IT BEGINS AND ENDS WITH PEOPLE The Roots of Financial Architects
In some ways, it might be accurate to say that Financial Architects would not exist were it not for my little sisters. Being the eldest son in a family of nine teaches you a lot about leadership, confidence, and mentorship. This is especially true when you’ve got to convince five sisters to see things your way. It may sound like a humble beginning, but by the time I made my first step into the business world, it was clear I had a leg up on my competition. While I was getting my education I sold real estate part time. Despite my limited hours, I was outselling a lot of the full- time guys, and people were taking notice. Now, this was 55 years ago — I was 24 years old and really didn’t know much at all about the finance industry. But one day, someone looking at my real estate numbers said, “You should go into the insurance business!” So, I sent my resume to an insurance company and the next thing I knew, I was on a plane to Chicago for training. I learned all I could about the insurance market, and sure enough, found that the people skills necessary for the job were second nature to me. It was in these one-on-one interactions with clients that I discovered just what the work I was doing meant to people. By age 26, I’d founded my own general agency.
Sometimes this meant driving to people’s houses, and other times, to the hospital. The first time I delivered a death claim, the experience changed me forever. Here was a family that had just lost their breadwinner. On top of the pain and hardship that comes with losing a loved one, this family was grappling with the specter of financial uncertainty. I’ll never forget the look of relief that came across their faces when I stepped into that room with the check. That moment brought it all home for me: This business is all about keeping families secure in their darkest hour. From then on, I knew I wanted to work with people who shared this perspective. A few years later, I met this long-haired kid named Kenneth Grace. On the surface, he looked like a hippie, but after a short time talking to him, I could tell he had a sharp mind for finance. I began to take him under my wing, starting with a haircut and a trip to my haberdasher. We became fast friends, laying the groundwork for greater things to come. After a brief stint in Houston, Texas, I decided it was time to return to Michigan. I’d had my fill of being a general agent, and the extra managerial minutiae it entailed. I turned to my friend Ken, asking if he would head up this new Michigan venture, assuring him that I would support him however I could. He agreed, and we created Financial Architects. We knew that to succeed, we needed a strong
commitment to our values and build a company culture we could be proud of.
Shortly thereafter, I was giving career advice to some college athletes at the request of their athletic director. I wasn’t actively recruiting — we still weren’t ready to hire — but simply sharing life advice with these soon-to-be-graduates. That’s when one of the young men, a hockey player, raised his hand and said, “Sir, I want to do what you’re doing.” You guessed it, that was Patrick Marody. After he got a few years of industry experience under his belt, we were more than happy to hire him on. Now he’s one of the principals at the company, and I couldn’t be more proud. Looking back at the history of Financial Architects, I’m struck by the fact that it all comes back to one-on-one interaction. From my days hand-delivering claims checks through my early interactions with Ken up to today, I’ve seen how personal communication makes a world of difference. Watching this firm grow from those roots has been a real joy, and I can’t wait to see where it goes next.
In those days, I was personally delivering checks once claims went through.
