When I thought about my future career, I knew that I liked working with different people and I knew that I wanted to do something meaningful. With those two things in mind, my first career thoughts were about… healthcare.
I started working in the field and even earned a Master’s degree in Health Policy & Management, but continued to feel the pull of both finance and working with individual people.
At that time the whole notion of a comprehensive, fee-only financial advisor did not exist, so I detoured to different positions with a couple of large banks, and, during a maternity leave, I satisfied my desire to work with people by founding and running a pre-school in Odessa, Texas (from “Friday Night Lights” fame).
Eventually, I learned about a new type of financial advisor that was just coming into existence. I realized immediately that the career of comprehensive, fee-only planning would be my calling. I jumped in early and enthusiastically.
While juggling raising a family and running the preschool, I studied for and took both the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) and Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) exams. The school outlasted my tenure in Texas and was a beautiful place for our children and for our community. I think that’s where I solidified my entrepreneurial leanings.
After moving to Wisconsin, with certifications in hand, I worked briefly for an independent financial planner. It didn’t take long for me to formalize my own notions of financial advice; in 1992, I started this firm.
Despite my extensive training in financial planning, my prior life and work experiences have been crucial in helping me understand how life ebbs and flows for each of us and how important it is to keep a clear vision of what is meaningful and what you really care about.
From the start, my vision has been to provide individual advice and to take the worry out of personal finance for my clients. Our work is based on truly understanding each client’s unique situation, including what stage of life they are in (using a “life cycle theory” of investing), their resources and, importantly, their hopes for the future (this is all part of “comprehensive planning”).
A fundamental value to me is that we be worthy of our clients’ trust. To me that means high integrity and transparency in our relationships, impeccable reliability in our work, and cutting edge excellence in our advice.
I am pleased to be considered one of the pioneers of the field, but even more so that we have been early adopters at several fundamental turning points (including the use of asset class investing, or index mutual funds, and more recently, the adoption of a life cycle investing point of view). I am proud that we continue to help shape the industry for the benefit of clients everywhere, even as we go about the business of focusing on our own clients.