Joe Stapleton ’06 BSBA (Finance and Entrepreneurship)
For Joe Stapleton, the secrets to success in business and life are threefold: work hard, build positive relationships and take time to recharge. By following those simple rules, this entrepreneur and money manager has built a thriving business, earned a seat on numerous boards and still makes time to unwind daily.
“You need a ‘namaste mentality’,” Stapleton says of doing it all. “There’s no substitute for hard work but, in business, we get so stressed out. I do something active every day—it provides balance in my life.”
His Zen attitude, optimistic outlook and extraordinary work ethic have served him well, taking him from owner of his family’s bar, The Bashful Bandit, as an undergraduate in the Eller College—to co-founder and president of a wealth management firm today.
“I was 19 years old with a liquor license in my name,” recalls Stapleton of his early endeavor in Tucson—a task he undertook to help his father transition into retirement. “It was a really unique experience.”
As a college student, Stapleton brought a fresh perspective and energy to running the bar. He used skills he learned in the classroom—particularly from his marketing courses—to expand its clientele, which typically leaned toward a biker crowd.
“We were one of the first businesses to be on Facebook with sponsored ads,” Stapleton says. “I also used a grassroots approach, working with my friends as promoters.”
By age 21, he had initiated a college night on Tuesdays and tripled sales within three months. “Talk about peaking early in life,” Stapleton says. “It was a privilege, and I didn’t take that lightly.”
His bar gig lasted until 2008, at which time he sold the business to fellow Wildcats, who still own it today. As for Stapleton, he returned to his roots in finance—a decision that was solidified during a prior internship. And the transition from the bar to wealth management wasn’t as much of a shift as it might seem. Says Stapleton: “At the end of the day both are about managing people, emotions and a business.”
He worked as a financial advisor for several years before co-founding Spinnaker Investment Group in Newport Beach, California, in 2016. The firm helps clients with their financial, estate, business and investment planning—and they do it well. In less than three years, Stapleton and his colleagues have built a base of about 300 clients and manage nearly $300 million.
“We have a small, family-run vibe,” says Stapleton. “Our reputation within the community is that we do the right thing for our clients. That means so much—I’m really proud of what we’ve been able to accomplish.”
Building rapport with his clients and community is integral to Stapleton’s approach, and he’s reminded of it every day. On his desk sits a framed message from a fortune cookie he cracked open about five years ago. It reads: “Take no risks with your reputation.”
The fortune, combined with a harrowing experience at the Boston Marathon in 2013, heightened Stapleton’s sense of altruism. He was four minutes from the finish line when the bombs went off.
“I was involved in social issues before then, but I got more engaged after that,” he says. “Ultimately, when I’m no longer here, I want people to remember me for the good things I did in my community.”
Today, Stapleton serves on 15 boards in Orange County, including the OCCats, an extension of the UA Alumni Association.
“As alumni, our degrees become more valuable each year the college continues to grow and get recognition,” he says. “Everyone I went to Eller with has turned into someone incredible in their field. They challenge and inspire me to be successful and make a difference.”