- What path led you to wealth management?
As a kid I was always into sports and statistics. As a grade-schooler I played sandlot baseball with a group of friends, and I voluntarily tracked each kid’s batting average, home runs, earned run average, etc. I did the same thing for all the other sports I played growing up. Analyzing the game afterward was almost as much fun for me as playing it. That love of statistics led me to start my career in accounting at Arthur Andersen in 1991, but I quickly realized that using numbers to tell a story and helping people with their personal financial challenges was far more gratifying to me. Wealth management was a place where I could do just that, and I was fortunate that Andersen offered me an opportunity to switch paths and begin advising families.
- What most excites you about your work?
The fact that both our clients’ lives and the financial world is constantly changing. While we have a very thoughtful, consistent (almost boring), investment approach, it’s fun to figure out how to apply it and communicate it to clients with all sorts of unique challenges. I always laugh when I read statements about “the new normal” or people who are waiting for the “uncertainty in the markets to subside.” Uncertainty is the norm in investing.
- What has been your most rewarding career experience?
Empathizing with and guiding clients through the 2007-2008 financial crisis and subsequent recovery. It was such a volatile and emotional time for everyone in the markets. It was hard for clients to focus on their long-term goals and the purpose for their wealth when no one was sure if money market accounts were safe or if their financial institution would be the next to fail. But it was really gratifying to sit with clients, get them to unplug from the financial media and talk about what choices they had and what actions were most prudent for their specific situation. We certainly didn’t make forecasts about how fast the markets would recover, but it was great to see our clients who “stayed the course” come out of the crisis with their objectives relatively unscathed.
- What personal accomplishments are you most proud of?
First and foremost, my family. My wife and I have been together since we were in college, and I wouldn’t change a thing about our relationship over the past 25 years (although I’m sure she has a list…). The birth of our son in 2010 has added to that joy. Second, I went through a challenging experience when I was hit by a car while cycling in 2007. There was a period of two years where my doctors weren’t sure if I’d regain the use of my right hand. The regular physical therapy sessions paled in comparison to the frustration of not knowing what physical capabilities I’d have going forward. Persevering through that period of my life, both physically and emotionally, is something I’ll always be proud of.
- Why should families connect wealth and purpose?
There’s a great exchange in the book Alice in Wonderland that I think sums it up perfectly: The Cheshire Cat tells a questioning Alice if you don’t know where you want to go, any road will do. The value of wealth lies not in dollars and cents, but the joy it can bring. Many people are so busy trying to accumulate and protect it that they haven’t really thought about what they want their wealth to do for them. If you don’t know what your wealth is for, then it really doesn’t matter how you manage it or what happens to it.
- Education and accreditations
Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA)
Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst (CAIA)
Series 65 Licence
Bachelors of Business Administration, Accounting, University of Wisconsin-Madison
- What do you like to do outside of work? What’s your favorite way to spend a weekend?
I’m fairly dedicated to physical fitness, so I usually allocate part of my day to the gym or the trail, and chasing my son around the pool or the park. I’m also a diehard college football fan and reserve fall Saturdays for cheering my University of Wisconsin Badgers. Finally, I’m an aficionado of ’80s “hair bands”, and there’s usually some decades-old music reverberating around my house or car.
- What are some of your biggest influences?
Two people come to mind. The first is my late father, who passed away when I was 22. He taught me to take pride in what I do, and the importance of persistence. There were countless times in my childhood, either in school or sports, where he would come home and his first question to me wouldn’t be “Did you win or lose?” or “What grade did you get?”, but rather, “Did you try your best?” That focus on effort and process still resonates with me today. The second is my 4-year old son. It’s refreshing to occasionally try to see the world through his eyes. He has no worries about the future, no prospective fears of what might be. He is just engrossed in the moment. I think we can all benefit from occasionally putting those sorts of “blinders” on.