CELEBRATING ST. PATRICK’S DAY
An Innovative Culture How Financial Architects Adapts and Thrives
As Turner mentions on this month’s cover, when he and Ken set out to create Financial Architects they wanted to build a company culture they could be proud of. They invested time and energy to not only recruit bright minds with an entrepreneurial spirit, but foster an environment of respect and integrity. Thirty- four years later, we can say this investment has made some incredible returns. Our team has developed into a diverse group of talented people who lend confidence to our organization as we navigate through a constantly changing environment. This confidence is invaluable — to build a firm that stands the test of time, you need flexibility and creativity. From our support to our advisory teams, we want innovators who can think outside the box. After all, innovation is what allows us to best serve our clients. Financial advising is not something you can afford to do by rote. If you do things the same way you did them five years ago, you’re preparing clients for yesterday’s market. From the complexities of the global economy to the constant stream of digital innovations, it’s more important than ever to be on the cutting edge and finding new solutions to today’s challenges. By fostering bright minds and being open to entrepreneurial ideas, our firm is able to stay ahead of the curve. Of course, one does not simply hire creative individuals and call that a culture. The entrepreneurial spirit needs to be harnessed and focused on a common goal. As former Stanford University professor and business author James C. Collins wrote in his book, “Built to Last,” “Every single employee in the company must adapt to a leader’s vision and become cohesive and non- fragmented to survive.” Striking that balance between flexibility and unity is how we’ve been able to evolve as a company. To pull off such a balancing act, a company needs universal values that guide the decisions made by individual team members toward a unified whole. At Financial Architects, we call these our core principles. Because they are so central to how we operate as a firm, and because they define our unique culture, we’ll be covering these nine core principles over the course of the next few editions. You can read up on the first three principles on the next page!
Celebrating St. Patrick’s Day doesn’t have to mean heading to the local Irish bar and drinking a large green beverage. If you’re not interested in going out this year and would prefer to do something at home with the family, here are a few ways everyone can celebrate. IRISH-THEMED FOOD What better way to get festive than by making some St. Patrick’s Day-themed dishes? You can make rainbow cupcakes, green cookies, St. Patrick’s Day popcorn, or — for a more traditional dish — Irish soda bread. You can also cook up an array of greens for dinner on March 17, which could include Brussels sprouts, spinach, cucumbers, green beans, peas, or asparagus. A MISCHIEVOUS LEPRECHAUN To treat your kids to a fun game, leave green footprints around the house and participate in impish tricks! Empty a tissue box, hide the remote, swap out regular light bulbs with green ones, or draw rainbows on the windows. You’re only limited by your imagination. EXPLORING IRISH CULTURE Another way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day with your family is to sit down and read about Irish culture with your kids. Learn where the legend of the leprechaun came from or read other stories from Irish folklore. You can also watch videos of Irish dance performances and encourage the kids to make their own. There’s also fascinating history on St. Patrick and why he became the patron of the holiday that your family members can research together. If you have Irish roots, tell your kids about your heritage. WATCH IRISH MOVIES For a relaxing activity, settle down in front of the TV for a movie night filled with films related to Irish culture. Try “The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns,” “Song of the Sea,” “The Luck of the Irish,” or “The Secret of Kells.” MAKE AN IMPACT Teach your kids how to be “greener” this month by doing more for the environment. Discuss ways to save energy and water in the home, and talk about the importance of taking a break from electronics and enjoying the outdoors.
The information contained in this newsletter is derived from sources believed to be accurate. You should discuss any legal, tax, or financial matters with the appropriate professional. Neither the information presented nor any opinion expressed constitutes a solicitation for the purchase or sale of any security. Registered Representatives offer Securities through The O.N. Equity Sales Company, Member FINRA/SIPC (www.FINRA.org/ and www.SIPC.org). Investment Advisory Services offered through O.N. Investment Management Company and FAI Advisors, Inc. Financial Architects, Inc. and FAI Advisors, Inc. are not subsidiaries or affiliates of The O.N. Equity Sales Company or O.N. Investment Management Company. We have representatives currently registered in the following states: AL, AZ, CA, CO, DC, FL, GA, IL, IN, LA, MD, ME, MI, MN, MS, MO, NC, NJ, NV, NY, OH, OR, PA, SC, TX, VA, WA, and WI.
