The Chronicles of Kirtland Financial Management (KFM)
The Era before KFM
As a child, Mary's parents expected her to respect and genuinely interact with all of their friends; as a result, she has always related well to people from all walks of life. Perhaps her interest in business matters is rooted in the conversations she had with one of her father’s best friend, Tommy, a barber who became a “millionaire” by working hard and saving all he could and by being a great listener and investor; he was also known for encouraging others all the time. Furthermore, Mary probably developed her “bent” for working in the business world by observing the example of her mother living out the description of the noble woman described in Proverbs 31.
During her husband’s military career, Mary was primarily a homemaker; but she also found time to build her professional resume and polish her skills for the future, as well as significantly supplement the family’s income by teaching college-level business courses in nearly every place she found herself compliments of the U. S. Army. For example, she taught at Northern Virginia Community College and operated a branch office of the Pentagon Education Center in the Forrestal Building in downtown Washington, D.C. at the age of 23. From 1975 to 1978, Mary taught at Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio, TX while Sister Rose Anelle, Chairman of the Business Department, arranged for a baby-sitter to care for Mary's newborn daughter, Adrienne, in the office next to where Mary was teaching. From 1979 to 1982, Mary taught for the University of Maryland’s Overseas Division in Brussels, Belgium; during this period she gave birth in 1980 to her second child, daughter Meredith, when she was 31 years old. Mary taught for Christopher Newport College in Newport News, VA from 1983 to 1985; then, while living in Merritt Island, FL from 1986 to 1988, Mary had her third child, Bill “Jr.,” at the age of 37 and also taught at the north campus of Brevard Community College in nearby Titusville, FL.
Beginning in 1992, after her husband retired from the military, Mary worked as an adjunct professor at the Kendall Campus of Miami-Dade Community College during 1992 and 1993. During the summer of 1994, Mary accepted the offer of her friend Sam Townsend to work for him as an “investment adviser” in his Townsend Advisory Group (TAG). While working in Sam’s office, Mary was afforded the opportunity to grow in her knowledge of all things related to portfolio management and necessary credentials for financial advisers; in May 1996, she passed the CFP® exam and received her certification as a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional. She also made contacts and built a solid reputation in the local business community.
Along the path to starting her own business, Mary was offered a position at Marsengill Financial Services, Inc. to install a new asset management division in what had historically been an “all-insurance” business. Mary began to work at MFS in Miami’s Coconut Grove Bank with a friend and highly respected financial professional Michael Marsengill, Sr. Because they needed a broker/dealer to conduct business, they aligned themselves with Raymond James Financial Services and in September, Mary passed her Series 7 exam and earned her license as a General Securities Representative. Mike and Mary judged Raymond James to be the “best fit” for them; primarily because it offered an excellent fee-based platform well suited for the independent Registered Investment Adviser business model.
In April 1999 Mary decided to take the "leap" of starting her own RIA firm. After notifying her clients of the foregoing events, Mary agreed to rent vacant space and equipment from Barry, another Raymond James associate, at his Harrison Group business location in Coral Gables, Florida. Mary and Barry hired her longtime friend, Karen, to work as an administrative assistant for both of them. Finally, Mary passed her Series 24 exam for her license as a General Securities Principal that allowed her to operate her own branch office of Raymond James.
The Birth of KFM
On May 5, 1999, Kirtland Financial Management, Inc. opened for business in Suite 210 at 201 Sevilla Avenue, Coral Gables, FL 33134. KFM and The Harrison Group shared a common entrance, a waiting area just inside the entrance, and another area where a receptionist could work. Inside the shared areas, Mary and Barry had separate business offices across from each other and Karen Risech provided administrative support for both advisers.
