When he was at Dalewood Middle School more than 20 years ago, Roland McIntyre III remembers a financial advisor coming to his classroom one day to talk about investments.
The algebra teacher at the school had involved students in a game based on the stock market, and Roland, then an impressionable middle schooler, was entralled by the well-dressed visitor. He was "suited and booted" McIntyre recalls.
McIntyre said the stock market game immediately sparked his interest in personal finance.
"After that, I started watching CNBC and getting more excited," he explains. "In college I majored in accounting."
Today, McIntyre is founder of Mountaintop Wealth, a financial planning company headquartered in the business incubator on Cherokee Boulevard. The U.S. Air Force veteran sees himself as a bridge-builder to mid-career, middle class clients who are willing to learn about wealth building.
"I want to be part of a movement to help people with their financial education," says McIntyre. "Financial growth, that's the movement I'm a part of."
McIntyre, a 36-year-old husband and father, says the name of his company does not derive from Chattanooga terrain but from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s last speech, often called: "I've Been to the Mountaintop."
After graduating from Brainerd High School, McIntyre attended Tennessee State University in Nashville and later served two years in the U.S. Air Force working in materials management.
After college he applied for a job at a bank but was told he lacked sales experience, and so he took a job selling Comcast cable packages door to door. It was challenging work but it gave him a foundation in the art of selling and surviving, he says.
He says he often attracted attention walking through rural and suburban areas.
"The territories I was in, there weren't many people who looked like me," McIntyre explains. "They (residents) were wondering, 'Who was that guy walking down the street.'"
Commitment to his family kept him on task, he says. He told himself, "I have a wife. I have a kid. I have to do what I have to do."
After his stint at Comcast, McIntyre went to work for AIG, an insurance and financial services company where he worked his way up. By 2021, he was a financial advisor with the AIG office here. COVID, and the advent of an independent, work-at-home culture, convinced him that he had the skills to set out on his own, he says.
In recent months he has set about building his own fee-only financial planning business. He says most of his customers are professionals -- such as teachers and health-care workers -- who are trying to build long-term retirement savings.
McIntyre also counsels clients on short-term savings, college savings and insurance needs.
"I'm selling opportunity and freedom," he explains.
About Roland McIntyre III
* Age: 36
* Home: Chattanooga
* Education: Brainerd High School, Tennessee State University
* Family: Wife Rakesha, son, Roland McIntyre IV, 13
* Hobbies: Movie night, volunteering