Take A Break
The Ideas That Guide Us SHARING OUR CORE PRINCIPLES
solution on page 4
This month, we’re kicking off a series focusing on a core foundation of our firm: the value creation principles. There are nine in total, each with its own focus that takes a principle from abstract ideal to actionable item. We wanted to spend time delving into each one and explain how each informs the way we do business. Think of it as a look at the internal workings of our firm’s guiding compass. The first principles we’ll be covering are foundational to the way we carry ourselves as individuals and as a firm. Focus: All decisions, internal and external, maintain a focus on what brings maximum value to our clients. We list this principle first for a reason. It informs the rest of the list, ensuring that we always stay true to the people who matter most: the clients we serve. In a way, this is our version of a Hippocratic oath — every decision we make should be guided by what is best for you, the client. Focus: Why are we here? Make your contribution greater than your reward. This principle is all about innovation. If we, as individuals or as a whole, aren’t producing value, we’re losing it. By pushing ourselves to always bring more to the table, we foster a culture that is always seeking new solutions and perspectives. Focus: Professional and personal growth. Challenge what is. Don’t accept average or okay. No one wants to be stagnant in their personal or professional life. That’s why we find this principle so important. It’s there to push us when we might be tempted to rest on our laurels, and it challenges us when we think we’ve reached our full potential. Where other principles guide our path, this is the ideal that propels us forward. CLIENTS AT THE CENTER ALWAYS CREATING VALUE CONTINUOUS IMPROVEMENT
Everything is the best bagel flavor. This is not a matter of debate. Sprinkle the seasoning on popcorn for a delicious snack that will have people asking, “What does this remind me of?” INGREDIENTS EVERYTHING POPCORN
• 3/4 cup
• 2 teaspoons
INSTRUCTIONS popcorn kernels • 2 tablespoons flaky sea salt • 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds • 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds
• 2 teaspoons
granulated onion • 1/3 cup canola oil • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1. In a small skillet over medium heat, toast sesame seeds. Shake skillet often and cook until white seeds are golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and add garlic, onion, and salt. 2. In a large saucepan, combine popcorn kernels and oil. Cook over medium-high heat, covered, until popcorn kernels start to pop. Once popping, continue cooking and shaking the pan intermittently until popping ceases, about 3–5 minutes. 3. Transfer popcorn to a large mixing bowl. Pour in butter and toss to coat. Finally, add seasoning, toss again, and serve.
Inspired by foodnetwork.com
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Inside This Issue 1 | A Word From Turner Thompson
2 | Family Activities for St. Patrick’s Day
2 | An Innovative Culture
3 | Introducing Our Value Creation Principles
3 | Everything Popcorn
4 | How to Make Your Sailing Dreams Come True
Set Sail for Vacation TAKE YOUR NEXT TRIP OFFSHORE
If you’re lucky enough to have been aboard a ship under full sail, chances are you know the thrill and serenity sailing can give you. If you’ve never been but have always wanted to know what it’s like to get out on the wind and waves, there are many great options available for beginners. Here are some ideas to inspire your next waterside vacation. For those who dream of becoming a skipper one day, a great way to start is by sailing dinghies. These one-sail, beach-launch boats fit 1–2 people and can be rented at most water sports shops. If you want to make it a family experience, shops usually have 16-foot catamarans for rent as well. Catamarans have two hulls rather than one, making for a smoother, more spacious ride. START SMALL
If you’ve never sailed before, inquire about lessons. Most rental operations have instructors on hand who can show you the ropes. The great thing about sailing is that whether you’re in a 12-foot dinghy or a 60- foot sloop, the same basic principles, rules, and skills apply. Many day-sail charters exist for those who want to go out a little farther than a dinghy would permit. If you’ve captained a boat and are familiar with the waters, you can apply for a bareboat charter. However, if you are inexperienced or simply don’t want a local guide at the helm, signing up for a day trip with a skipper and crew is a great option. TAKE A DAY SAIL
DO A FULL CHARTER
Short of owning your own vessel, chartering a boat for multiple nights is the closest you can get to living out your nautical dreams. Some of the most beautiful destinations on earth — from the Caribbean Sea to the Mediterranean — are best experienced from the deck of a sailboat. Letting the sea guide you to amazing snorkeling destinations, remote cays, and bustling harbors is the stuff of real adventure.
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