Edward Jones financial advisor Ty Robinson has come up with an unusual way to promote his business: at a coffee club that meets the first Friday of every month, Jones holds a low-key meeting in his office, serving up financial advice along with coffee and snacks.

The meetings have taken place for the last three years at 8 a.m. at his office at his Foxmoor Plaza office. For more information and to reserve a spot at the meeting on Friday, March 6, call 609-448-0004.

Robinson says he has about 8 to 12 people attending each gathering. “They can get an update on current market events and probably one or two really good ideas for growing or protecting their assets along with some really nice networking with other attendees,” he says.

The advice is usually culled from Edward Jones financial experts. In the most recent edition, investment strategist Kate Warne, reacting to the global drop in oil prices, pondered how investors should respond:

“Rebounding global growth could calm the storms and reverse some of these recent trends — potentially leading to rising oil prices, higher long-term interest rates and outperforming international stocks. Don’t reduce your international investments because they’ve lagged.

“Instead, you may need to consider adding broad-based international equity investments to return to the asset allocation that’s appropriate for you. When international stocks have lagged behind U.S. stocks for 10 years (as they currently have), they’ve gone on to outperform U.S. equities over the next decade. And we think broad-based foreign developed-market stocks are more attractively valued than U.S. stocks, giving them the potential to catch up when international growth improves.

Energy stocks dropped as oil prices fell, so add them to your stock portfolio if appropriate. But also consider including the stocks of companies that use energy and may benefit from rising consumer spending, especially consumer staples companies.”

Robinson says his clients have been loving the low gas prices at the pump, but that they have had a negative effect on many investment portfolios.

“It’s great but if you own oil or any type of natural gas, or anything in that sector, you may not be so happy,” he says. “Is it good? Is it bad? We’ll talk about that in general terms. We’ll never give specific advice, because each individual’s situation is different, but we will give a general synopsis of what’s happening.”

While such general financial overviews are readily available from financial publications or the Internet, Robinson also offers a “free financial review” for coffee club attendees. (Of course, the review is a chance for Robinson to win over new clients.) Robinson says the meetings are not a sales pitch and there is no selling during the meetings. Networking and socialization is a big part of the appeal. “I think some people have actually become friends with each other because of the club and meet outside of here,” Robinson says.

Robinson enjoys running the club because it gives him a chance to play the role of a teacher. “Pretty much my whole life I wanted to be a teacher,” he says. Robinson grew up in Trenton, where his father was a substitute teacher and his mother was a licensed practical nurse. When he went to college at Rider University, he enrolled as an education major with intentions of becoming an elementary school teacher. But alongside his desire to teach was a strong entrepreneurial streak.

“I always had a mindset that I wanted to be my own boss,” Robinson says. “I was always trying to get into managerial positions. In college I worked at pharmacies as an assistant manager, and like every kid I ran my own paper route.” About halfway through college, Robinson realized that he need not choose between being a businessman and an educator: he could always do both, or go into business and switch to education later in life.

He switched his major to communications with a concentration in business halfway through his college career, and hasn’t looked back. Since then, he has had a foot in both fields. After graduating from Rider, Robinson managed a pharmacy until joining Edward Jones in 2008. Until last year, he was president of the New Jersey affiliate of the Granville Academy, an after-school program. He currently teaches non-credit courses at Mercer County College on balancing budgets and investing in the stock market. “It’s probably to my advantage to be able to do business and still be able to teach,” he says.

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