In this first year of operation, Mary’s challenge was to continue “adding value” for her clients as their financial adviser, and, at the same time, discover and implement the regulations and procedures necessary to operate a business. Although Mary and Barry had separate businesses, they “backed up” each other when needed and afforded their respective businesses an element of depth and continuity not previously possible. One of Mary’s first clients, Doug Williams, the CEO of the Doug Williams Group (a consulting firm), helped Mary develop her Client Satisfaction Survey. This served as an effective tool for her to assess client satisfaction with KFM. He also assisted in the preparation of written materials to explain the KFM mission and distinctives to existing and potential clients. Additionally, Doug helped Mary begin the process of developing the tools she would need to manage her current and future workforce; e.g., job descriptions, performance requirements, all human resource functions, etc.
For the fiscal year ending December 30, 1999, KFM had $24 million in assets under management.
In March, a bear market that would last until October 2002 began with the Dow Jones Industrial Average near 12,000 points and the NASDAQ average near 5,000 points. Although the Dow averages dropped approximately 37.5% and the NASDAQ dropped about 80% over the next two and a half years, the bear market was actually “good” for Mary’s budding business. For example, so many investors were left by their brokers to “fend for themselves” during this period, that Mary’s proactive style of asset management was just what they wanted and needed.
In the spring, Mary attended the Raymond James National Convention in Atlanta, Georgia at the Marriott Marquis Hotel. At this conference Mary was inspired to create a $1,000 college scholarship to be presented each year at the graduation ceremony for Westminster Christian High School (WCS). She stipulated that the recipient was to exhibit Christian character and testimony, earn a credible grade point average, take some of the available business/economics courses at WCS, and demonstrate an interest in pursuing a business degree and career. In May, the initial award of the Kirtland Financial Management Scholarship was made to Sam Boldenow.
When terrorists brought down the World Trade Center buildings on September 11th, the bear market that began the previous year was driven even lower. Mary’s reaction was to make telephone calls to all of her clients the next day to reassure them that when the markets reopened she would make moves necessary to help preserve their assets; further, she encouraged her clients (and fellow churchgoers at the request of her pastor) to not panic. She made her comments after reviewing the history of the markets and concluding that economic problems like recessions and inflation had longer lasting impact on the market than did exogenous events such as war and acts of terrorism. In addition, since she already had made “defensive” moves in the accounts of her clients due to the weakness in the markets that had already started in March of 2000. She reassured them that they were not in “double jeopardy” as a result of 9/11.
In May, the third award of the Kirtland Financial Management Scholarship was made to Frank Feito. The bear market, which began in March 2002, reached its lowest point in October; the Dow average “bottomed out” at close to 7,500 points and NASDAQ average had declined to near 1,000 points. In this pessimistic environment, KFM continued to gain clients and stature due to Mary’s distinctive approach to asset management. That is, a reputation for giving her clients the attention they wanted and “deserved” attracted many new clients who were otherwise feeling detached from their broker.
At the end of the calendar year, KFM had $31.3 million under management.
Over the years, Mary realized that she had often advised some of her clients that they needed life insurance as part of their financial plan. As a result she decided that she should earn her life insurance license and did so on March 12th.
In May, the fourth award of the Kirtland Financial Management Scholarship was made to Eric Valdes. In November, KFM and The Harrison Group acquired additional office space when a law firm vacated its adjacent office space and moved out of the building. A remodeling plan was undertaken to give Mary a new, bigger office of her own; to retain her old office for use as she deemed fit; and, to give her the use of a much needed, new conference room.
At the end of the calendar year, KFM had $41.1 million under management.
In April, Viviana Server-Medina was hired. “Viv” came to KFM highly recommended! Viv came on board with her BBA degree from the University of Miami and was working on her MBA at Florida International University. She quickly assumed duties as Operations Manager and her many improvements to standard operating procedures relieved Mary of many burdensome tasks and allowed her to focus on marketing and portfolio management.
In May, the fifth award of the Kirtland Financial Management Scholarship was made to Tara Rock.
At the end of the calendar year, KFM had $51.7 million under management.
