retirement to life.

What’s one trend that excites you?

I’m excited by bucking the trend! I’m opposed to a world that is more than ever bent on yielding to an always-on, on-demand, fast-track society. At Journey Wealth Management we reverse that trend by returning to the traditional values of long-term, personal relationships. A client’s finances and life-long retirement dreams deserve nothing less.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

It’s a very simple habit: hard work combined with a pragmatic approach to education and business. That’s the solid basis we’ve built our business on. We’re known for outworking everyone around us. With full-time offices in both Hawaii and California, we serve two markets better than many firms serve one.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I’d encourage myself to do what life has now taught me works best. It’s nothing I didn’t know before, but I was never too young for advice about living a well-balanced life of integrity and commitment to my family. I’d also remind myself to be a friend to my clients and sincerely invest in their successes and wellbeing. If my younger self ever doubted the value of education, I’d advise myself to get all I could out of learning from my peers in the financial industry, my university and military life. 

Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.

There are actually three important aspects of financial management in which I disagree with many.

First, too many people follow dangerous paths to financial security. I work in two markets with very different outlooks on gaining and keeping wealth. In general, they disagree with each other and I disagree with them both. It has to do with financial risk vs security.

Journey Wealth Management’s Hawaiian clients tend to be more conservative with their capital and assets while some Northern Californians, especially in the technology area, tend to “play” their stocks and push excessive risk. I disagree with both strategies when carried too far.

As a result, I encourage and educate conservative clients to acheive higher yields to prevent losses due to stagnation.  On the other hand, I work to mediate risk for those inclined to gamble unwisely by investing in too many high-risk stocks and financial products. It takes a delicate touch and a solid client relationship to settle these disagreements.  

Second, I disagree with folks who retire and happily go about spending without planning. Too many people get into financial trouble within the five years before or after their retirement. People get in their “red zone” where they believe they’ve made it. They say things like: “Let’s go on that cruise we’ve always wanted. Or let’s go on 12 of them.” It takes a constructive kind of disagreement to save that retirement and achieve those goals safely. The strong, personal client relationships we create can make that happen. 

I also disagree that a few big, impersonal corporate clients can pave the way to success. I’d rather build a business on referrals from a community of well served, individual clients with whom I have built personalized financial strategies.

What are the specific areas in which you offer services?

Though the services I provide are individualized for each client, those services fall into three distinct categories.

The first service is Growth. On retirement, a lifetime of hard-earned assets can be put to work through a retirement income strategy such as an annuity. A client deposits a large sum with an insurance company who then makes regular payments back to the client over time out of the fund-growth in that account. Selecting the carrier and amount is best accomplished with a Financial Professional, a Certified Estate Planner, CEP, and a Registered Financial Consultant, RFC.

The second service is to Preserve and Protect a client’s assets in a way that helps them live the retirement they’ve always imagined. Asset protection strategies include life insurance, tax-efficient strategies, and long-term care strategies carefully developed for each client’s unique needs and preferences.

The third asset management strategy is Giving. In this strategy a client provides for the people and causes they care about the most. This is called legacy planning.

What is the unique perspective offered by Journey Wealth Management, LLC?

I create a bespoke, comprehensive, holistic strategy for each client based on the individual’s unique preferences and needs for asset preservation, risk reduction, and principal protection. This is only possible by creating long-term relationships with my clients and their families. 

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business? Please explain how.

I help my clients work towards their own, personal dream retirement. Together we develop well-thought-out strategies to preserve hard-won assets, adopt tax-efficient strategies that reduce tax liabilities, and create retirement income to enjoy their golden years with peace of mind. This produces a unique, individualized outlook that takes into account other factors such as community service and financial education suited for people from all walks of life. 

What is the role of family in your business?

Because of my family, I have led a rich and enjoyable life beyond the military and beyond the office walls. My wife, Patricia, co-founded Journey Wealth Management, LLC with me. She is now my most indispensable colleague. She has been by my side through the past 24 years, not only in business but as a military wife. 

We believe our example has led our children, in one way or another, to either follow in our footsteps or help guide or teach others in their own ways.

Our son, the youngest child, Grant, decided to follow in my example after graduating from the University of Pacific with a degree in Business Finance. He has now earned his Life and Health Insurance license. Our middle child, Mackenzie, recently married and has a Masters of Education in Literacy and teaches high school English. Our oldest child, Kyrie, is also married and recently gave birth to our first grandchild, Eleanor.  Kyrie earned a Masters Degree in Business Administration and continues her career as the Senior Team Lead, Marketing Operations at Yardi Systems, a real estate software firm. Family is a fundamental ingredient for success.

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