B&E alum, expert in wealth management makes climb of a lifetime
After a rigorous climb, at 6:00 a.m. on January 23, West Virginia University College of Business and Economics alumnus Jay Mechling reached the top of Mount Kilimanjaro with his “Let’s Go” flag in hand.
“I certainly felt accomplished. The tagline as I was sending pictures or e-mails back to folks after I did it was ‘eight days, 19,341 feet, zero showers and two sore knees,’ he said. “That is how I felt after accomplishing that. I did feel a great sense of accomplishment, and it made me want to go and do more things like that. Just stretch myself.”
The 1982 accounting graduate is a senior vice president of wealth management for UBS Financial Services, Inc., with the Mechling Group in Austin, Texas. Along with his appetite for hiking and climbing, he clearly has an affinity for finance and accounting.
“I had been in general studies, chemistry, biology and maybe one other major in my first two years of college. First semester junior year, I went back to business and took my first accounting classes. Immediately, I knew. I just had a gift in accounting. It just came so naturally that I just decided I should use that part of my brain for something good,” Mechling said.
But rather than taking the natural certified public accounting route, Mechling discovered his instincts lead him to finance and wealth management.
“I pretty much knew in my senior year in college. A guest speaker came into my finance class and he was working for Dean Witter in Pittsburgh, and he came to talk about what this industry is about. A light went off, and it was like ‘That’s what I need to do.’ I don’t need to be an accountant. I need to be on the finance side and manage money for individuals and corporations and high net worth families,” he said. “I knew at that point in time, and that’s where I became focused on that. All of my energy went into moving toward this industry from that point forward.”
And now with a 32-year career in the field, 25 years at Morgan Stanley and seven with UBS, Mechling affirms he made the right decision, confirmed by the durable client relationships he has built throughout his robust career.
“Most of what I do is client relationship and asset allocation work. Basically helping people that have accumulated wealth manage for everything that is going on in their lives,” he said. “And my favorite part is the relationship side. I have really built some wonderful, long-term relationships while I’ve been in this business with clients. I become part of their family, and they become part of mine over time. It’s been a great experience to build relationships.”
Mechling hails from Wellsburg, West Virginia, and he took off for Texas after graduation. Being in Austin for more than three decades, he says he does get an ache for the Mountain State.
“I certainly miss the people. I miss the leaves changing in the fall and the mountains in that area,” he said. “Being a Mountaineer is a sense of pride for me because the people that come from West Virginia tend be hardworking, honest, really good people.”
His outdoorsy side and yearning for the mountains lead him to his penchant for hiking and climbing endeavors.
“I got into [mountain climbing] because the closest thing to West Virginia when you’re in Texas and what is most similar to the hills and mountains of West Virginia is Colorado, and so for 20 of the last 21 summers I have gone to Colorado to do some hiking,” Mechling stated. “And this trip, this climb of Mt. Kilimanjaro, was kind of an extension. The tallest mountains in Colorado are 14,000 to 15,000, feet, so this was an extension of that hiking. I fell in love with hiking in Colorado every summer.”
When he’s not wearing his wealth management hat or mountain climbing, he also likes to run, golf, and most importantly spend time with his family, especially his 21-year-old daughter, Morgan.
While he might not make it back to Mountaineer country as often as he would like, he credits a lot of his success to the state, WVU and B&E.
“I’ve had numerous mentors that I’ve been lucky enough to work with. Actually, there was a professor that just retired last year, Dr. [Adolph] Neidermeyer,” he said. “He truly changed my life. He made me become more accountable to myself and other people by having him for a couple accounting courses. He definitely helped make me a better person.”
“Without my strong accounting and finance background, I may have been able to get a job without those in this industry, but I would never have been able to have a 32-year career in this industry without the preparation I did while in B&E,” he said. “It formed a foundation for me to go on to Wharton where I got the CIMA designation after a couple of years of study. It laid the groundwork or foundation for my career.”