James Traylor
James Traylor33

President,
Upstate Special Needs Planning

Fast Facts

  • Prepares four- and five-course dinners on weekends.
  • When he and his wife traveled to South Korea, they ate a "still-moving" octopus.
  • Worked on a sheep farm in New Zealand after college.

Although he says that it happened "completely by accident," James Traylor seems to have been destined to become an adviser serving special needs families. Having grown up with a sister with learning and mental health challenges, the New York City native understood firsthand the complexities of meeting the present and future needs of a child with special needs.

After college, he joined an insurance-owned brokerage firm because it offered to pay for his licenses, but quickly discovered that he was "probably the worst insurance agent of all time." To attract and serve clients who wouldn't otherwise deal with a young adviser, Mr. Traylor found he could share his special needs expertise through a financial planning firm he formed in 2009. He started a separate special needs consulting firm four years ago.

"When clients engage the consulting firm, they sign an agreement that we will not be providing specific investment recommendations," he said, noting that most consulting clients are referred by law firms, CPA firms and other financial advisers.

Mr. Traylor's specialty, however, is more of a calling than a market niche. He serves as the nonpaid chairman of the New York State Development Disabilities Planning Council, a state agency, and donates hundreds of hours of pro bono services each year to the disabled community in Rochester. In addition, his firm's five female staff members, who all have family members with disabilities, serve as board members for charities for the disabled.

"The alpha and beta of my job are easy, but if we make one little slip-up in advice, a person can lose their housing and health care," he said.

—Evan Cooper

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