As KFM grew, it became apparent that the research Mary had been reading was true; i.e., that when a business had $50 million under management, a second financial adviser was warranted. Mary was feeling overwhelmed by the demands of the CEO and branch manager positions, as well as with conducting client meetings and doing financial plans, etc. Fortunately, she did not have to look very far for the perfect hire. Brett Hixon was hired June 13th and came to KFM with great credentials; e.g., a BA in Economics from Columbia University, a Series 6 license for mutual funds, a strong background in annuities and insurance, an internship at Smith Barney Financial Services in Manhattan, a year of experience as an internal wholesaler at Jackson National Life, and two-thirds of the way towards earning his CFP® designation, . . . and, as her son in-law, he demonstrated an interest in an equity position with KFM in the future. With Brett on board, KFM was immediately able to give better service to clients.
In July, Brett earned a Series 7 license as a General Securities Representative and a Series 66 license as a Registered Investment Advisor Representative.
During the year, Mary and Brett enhanced the KFM image in the community as follows: on October 16th, Mary was featured in The Miami Herald, Money Section; and, Brett was invited to join the Coral Gables Rotary Club in December.
The "structural sideways market" that had existed since 2000 continued.
At the end of the calendar year, KFM had $65.4 million under management.
In 2006 Mary was recognized, for the first time, as a member of the Raymond James Executive Council*, a select group of $400,000+ annual producers.
On May 19th, the seventh (and final) award of the Kirtland Financial Management Scholarship was made to Crystal Van Orsdel. Westminster Christian School asked Brett to present the award after making a few comments; heretofore, a school administrator had always presented the award.
During the year, Mary was asked to serve in two important positions in the community. First, her church needed her to serve on its Finance Committee which was dealing with declining membership and giving due to a vacancy in the Senior Pastor position; several of her recommendations were quickly implemented. Second, the Board of Directors of a local School asked her to serve on its Foundation Board; in this position she worked with other board members to identify sources of funding for special projects and needs of the school (other than the school’s Capital Campaign and Annual Fund Drives) and, thereby, helped to augment the efforts of the school’s Development Director. During the year, Brett completed three more courses needed to achieve the CFP® designation; i.e., Fundamentals of Income Taxation, Fundamentals of Estate Planning, and Planning for Retirement Needs. The year was earmarked successful introduction of improved procedures and systems designed to increase the “value added” by KFM to its clients. For example, Viviana completely revised the client filing system so that needed information could be retrieved more efficiently.
At the end of the calendar year, KFM had $82.5 million under management.
*Membership is based on prior fiscal year production. Requalification is required annually.
In February, Brett passed the last of five sub-exams leading to the two-day CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ comprehensive exam scheduled for July.
On April 30th, Viviana earned her MBA degree with a 3.9 grade point average (on a 4.0 scale) from Florida International University. At the same time, she enrolled in the College for Financial Planning to obtain credentials as a Registered Paraplanner®.
September was an important month at KFM. After the Dow Jones average reached a historic high of 14,000 (in July), KFM achieved over $100 million in assets under management on September 4th, a recognized industry benchmark; the exact amount was $104,277,241. Brett received the results of the CFP® comprehensive exam he had taken in July and was thrilled to learn that he had passed and could apply for the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ certificate. Having successfully met all exam, education, and experience requirements, Brett’s application to receive the CFP® certification was quickly approved. Just one week later, Viviana successfully completed her Registered Paraplanner® course and received her new designation; as a result, she was able to start working with both new and existing clients to create detailed financial plans and to annually update those already in existence while Mary and Brett were better able to do more marketing, research, investments, etc.
In early February, Viviana gave birth to a baby girl, Celeste, and would not be available on a full time basis to KFM until May when she returned from her maternity and other accumulated leave time. The challenge for KFM was finding the time to do the necessary market research and analysis while maintaining the high level of administrative support clients and colleagues alike had come to expect from Viviana. Janet Brito was hired in February as an Operations Assistant to provide some continuity in client services as a result of Viviana’s absence..
