Lifelong Ponte Vedra resident Ian Aguilar is the new president of the Ponte Vedra Rotary Club
Tell us a little about your business and your professional career.
I run my own fee-only financial planning firm alongside my partner Scott Snider called Mellen Money Management. We gear our practice towards having a specialty in college planning, which typically lends our clients to being a little younger than with most other planning firms, which are geared mostly towards retirement clients. We do a lot of that as well, but our niche resides around helping people deal with college expenses while not sacrificing other financial goals, such as retirement.
I truly enjoy getting to learn people’s stories and helping them to achieve their life goals through our expertise. I’ve been a Certified Financial Planner for four years and have been in the industry since I got out of college 10 years ago.
What advice would you give young people looking to pursue a career in your line of work?
Two lessons that I’ve learned among the many that stick out to me:
Make sure to surround yourself with the right people. Sure, the business details matter, but who you work with and who you learn from will shape you and the way you think for many years to come. I was fortunate enough to come into this business with a great mentor and team right here in Ponte Vedra working alongside Chris Aitken and his team (currently at UBS), who are known as some of the top advisors in the country for the ultra-high net-worth space.
Never stop learning and keep grinding. As great as my team was, I had learned so much about our industry and gained knowledge from constantly reading about how to grow your own business that I eventually had to scratch my entrepreneurial itch and branch out on my own away from the big banks and wirehouses and create something more custom to my vision. Whether it’s on how to better run my own business or if its continuing to educate myself on the technical side of things, I find myself constantly learning in order to stay sharp, and I think it’s a necessity for younger people who want to pursue a job in my line of work.
What do you like best about involvement in Rotary?
The principal motto of Rotary says, “Service above self.” I always grew up in a household were I was taught to help those who could not help themselves, yet it’s always been a struggle to find an organization that allowed me to feel as if I was making enough of an impact on helping those around me. Rotary has provided me with that avenue of being able to make a substantial difference to those not only here in Ponte Vedra, but also the rest of Northeast Florida, and even the world. The power of Rotary when you see it at full strength is truly quite remarkable. Case and point: the near eradication of polio is in a large part thanks to Rotary.
Looking at the year ahead, what activities are being planned by the club?
I definitely have a different answer now than what would’ve been my answer ahead of all of the mess generated by the pandemic. Before all of this, there was a plan in place to create a more unique and fun atmosphere to the Rotary Club of Ponte Vedra aka Nocatee. We’ve done a great job of loosening the reins on some of your more traditional Rotary clubs elsewhere in the U.S., but my goal was and still is to improve the member experience to attract a more diverse group to our club, including parents with growing families all the way to retirees living throughout the area. Our Marquee event this year was meant to be a huge duck race on Nov. 8 where we were going to dump a whole load of rubber ducks off the Palm Valley bridge into the Intracoastal and watch them from the outdoor area at Palm Valley Outdoors. This was an event we were going to have as a fundraiser for the Learn to Read organization here in St. Johns County. A lot of if that happens or not is dependent now on how COVID progresses, but if we can’t do it then we will surely make up for it in other ways.
How long have you been a Ponte Vedra resident?
I’ve been fortunate enough to live here basically my entire life. My mother and father moved down here when I was 3 months old from New York and outside of a few stints in other cities I’ve been here ever since. My mother, Gina, is a swim coach who now currently works at Bolles High School, and my father, Jorge, owns his own medical practice down in Jacksonville Beach. They still live in the same house that I grew up in over in Salt Creek in Sawgrass. I was blessed to experience the quality of education in this area, K-12, and I wanted to make sure my kids were able to experience the same.
What do you like best about residing in this community?
There are endless amounts of great things in Ponte Vedra, but to me the best thing about this place is the people. I don’t know if it’s the beaches or the schools that bring in the right people, but it seems to have an innate ability to attract the best. I’m a little biased because my family and my wife’s family live here in town, and all of my closest friends either still live here or grew up with me here, but it seems really easy to find quality people in this town, and one of the great things about Rotary is that it’s a concentrated group of some the best people I know all trying to do good to strengthen the community even more.
How do you like to spend your free time?
As an owner of my own business, a president of a vibrant Rotary club, and having a one-year-old girl and expecting a boy here in September, I’m typically short on free time, but I’m a huge football fan. I played college football at Colgate University and grew up a Gators and big time Jaguars fan. Typically, on the weekend during football season you can find me unwinding by watching a couple games. Hopefully, this year’s football season goes on as planned or else I’ll be out of luck. I also volunteer my time on the board of our local Northeast Florida chapter of the Financial Planning Association as my way to give back to my profession and continue to push it forward.