FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH
|“An Offer I Couldn’t Refuse”||
|By: Ron Brounes||
I have an announcement to make that will most likely catch a great number of you by surprise. I have accepted a position with one of my longstanding clients and effective October 15, 2001, I will be joining a financial planning team at American Express Financial Advisors. (I’m not sure if it is a bigger surprise that I am taking that job or that I have been able to keep it a secret from all but the 500 or so people whose advice I have sought?) In any case, this 54th issue will be the swan song (is that an expression?) for “For What It’s Worth,” at least, under the current Brounes & Associates affiliation (more about that later).
As you can imagine, this has been a very difficult decision for me. (Just a few months ago, deciding what to eat for lunch was among my biggest dilemmas.) Any change is hard, especially a change during this time of uncertainty and market turmoil (more about that later). But the clincher that made the decision so much easier is that I will have the opportunity to work with two consummate professionals, Scott Tiras and Darrell Pennington. Their hard work and efforts have enabled them to build the top American Express financial planning practice in Texas (based on assets under management) and among the top 6 throughout the entire organization of about 12,000 planners. Tiras and Pennington have effectively created a “firm within a firm” (under the American Express umbrella) that includes several experienced analysts and administrative personnel. Like me, they both have advanced business degrees and professional designations.
I have worked on numerous projects with these individuals through the years and have always been extremely impressed by their knowledge of the business, their tremendous work ethic, and, most importantly, their care and concern for their clients (of which I have been one for many years). My position within the group will be “Director of Strategic Marketing.” On a day-to-day basis, I will be working to enhance their already strong marketing efforts and their new client development. I will also be assuming an active role in the financial planning process.
COULD THE TIMING BE ANY WORSE???
While most of my “counselors” have agreed that this is a great opportunity, some expressed concern about the timing of the move, especially given the current market conditions. After all, stocks have been under pressure for the past year and a half and the tragic acts of September 11 brought even greater uncertainty to the economy and the markets. In reality, I believe that the timing is exactly right. I believe the role of the financial planner has never been more important than it is today. Yesterday, there were a lot of do-it-yourselfers out there, individuals who traded the markets on their own, many with great success. They used online services and conducted much of their own research. They sought that “hot stock tip of the day” and built up substantial portfolios during the strong bullish times. In periods of uncertainty, however, fewer individuals are choosing to go at it alone and are seeking the advice of an experienced planner.
Tiras and Pennington have built a successful practice by offering a comprehensive financial planning process that includes far more than just the investment aspects. While excellent returns have always been a priority, investments are just one part of the plan which also involves cash flow analysis, risk management (insurance), education planning, tax planning, retirement planning, and estate planning. Today, given all the uncertainties in the markets (and the world, for that matter), these comprehensive services are more important than ever. Their practice has developed numerous relationships with corporations which offer personal financial planning as a key benefit for their employees. By making such services available, these organizations allow their employees to focus on their important financial and retirement needs by working individually with an experienced, knowledgeable planner. From the company’s (clients) standpoint, providing such benefits has proven crucial for employee retention and morale.
WHAT DOES A MERE “WRITER” ADD TO THEIR PRACTICE?
While many of you may know me only from my Brounes & Associates (and FWIW) days, I had a professional career that existed before this one. Once upon a time, I was a CPA at a Big Eight accounting firm who later earned an MBA before embarking on about a 10 year investment career. I served as a trader and securities analyst and delivered numerous presentations about the economy and market conditions to various audiences. My consulting firm has long targeted businesses in the financial services sector, where my background and experiences have proven most beneficial.
While I truly enjoyed the Brounes & Associates experiences, I long suspected that I would eventually return to the investment field when the right situation presented itself. I can honestly say that this position looks to be a perfect fit for me. I have the utmost respect for the practice that Tiras and Pennington have built, particularly their strong commitments to their clients. I am eager to put my past financial and economic background back to work on a daily basis, while also incorporating the marketing skills I have developed over the past few years. I also welcome the chance to work with and learn from these successful individuals and their team of professionals and to help serve their growing client base.
FOR WHAT IT’S WORTH
Something else you may be asking… “So what becomes of your monthly newsletter?” (At least, I hope some of you are asking that.) In truth, this newsletter has become my favorite task at Brounes and Associates for the past four and a half years. More than a marketing/networking piece, it has become an opportunity to stay in touch with friends, family, business associates (past and present) who I do not have the chance to speak with as often as I would like. I take great satisfaction from comments I have received from past issues and always looked forward to discussing my musings (and even my serious thoughts) with many of my readers.
For now, I am planning to continue writing “For What It’s Worth,” at least on a periodic basis. I feel it has become part of my identity and I do not wish to cease these open lines of communications with you at this time. From a company compliance standpoint, I will refrain from writing about certain business topics, but plan to pass along to you the anecdotes of my life experiences and even my thoughts about certain timely issues of the day. (When Eunice comes along, I want you to be the first to know.) As always, your feedback is not only welcome but encouraged. You may find some new twists or even a guest commentator in future issues.
For now, I want to thank each and every one of my clients and associates who I have had the pleasure of working with over the past few years. Few people can honestly say that their jobs are a lot of fun; I happen to be one of the lucky few. Sometimes, however, an offer comes along that simply “cannot be refused.” I look forward to staying in touch and to perhaps working with you in my new capacity in the years to come.