From September 2008 through the end of that year, KFM investors witnessed the worst global financial crisis since the 1930s, far surpassing the meltdown in October 1987. The subprime mortgage debacle was caused by a combination of a large increase in the percentage of subprime mortgages, the absence of underwriting standards in commercial and mortgage banks, unprecedented investor demand for the higher yields generated by securitized mortgages, the inability to value securitized pools, and lax governmental regulation. In essence, investors and underwriters alike assumed that escalating real estate prices would cure all ills.
The week of September 15th proved to be a memorable week in many ways. Monday brought the bankruptcy of Lehman Brothers, Tuesday saw AIG being approved for an emergency $85 billion dollar loan from the Federal Reserve Bank of New York. In the midst of this financial crisis, Mary and Brett, the two KFM “principals,” were also busy on September 18th at 11:30 p.m. overseeing the birth of Cooper, the first born son and grandson to Brett and Mary.
In an attempt to stimulate economic growth and inspire confidence in the financial markets, the biggest government intervention in those markets since the 1930’s occurred when, in September, Congress and the President approved the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program, also known as TARP. It was originally intended to purchase illiquid, impaired securities off of banks’ balance sheets which would allow banks to resume lending to clients; however, as the capital markets continued to deteriorate Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson opted to inject capital directly into the biggest banks in the US rather than purchase securities from the banks. The following week the Dow Jones index of the largest companies traded on the U.S. stock market declined 22%, the worst week in the index’s 118 year history.
For its part, KFM worked “around the clock” to devise proactive responses to the series of financial failures arising from the crisis. During the crisis, KFM continued to have confidence in the system and practiced discipline and adherence to diversified asset allocation models, as well as maintaining a conservative bias and regular communication with clients.
At the end of the calendar year, KFM had $94.5 million under management.
In January (after serving as Treasurer), Mary became Vice-President of the Westminster Christian School Foundation Board, and began helping the school raise funds to increase its endowments. Also in this month, Mary joined the Coral Gables Chamber of Commerce and increased the visibility of KFM while providing a valuable service to the community.
In August 2009 KFM moved to a new location, after 10 years at 201 Sevilla Ave, Coral Gables. The location at 100 Almeria Avenue offered advantages in terms of office space, layout, and ease of parking. While moving is never pleasant, our clients all seemed to be pleased with the improved office location.
In December, twenty-four ladies attended a client appreciation luncheon hosted jointly by KFM and Neiman Marcus of Coral Gables. The Gift Galleries at 390 San Lorenzo Avenue was the site of the affair that had a “Visions of Sugar Plums for the Holiday Season and Beyond” theme.
At the end of the calendar year, KFM had $108.8 million under management.
By comparison to 2008 & 2009 the year 2010 could be described as a year filled with its share of civil unrest (both here and abroad), escalation of wars, sovereign debt crises and general economic turmoil. While all of this contributed to a mid-year double-digit correction across the major equity indexes, the end-of-year result was double-digit returns for the equity markets. However on May 6 th of 2010 you would have been hard pressed to predict such a strong year for stocks as on that day we experienced what is now referred to as the “Flash Crash”. On that day, the Dow Jones Industrial Average plunged about 900 points only to recover those losses within minutes. It was the second largest point swing and the biggest one-day point decline, 998.5 points, on an intraday basis in the history of the Dow Jones Industrial Average.
In April, a group of male clients attended a customer appreciation event hosted by KFM. At 7:30 p.m. the men were treated to a baseball game between the University of Miami and the University of North Carolina. The site of the affair was the Mark Light Field on the UM campus and refreshments were served to the clients in the "VIP club seats" behind home plate; the group was recognized to the crowd by an announcement on the scoreboard; the 'Canes won the game!
On May 10th, Mary’s membership in the Financial Planner’s Association (FPA) of Miami-Dade County led to her participation in a community outreach program sponsored by the local (Channel 4) affiliate of CBS television; the television program was appropriately named “4 Your Money Phone Bank”. Mary was very actively involved (on television) in fielding questions from Channel 4 viewers on all aspects of financial decision making; e.g., investments, markets, etc.
