Dear Valued Clients and Friends –
While this is not the normal investment commentary you are accustomed to with Dividend Café, this has become a quasi-annual tradition to not bog down your turkey weekend with a discussion of emerging markets or stock market valuations. I like taking a break this week every year to publicly express my gratitude for a number of things, and I hope you find the read encouraging. I assure you, it is heartfelt.
The annual Thanksgiving at The Bahnsen Group starts with our clients. We are certainly thankful for the trust, confidence, and patronage of our clients, but truly, it goes beyond just those elements. We actually have clients who we truly adore, who are fundamentally lovely people, who treat our advisors and employees with respect and care, and who themselves have incredible life stories. I do a lot in a typical workday – enough that would make one day feel like a whole week to most people. But from the analyst calls to the team meetings to the investment discussions to the desk projects etc., there is nothing that fills my cup more than my daily client meetings. The interaction and relationship I enjoy with my clients is the blessing of all blessings in this business, and anyone who has ever been a financial advisor knows – the amount of daily satisfaction one gets from this business is directly correlated to the quality of people one has as clients. At The Bahnsen Group, we truly have some of the finest quality of people imaginable as clients. It produces immense gratitude in all of us.
I enjoyed a nice career as a financial advisor for many years before I would say that I was “running a business.” To get to the point where I was not trying to do everything for everybody, and to allow for a much more significant and lasting client experience, a point came where an evolution was necessary, and the evolution from a “practice” to a “business” required (and still requires) top-shelf human capital. I will start with the first partner I ever took on, Brian Szytel, who is one of the great financial advisors I have ever been around, who is the model for what relationship management to our clients ought to look like. I often trace back what some of the key milestones were in our history that helped our business become what it has become, and the day Brian was brought on is among the biggest milestones on that list.
Each advisor-partner we have has brought their own giftedness, professionalism, accomplishments, and experience to the table ever since. Kimberlee Davis is not only a remarkable woman, colleague, and professional, with an incredible biography, pedigree, and story, but she is an inspiration to countless women who have and will continue to grow from Kimberlee’s fiscal feminist wisdom. How valuable is Kimberlee to our clients, and therefore to our business? Come to see her new window corner office looking out over the Pacific Ocean to see! =)
Don Saulic has taken the depth and breadth of our wealth services platform to a new level, conducted strenuous due diligence on a vast category of service providers, and through his Financierge publication expanded the intellectual capital and content we deliver clients to entirely new spheres of thought of interest. He has also been a tremendous source of encouragement to me personally and is one of the most empathetic and wise men I am privileged to know.
Robert Graham joined the ranks of advisor-partners this year as well, becoming the youngest partner in our growing firm, and reaping the benefits of six years of hard work and self-sacrifice. He conducts himself with a value system and integrity that would transform society if more people would be willing to adopt it. His successful achievement of the Chartered Financial Analyst designation is a reflection of his investment intelligence. His careful stewardship of our 401k business line is a reflection of his care for the financial well-being of others.
It is hard to remember what life was like before we had Trevor Cummings on our team, constantly finding new ways to service clients, going out of his way to serve others on the team, and generally functioning as a jack-of-all-trades in financial planning, new technologies, best practices, and various industry evolutions. Trevor seeks knowledge, but more than that, he has wisdom. He is a first class asset to our clients and our firms.
Our business was further enhanced this year when we hired our first ever Chief Operations Officer, Brendan Sullivan. I am thankful to Brendan’s beautiful family for giving us the gift of his services and thankful for the decades ahead with Brendan at the helm. He is what every business must have somewhere in their organization – an operator. We are in the top of the first inning in what Brendan’s work will mean for the operation that is The Bahnsen Group, and client experience that pours out of it.
In each of our business divisions, we have leaders who are defined by proactivity, resourcefulness, and tenacity in charge. Brian Tong‘s work as the Director of our Strategy & Communications team (S&C) has not only revolutionized the production and distribution of the vast content and thought leadership we strive to create, but he has done so with a spirit of humility, sacrifice, selflessness, patience, and love that I believe very few people ever see modeled in their lives. His sidekick of several decades, Glen Hall, has been instrumental in us better managing our digital assets, and I believe the S&C division is going to continue coming up with new ways for us to spread our message of dividend growth and behavioral investment wisdom.
The work Deiya Pernas has done chairing our Solutions & Analytics business (S&A) has been so stellar, and so pivotal, for so long, that Deiya serves as our only non-advisor partner. He also made one of the best hires we have ever made in finding Kenny Molina, who in his first year at The Bahnsen Group has advanced the entire process of portfolio reviews, performance analytics, and data intelligence. Our S&A group is a lean and mean team at TBG, and I am so thankful for what they are doing, and that they will continue to do.
