Get to know Zach Gray
Zach has always believed in planting deep roots in everything he’s done, remaining committed long enough and working hard enough to watch his endeavors flourish over time.
But for Zach, planting deep roots goes even further than commitment and hard work; it’s about staying true to his values and developing deep connections with the people in his life.
As an advisor, planting deep roots means providing his clients with customized financial advice and building a tailored, grounded, solid plan that helps protect their assets and grow what is most valuable to them and their families.
It also means deeply valuing the connection he builds with his clients and their families, as an extension of his own.
Life on the farm
This combination of commitment and connection has always been a tightly woven thread throughout Zach’s life.
Zach was born in a rural community in Illinois to parents who showed him the value of hard work. His father owned a construction company and his mother was a nurse who grew up working on her family farm.
When Zach was 8 years old, his mother decided to further instill the value of commitment and hard work in her children by purchasing some cattle for them to take care of and begin to show.
It started out rough. The cattle they purchased were simply not cut out for the show ring, and Zach soon learned how much hard work it was going to take to be successful in this new family endeavor.
At one cattle show in particular, he remembers the crushing feeling of placing dead last - and how he quickly decided that would be the last time that happened.
Zach threw all of himself into learning how to be competitive as a showman and dedicated all of his childhood years to his cattle farm. Come rain or shine (or a cold Illinois morning at -20 degrees), Zach would make his way around the farm every single day, working hard to care for his cattle.
As Zach grew, so did the quality of the cattle he showed, and in his teen years, Zach began competing at a state and national level. Eventually, his dream came true: His cattle indeed became champions, winning the coveted Grand Champion prize at the Illinois State Fair Steer Show, among others.
This served as a very formative experience for Zach, teaching him that when he put all of himself into something and stayed in it long enough, he would succeed, no matter what he was given to begin with.
But when Zach recalls his adolescent years as a cattle showman, there’s always something deeper that reveals itself: the sense of connection those experiences created for him.
Working on the farm created a way to share a special connection with his mother, and showing his cattle gave him the opportunity to build deeper connections with his community.
Finding a way to create deeper connections with the people in his life has always been something that has called to Zach.
Hard work pays off … and paves the way
The work ethic, focus, and commitment to excellence that Zach learned in his early farm days continued to carry over into everything he did. If you ask him what his natural level of athletic ability was as a teenager, he may describe his younger self akin to his cattle in their early days: rough around the edges and needing some polishing up.
But Zach, no stranger to pulling himself up by the bootstraps, dug in and learned everything he could to pursue the sport he felt most passionate about: football. He put all of his focus there, excluding all other sports and pouring everything he could into being the best football player he could be, which led to him becoming, simply put, one of the best.
He greatly excelled as a defensive player on his high school team, and his talent eventually caught the eye of the University of Illinois, earning him a full-ride scholarship to play for the Fighting Illini.
After suffering a major injury in his senior year, Zach’s football career came to an end … but his journey to finding his true path was now beginning.
The path made clear
While playing football in college, Zach felt drawn to studying both education and finance.
What drew Zach to education is the same thing that makes him the financial advisor he is today: his personal understanding of the value of having a trustworthy guide for the important things in one’s life.
Zach always relied on his own commitment and work ethic to pave his path to success. When thinking back on some of those pivotal experiences in farming and football, he recalls how much he would have appreciated someone there to shepherd the way … a person who had gone before him who could offer insight and make things a bit easier.
Zach also wished his grandparents had more guidance, specifically in the area of finance, hence his draw to study this subject in college as well.
As a young adult, he witnessed his maternal grandfather spend most of his retirement, and life savings, caring for his ill wife.
He also witnessed his paternal grandmother lose her opportunity of a financially abundant retirement after her husband passed away shortly after she retired, losing his pension and his portion of Social Security.
Both grandparents also lost money in the 2000 market collapse, and neither of them had a solid plan in place to ensure they each were able to have the happy retirement they deserved and worked so hard for.
After college, Zach was offered the opportunity to work at a captive insurance company, the management of which felt that Zach would be a great fit to build out their financial planning sector. Zach began studying and went through the examination process, eventually beginning his work as a financial advisor.
And his newfound position as a financial advisor was, indeed, the perfect fit.
Zach brought his passion for being a supportive guide to an area he both excels in naturally and cares deeply about, and his true career path took root.
A Rooted Financial Plan
As was his tendency, while he was with the captive insurance company, Zach worked hard to help his office excel.
As his career continued successfully, the investment industry introduced the opportunity to become an independent advisor who worked to make sure that his clients' strategies aligned with their financial goals.
Zach knew this was the path for him, and the decision to become an independent advisor and build a practice that was fully representative of his morals and values was the catalyst for beginning his own firm, Rooted Wealth Advisors.
Throughout his career of almost two decades, Zach has learned that his values of hard work and deep roots still prove to be what ensures his success … and it's his goal to help his clients work toward success.
Zach wished his grandparents would have had a plan that went beyond a cookie-cutter approach.
That is why Zach created the Rooted Retirement Process, a process for creating a grounded, individualized, long-term plan for each of his clients that helps protect their assets and works to create a confident financial future for their family, and for the legacy of their retirement.
Zach greatly values family. Zach and his wife, Jenna, have four children. Daughters Roh, 6, and Wynstin, 4, a set of fraternal twins, brother Kinch and twin sister Archee, 2. "Four kids keeps us on our toes, but we wouldn't have it any other way," Zach says. They dream of one day being the grandparents who have ultimate freedom and abundance to enjoy their retirement to the fullest.
And he is committed to helping his clients work toward the same.
Because while providing customized financial advice and comprehensive wealth management is what Zach does, building a personal connection with each of his clients, their families, and the legacy of their retirement is who he is.
Zach passed the Series 6, 63 and 65 securities exams and holds insurance licenses in multiple states. He earned his Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC®) designation from the College of Financial Planning, as well as the Life and Annuity Certified Professional (LACP) designation. Zach is a qualifying member of the Million Dollar Round Table's (MDRT) Top of the Table and a member of the Forum 400. He was also awarded the prestigious Four Under Forty award from the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors (NAIFA) where he was selected from advisors nationwide.
“Four Under Forty” is an annual award given by NAIFA. Nominees must be a NAIFA member in good standing and 40 years of age or younger to be eligible to be nominated. The winners of this award are chosen by the editorial team of NAIFA’s magazine, “Advisor Today.” This award is not representative of any one client’s experience and is not indicative of future performance. Million Dollar Round Table (“MDRT”) is a membership organization. Qualifying criteria for membership include attaining specified levels of commissions earned, premium paid or income earned on the sale of insurance and other financial products. The MDRT membership requires the payment of annual dues, compliance with ethical standards, and to be in good standing with an MDRT-approved professional association. There are 3 levels of membership, which include standard membership, Court of the Table and Top of the Table. The MDRT logo and/or trademarks are property of their respective owners and no endorsement of Zach Gray or Rooted Wealth Advisors is stated or implied. The Forum 400 is a paid membership organization.