I started in the financial services industry in 1981. At that time, financial planning was just emerging as a discipline. Often, people didn’t know what I meant by “financial planning”. Fortunately, this era was also when computers became available to practitioners like me. I’d learned to do a plan with a financial calculator but a computer program made it so much easier.
My father had been in the life insurance business since 1945. He invited me to join his practice. He specialized in succession planning for business owners. He called it “creating a business will.” In the 1980s, the Inheritance Tax hit people we wouldn’t consider wealthy today. Helping people plan to mitigate the impact of the tax on their estates was the other focus of my dad’s practice.
Following him, I started working with small businesses. I learned how to setup nonqualified plans (pensions, profit-sharing, and KEOGH plans). I showed business owners how to use these plans to create tax deductible retirement savings.
In 1983, I started doing financial planning seminars at libraries. I taught folks how to reduce taxes, budget, set goals, and invest to pursue goals.
In 1988, after trying some different ventures, I focused on financial planning, and fee-based money management as my primary practice. That’s the year I received my Certified Financial Planner® designation. I haven’t changed my focus since then.
In 2018, I gave up my solo practice and merged with Pelorus Financial Group. I’m still working independently full-time, yet I enjoy some benefits in being part of the Pelorus family; Pelorus can provide continuity to my clients for years to come.
My Community Work
In 1992, after my father’s death, I became president of the St. Francis Foundation. The Foundation owns the Villa Serena. The Villa is an affordable housing facility in Mayfield Hts. next to Hillcrest Hospital. The Villa is a wonderful place to live and in a convenient location. We provide a home to about 250 financially challenged seniors.
In the late 1990s, a Christian high school our family, and the families of many of our friends, depended upon decided to close its doors. I was asked to join a group of fathers to look into the possibility of opening a new Christian high school. That group of dads became the board of Cornerstone Christian Academy. I served as a founding board member and the original treasurer for several years.
In 2003, a friend of mine who had a ministry to Ukraine, asked me if I’d like to help him out. I went to Kiev that fall, to teach pastors in the Unregistered Pentecostal denomination. The next year, he was invited to teach pastors in Kakamega, Kenya. I accompanied him. The Kenyan trip resulted in us founding a non-profit international Non-Governmental Organization (NGO). We called it Global Assistance Partners, Inc., or GAP for short. Besides training pastors, we supported 85 orphans, supported widows whose husbands died of AIDS, and we built a clinic. In 2019, my friend and I decided retire from that work. We closed GAP and turned the clinic over to the Kenyan Assemblies of God.
My Advocacy Work
In 1988, I had a mentor who encouraged me to “give back to the community” by volunteering. Randomly, he suggested COSE, the Council of Small Enterprises-the small business division of the Cleveland chamber of commerce. I looked in the COSE magazine, saw they had an Advocacy Committee and attended the next meeting.
It turned out that COSE had a very robust approach to small business advocacy. The committee carefully reviewed issues deemed to affect small business, bringing in experts who could explain the pros and cons of those issues. It focused on making its volunteer members into experts on the issues so those members could speak authoritatively to elected officials. After a few years on the committee, I thought I was pretty good.
As I must have been. In 1995, I was elected as a delegate to the Whitehouse Conference on Small Business. In 1996, COSE asked me to represent it on the Ohio Small Business Council, the small business division of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. In 1999, I became a COSE Board of Directors member. In 2002, I joined the board of the Ohio Chamber of Commerce. In 2003, COSE asked me to serve on the board of the National Small Business Association (NSBA). For NSBA, I chaired the Taxation Committee for a few years. After that, I chaired the Healthcare Committee.
In these roles I was meeting with state representatives, state senators, members of various state agencies, and the governor to advocate for lower taxes and less regulation for small businesses in Ohio. We tried to defeat legislation that we believed would kill small business jobs. I testified before the Ohio House and the Senate often. As I gained experience, in D.C., I met with members of Congress and senators to discuss the same kinds of issues. I had the opportunity to testify before Congress for the elimination of the estate tax.
In 2008, I worked with COSE to help defeat a proposed employment mandate for Ohio.
I continued to serve on the Ohio Chamber of Commerce board until 2015.