Jacqueline O’Hare (Jackie) has become the veteran of our leadership team, managing our Service & Operations group (S&O) to new levels of operational excellence. Her career advancement is a source of tremendous pride and joy for me, as I have seen her advance into the finest operational manager I have ever seen. Camille Mesite has been a stable, steady, and sacrificial addition to her group, and we have incredible expectations for Alexis Olgard as well (who just joined last month). There is no department clients interact with more than S&O, and no department that has done more to ensure a positive experience for our clients than S&O. I am so, so thankful to Jackie and her team.
Rayna Austin has been the quickest-learning financial controller I have ever seen, and though her work exists behind the scenes, I assure you we don’t stay in business if she isn’t smoothly guiding our bookkeeping, bill pay, and financial control operations.
Kelsey Thompson joined at the beginning of 2018 as my Executive Assistant based in our New York office and has probably added three years to my life with her diligent management of my schedule and my day-to-day workflow. She probably didn’t know what she was jumping into when she took this job, but what she has done for me and Joleen in 2018 is the source of ample thanksgiving, to say the least!
Speaking of Joleen, many of you know of the obvious fact that she has been the loving and supportive wife and mother I have needed as I have built this business over the last twenty years. And that should not be understated – she has put up with a lot, and done it with grace and love each step of the way. But what many of you do not know is that this year she took on a serious amount of actual work at The Bahnsen Group, totally quarterbacking our new office expansion (we recently added 2,000 square feet at our Newport location that required a full design overhaul, refurnishing, retechnologizing, etc.). She has taken over the planning of all client events. And she masterminded our rebranding that we executed this last summer from soup-to-nuts. I do not possess the words to express my gratitude for Joleen the wife, or Joleen the Bahnsen Group superstar. She is my partner, forever. Together we are living the dream.
2019 is going to see yet another addition in our Service & Operations team, a new member in Strategy & Communications, a new financial planner joining the S&A team, and a new equity analyst joining our New York office. I would say I am grateful for these four additions in advance, but right now I am mostly just thankful that I have Brendan driving this hiring effort!
I know it may be boring for all of you, but I am thankful for so many of the people who are vital to what I do day in and day out as Managing Partner of this business. Fred Whitaker at Cummins & White proved indispensable this year as my legal counsel. Michael Klarin of Klarin & Associates has been the most valued tax advisor I have ever worked with for years, and has become a needed business advisor, confidant, and friend. Annie Scranton and Meghan Powers of Pace Public Relations have managed media inquiries masterfully. Steve Card of Studley Savilis did yeoman’s work to make our office expansion happen. Drew Nordlicht, Matthias Kuhlmey, and Rob Schein at HighTower are colleagues, peers, and yes, friends! Cheryl, Barry, Jill, John, Karen, Lance, and team in Field Supervision are fair, partnership-minded, and deeply appreciated. Strategas Research and Gavekal Research are vital in what I do as Chief Investment Officer, and frankly, they are vital to the work of all serious students of the global economy as well – First class research and depth of substance and content!
Thank you to our asset management partners at Blackstone, Voya, Alliance Bernstein, Miller-Howard, CAIS, iCapital, Millennium, Skybridge, Vontobel, Cullen, Baron, and First Trust. We work with best-of-breed talent in the world of portfolio management, and these institutions (and the people I am not naming who we work with there) are client-centric, risk-oriented, mission-driven partners and friends.
I am thankful to all of our Financial Concierge Platform providers who add such value to the lives of our clients.
I am thankful to my mentors and friends, Nick Murray and Larry Kudlow, who have profoundly changed my life and my mentality about life, for the good.
And I am thankful to live in the greatest country on God’s green earth, where our financial markets are the most transparent and efficient in the world, and where the financial goals real people like our clients have can be achieved, not despite volatility, but because of it.
It has been an ugly year in much of the national politics and often in the culture-at-large. But there is a place where truth, beauty, and goodness still reign supreme, and that is anywhere there is a heart of Thanksgiving. I speak for my entire team at The Bahnsen Group when I say, thank you, and Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!
David L. Bahnsen
Chief Investment Officer, Managing Partner
The Bahnsen Group
The Bahnsen Group is a team of investment professionals registered with HighTower Securities, LLC, member FINRA, SIPC & HighTower Advisors, LLC a registered investment advisor with the SEC. All securities are offered through HighTower Securities, LLC and advisory services are offered through HighTower Advisors, LLC.
This is not an offer to buy or sell securities. No investment process is free of risk and there is no guarantee that the investment process described herein will be profitable. Investors may lose all of their investments. Past performance is not indicative of current or future performance and is not a guarantee.
This document was created for informational purposes only; the opinions expressed are solely those of the author, and do not represent those of HighTower Advisors, LLC or any of its affiliates.