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My Personal Story

Growing up as a youngster in the suburbs of Chicago, I never really gave money much thought unless I wanted to buy the latest SuperMan comic book or a fresh package of baseball cards.  You remember the old Topps baseball cards don't you??  The ones with the flat, rectangular piece of bubble gum that was as hard as a piece of steel.  I can still remember the distinctive smell when I opened the package.  It was like heaven to a young boy in the 60's!!

Anyway, when I was an adolescent, in high school and even college, I was more interested in sports, the opposite sex and studying for classes than thinking about or studying money or financial concepts.  Sure, I bagged groceries at the local supermarket in high school, I cut lawns for money during the summer and had my share of part-time jobs painting and working in warehouses and factories.  But these random acts of work and entrepreneurial activity were usually designed for specific short-term financial goals like a new bicycle, a motorcycle, a used car or a special trip during the summer.

It wasn't until I attended Graduate School in Fort Worth at Texas Christian University that I started to systematically acquire and digest knowledge about accounting, taxes, investments, marketing and personal finance.  Investing two years of extra education in the Masters of Business Administration program at TCU immersed me in an environment that was rich in business ideas and sparked a fascination with wealth that has continued for the last 40 years.

Studying and reading books and listening to professors was certainly interesting but during my time at TCU I had a rather unique opportunity to take this knowledge about money, taxes, financial markets and investments and move it to a whole different level.  The business school at TCU is unique because the academic curriculum included a very special class.  A select group of MBA students was chosen each year to manage a real, live, $1.3 Million dollar investment fund.  That's right, managing and reporting on $1.3 Million of real money . . . and that was a lot of money back in the late 1970's!!

To make things even better, we got academic credit for our work.  We were supervised by a faculty finance professor who was always there for support and guidance, but all of the decisions were ours.  The fund was called the Educational Investment Fund and was originally set up by a wealthy entrepreneur named William Conner who started a small eye care company back in the 1940's.  You may have heard of them, especially if you wear contact lenses.  The company's name was Alcon Laboratories.  It now has revenue of more than $10 Billion and is a major subsidiary of Bausch and Lomb.  I'm truly grateful that part of my learning experience at TCU and a major turning point in my life was made possible by the generosity and unique foresight of Mr. Conner.

After my graduate school years it only took me a couple of years out in the workforce to figure out that I was pretty much "unemployable".  Please don't misunderstand, that doesn't mean I was "UNemployed", I was just simply "unemployable".  That means that I didn't quite fit into the big corporate environment that I originally started out in.

 

I guess I was too independent minded and entrepreneurial.  Instead, I wanted to set my own course, make my own decisions and build my own organization.  I didn't want to sit in a "cubicle" in a big office building working for a large bureaucratic company for the next 40 years.

By this time, I had passed the CPA exam, so at the tender age of 24, I struck out on my own and began working with clients on tax, accounting and financial projects trying to build my own CPA practice.  A few years later, my wife Amy and I moved to the St. Louis area for a job opportunity that she had, so I started all over again acquiring and working with clients in the tax, accounting and financial field.  Slowly but surely things grew and my practice developed into a unique community of like minded clients.

My areas of expertise have changed over the years and I've transformed myself and my practice more than a few times to where it is today, but the core values of trust, integrity, hard work, continuous learning and being grateful have stuck with me through out the years.

Today, our practice serves individual clients in St. Louis and across the U.S. in all of the important areas of their family wealth.  These include taxation, business accounting, investing, retirement and social security optimization, college planning and funding and estate planning.

My driving passion and purpose in life is to guide and assist others through the complicated and confusing world of money.  Our world today is moving faster and faster and becoming more and more complicated.  I believe that it's critical for people to live confidently and courageously and I don't believe we can do that unless we have a firm handle on our family wealth situation.

My lovely wife Amy is a senior technical executive with Bank of America and sings frequently with various choirs as well as at our local church.  She works out regularly at our local LifeTime Fitness health club and competes occasionally in 5K running races.  Sometimes she even comes home with a medal for finishing at the top of her age group.

My only son, Greg, just completed a six-year enlistment in the Air Force and was deployed multiple times overseas to the Middle East.  He now lives in Asheville, North Carolina where he is working on a college degree in brewing, distillation and fermentation.  That's right, he would like to become a BrewMaster somewhere.

 

When I'm not working with clients on their money plans, I enjoy brewing beer and judging in local beer competitions. During my time away from the office, I also devote a large chunk of my time to training and competing in triathlon and running events.  Competing in 20 - 30 running events (5K's, 10K's and half-marathons) and 20 plus triathlon events each year (including the occasional Full IronMan race) gives me a big reason for sticking with my training regimen. When you get older, it gets tougher to maintain your strength and fitness level so having a series of "really big goals" during the year helps to keep me on track.  I'm also a big baseball fan and root primarily for the St. Louis Cardinals.

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