Mike Sosnowski’s first hands-on experience with free enterprise came in the form of a Jersey Shore hot dog cart.
Long before the improbable rise of Snooki and The Situation, Sosnowski spent summers in Seaside Heights, where he and his cousins helped their Grandma Jeannie satisfy the lunch cravings of value-seeking beachcombers.
“We used to go to a Sam’s or Costco and buy everything in bulk – hot dogs, soda, chips,” Sosnowski remembers. “You’d mark it up a little bit and see what profits you have from there. It was a pretty good bargain for beachgoers.”
Hot dogs with all the fixings were $1. Chips and sodas were 50 cents. Grandma Jeannie typically would stay on the beach from about 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. before family members helped her pack up.
Profits fluctuated depending on Sosnowski’s role that particular afternoon. “I usually ate more hot dogs than I sold,” he joked.
Some three decades later, Sosnowski is putting his financial acumen to use as a director for Transamerica’s Advanced Markets Group. Though he didn’t plan on a career in financial services, the foundation was always there.
His step-dad traded junk bonds as a Wall Street broker, and his mom worked as an administrative assistant at Goldman Sachs. In addition to his experience with the hot dog cart, Sosnowski was drawn to the economic aspect of collecting sports cards.
“It’s like value investing,” he said. “You’re trying to find rookies and pay a discount for them, hoping one of them might shoot up in value.”
As a lifelong Yankees fan, Sosnowski gravitated toward baseball cards but also branched out to basketball, hockey, and football cards. Among his most valuable rookie cards are NHL great Mario Lemieux and NBA legends Larry Bird and Magic Johnson, who appear on the same card with fellow Hall of Fame inductee Julius Erving, aka Dr. J.
“Back then, collecting wasn’t too expensive,” Sosnowski said. “You could use your allowance and see who you get. You might get that one superstar or rookie card. It comes down to economics: supply and demand.”
It’s been quite a trip from trading cards to his role with the Advanced Markets Group.
Active in sports growing up, Sosnowski earned his bachelor’s degree in exercise and sports science from Colorado State University, but took a job as a life insurance underwriter with ING. He later moved to Jackson National Life variable annuities sales desk before jumping to the annuities desk at Transamerica in 2008.
Sosnowski joined Advanced Markets in 2012 and has since earned his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®, Chartered Financial Consultant®, Chartered Life Underwriter®, and Retirement Income Certified Professional® designations. No small feat under any circumstances, but even more impressive when juggling a work and family schedule. Sosnowski and his wife, Tracey, have an 11-year-old daughter, Sydney, and 6-year-old son, Matthew.
“Anybody who’s looking to get a designation, do that before you get married and have kids, especially with the CFP,” Sosnowski says. “I did the opposite.”
Whether he’s working with colleagues at Transamerica or speaking to financial professionals, Sosnowski tries to inject a sense of humor. It’s an important quality when discussing the intricacies of annuity titling, Social Security filing strategies, and IRA distribution planning.
“You can usually tell when things are dry because people start falling asleep in the front row,” he said. “I try to keep it light and throw in personal stories that are humorous to keep everybody’s attention. We put a lot of preparation into a presentation. At the end, if the reaction is positive, it’s one of the greatest feelings in the world. It feels like a job well-done.”
Kind of like a lucrative day at the beach with Grandma Jeannie.
The Advanced Markets Group has dozens of great resources that are often featured on New Age of Advice. Check back for more profiles on members of the team in the coming weeks.
Director of Advanced Markets
Whether they’re discussing taxation of annuities, Social Security claiming strategies, or controlling the distribution of retirement assets, the eight members of Transamerica’s Advanced Markets Group have the knowledge and experience to help financial professionals deliver the best service to their clients.
Between them, they hold 13 CFP®, CLU®, and ChFC® certifications, and three law degrees, but we want you to get to know the people behind the credentials.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board’s initial and ongoing certification requirements.
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