Our Company Story

Paula H. Hogan CFP®, CFA started our firm in 1992 with a vision of the ideal advisory relationship: personal, professional, and deeply respectful of the client’s hopes and dreams. Since then we have evolved into a firm known nationally for both thought-leadership and our Midwestern roots and values.

Key moments.

1992 – Paula opens the firm as a sole proprietor. At that time, taking a comprehensive approach, using low-cost index funds, and operating within a fee-only business model were distinguishing features in a financial planning industry just beginning to distinguish itself from traditional sales-driven investment advice.

2003 – Economists Zvi Bodie, with whom Paula has frequently shared the podium, and Robert Merton publish a pair of articles in the Financial Analysts Journal that changed the direction of our firm and opened up our wide collaboration with academics.

2012 – Paula publishes “A Look From the Outside In” in the Financial Planning Journal, laying out our particular view of financial planning and in particular how we combine academic excellence with concierge-like personal attention and service.

 

2016 – A multi-year initiative to gradually shift from a sole-proprietor shop to a multi-advisor firm becomes more visible to the outside world.

2017 – Clint Wondra CFP®, CPA/PFS becomes a shareholder.

About our past.

Like most advisory firms in existence today, we started as a sole proprietorship. Paula opened the firm in 1992 when fee-only comprehensive advising was in its infancy. Paula was an early adopter of the fee-only business model, reflecting the idea that advisers should be paid by the clients they serve, not commission-income from product sales.

She was also an early adopter of comprehensive financial planning, the idea that you can’t advise a person on their finances without looking at their whole financial picture including most importantly their hopes and dreams, and personal values and history.

Since the early days of our firm, we have always been distinct in bringing an academic approach to investment management and specifically the University of Chicago school of thinking that says in essence that markets works, that investment return is related to risk, and that the best way to invest in the market is to buy generic slices of the whole market, not individual securities.

Some might say that our early success came from our regular early adoption of consumer-friendly trends paired with cutting edge  investment management. And indeed operating in a consistently smart and consumer-favorable manner is a distinctive feature in the financial services industry. However, our clients are more likely to report that it’s been the personal and reliable nature of our services that has been the main contributor to our early success.

Where we are today.

Since these early days or our firm, we have evolved into an advisory firm with several advisors and a full administrative staff. The founding value of pairing personal service with cutting edge planning ideas remains in place but has developed further. We are national thought-leaders in strategies for creating lifetime income in retirement (the “decumulation” stage of portfolio management) and we delve deeply into how our clients make decisions about their money in order to understand and anticipate their needs. Tailoring financial planning strategies to each life stage is fundamental to excellent planning, as is anticipating subsequent life stages and the associated planning imperatives.

We have maintained and expanded the focus on comprehensive planning, for example, by looking at planning strategies through the lens of our clients’ ever evolving career plans and family dynamics, optimal income tax and estate planning, smart insurance planning, and optimized Social Security claiming strategies. There is hardly any part of financial planning where savvy tax and insurance planning isn’t fundamental to good results. Because financial planning at its heart interdisciplinary, we work hard to make sure our advisory team includes specialized expertise in several different areas in addition, of course, to deep experience and expertise in financial planning.

Encouraging family conversation and coordinating communication among our clients’ other advisors is part of our daily work. Because of the intimate long-term nature of our client relationships, it is not unusual for us to be drawn into major life decisions including for example, wedding plans for adult children, whether to rent or buy the next home, career planning, identifying an appropriate retirement community, helping adult children care for an aging parent, rebounding from divorce or widowhood or other personal loss, and/or deciding when to retire or to change careers or sell a business or move to a new residence. Being a helpful advocate, information resource, and sounding board at these important transition points in our clients’ personal lives is central to our work.

Members of our team are selected not just for professional experience, expertise, and curiosity but also for their discretion, respect for their fellow human-beings, courtesy, attention to detail, and kindness. We believe that financial planning is both science and art, every day.

What it means for you.

Our current service offering comes directly from this company history and culture. For clients, it means expert, personal service tailored to your particular preferences and financial life stage. It means having a financial home.