It’s been 14 years since Christopher Ollis began working in financial services. Now, he is a Certified financial planner and a vice president and portfolio manager at The Commerce Trust Co., but he acknowledges humble beginnings in the industry.
“With no previous job experience and very little exposure to wealthy individuals, it was a challenge gaining the trust of would-be clients,” Ollis says. “In effect, I was self-employed, so I didn’t have much in the way of salary. To the unending amusement of my friends, I had to live with my parents for the first three years of my exciting career in finance. In my first seven years, I only took two one-week vacations.”
Ollis worked those seven years with A.G. Edwards & Sons prior to joining The Commerce Trust Co. in 2004.
“While those first few years were not a lot of fun, I was committed to building my business. I built trust with my clients by being as clear as possible about the down side risk of potential investments,” he says. “I quickly learned that managing unrealistic client expectations was equally as important as managing investments. You can only build long-term relationships with clients who have expectations grounded in reality.”
A Certified financial planner since 2006, Ollis says three basic principles guide his leadership style.
“A team needs to have a vision for where it is going; its members need to be accountable to one another; and everyone needs to focus on the long-term results,” he says.
Ollis had a prime opportunity to tap into that philosophy in 2009, when Springfield Little Theater turned 75 and the Landers Theater celebrated its 100th anniversary. Ollis, a member of the SLT Board of Directors, was chairman of the committee charged with organizing an event to celebrate these significant milestones – an effort that got under way in 2007.
“This was one big project where my instincts told me to take things very slowly and let the group mill things over before making a decision,” he says of the challenge that came with incorporating a rich history of people and productions.
The end result was The Diamond Centennial Celebration, which blended memories and entertainment – and raised $20,000.
Ollis also has been involved with the Springfield Jaycees, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce and as a past team captain for the Sertoma Chili Cook-Off, benefiting Boys & Girls Clubs of Springfield.
He also is a member of Leadership Springfield’s Class XXVI. His class is working on a small remodeling project for Harmony House-Family Violence Prevention Center, and Ollis is on the fundraising committee.
“While I have not yet completed the Leadership Springfield program, it has opened my eyes to a wealth of new community service opportunities.”Click here for full coverage of the 2011 40 Under 40.