In the spring, Mary was contacted by the Editor of the Student Pharmacist Magazine and asked to write an article providing financial advice for the readers about to embark on their career. As a result, her article, "Identifying and Prioritizing Your Financial Planning Goals," was featured (on the cover and in the publication) of the May/June edition of the magazine.
During this year another son was born to Brett, Reid, on June 30th.
In October, Brett attended the Financial Planning Association national conference in Denver, Colorado. This conference is the single largest gathering of financial planning professionals in the world. Hosted by the FPA, it is a one-stop-shop for resources that provides high-quality education in many topic areas that are important for financial planners and their clients, i.e. health care reform, estate tax issues, investment strategies, financial regulatory reform, and much more.
At the end of the calendar year, KFM had $124.3 million under management.
On January 10th , Mary’s membership in the Financial Planner’s Association (FPA) of Miami-Dade County led to her participation in a community outreach program sponsored by the local (Channel 4) affiliate of CBS television; the television program was appropriately named “4 Your Money Phone Bank”. She was very actively involved (on television) in fielding questions from Channel 4 viewers on all aspects of financial decision making; e.g., investments, markets, etc.
From August 16th-18th, Mary attended a Raymond James Practice Intelligence workshop in Newport, Rhode Island. During the conference at the Viking Hotel, Mary committed to working with a consultant from the Raymond James Headquarters in order to “polish" some key components of KFM’s client services. Immediately, Mary focused on evaluating the effectiveness of her meetings with new clients when it comes to discovering what "needs" they have and which are important to be considered as KFM makes investment recommendations and decisions. As a result of the conference, a new client presentation was developed in order to give a more comprehensive overview of the KFM approach to financial planning and investment management.
Even though there were some encouraging signs of economic growth early in the year, by October 1st, the hoped for economic recovery began reversing (from a high on the Dow of 12,226) due to a disastrous tsunami in Japan which severely impacted the ability of various industries in the US to obtain needed parts and supplies, declining US consumer confidence and spending, political unrest (in Tunisia, Egypt, Syria, and Libya) during an "Arab spring" that pushed gasoline prices to record highs, unresolved US political and policy issues relating to the growing National debt levels ($14+ trillion) and the historic downgrading of its credit rating (from AAA to AA+) by Standard and Poor's Rating Services, further decline in the U.S. housing market, and continued non-resolution of the European (Greece in particular) debt crisis which threatened a default on government bonds and failure of banks. As the calendar year's fourth quarter began, the Dow was struggling to "hold the line" at the 11,000 level.
In spite of the bleak economic climate, Mary was chosen for membership in this year's Leaders Council*. For perspective, only 134 advisors were included on this year's Leaders Council; this group represented roughly 4% of the advisors affiliated with Raymond James Financial Services. Although Mary was the one recognized by Raymond James, she attributed the award and the recognition to the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice of both Brett and Viviana, both of whom have the reputation of never "leaving their work at the office."
At the end of the calendar year, KFM had $135 million under management.
*Membership is based on prior fiscal year production. Requalification is required annually.
In March, Mary attended an Alternative Investments conference at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, Nevada. The conference provided a robust agenda with presentations hosted by portfolio management teams, industry specialists, key members of the Alternative Investments Group, and special guest keynote speakers.
Mary was quoted repeatedly in an article titled "How to Start Building a Nest Egg in Your 20s" and featured in the Money Section of the March 11th edition of The Miami Herald newspaper. Her advice as a respected member of the financial services community was evident throughout the article.
In May, Mary and Viviana attended the 2012 National Conference for Professional Development at the Orlando World Center Marriott. Viviana was able to attend the higher level classes for staff professionals and brought home several innovations that has been very beneficial to our firm.
In August, Mary coaxed her happily retired husband back to work as a part-time operations assistant for the overworked Viviana. In September, Bill attended a Branch Professional Training Conference at the Downtown Marriott Hotel in Salt Lake City, Utah.
On October 1st, Mary was notified by Raymond James Headquarters that she was chosen for the second consecutive fiscal year for membership in their Leaders Council*. This year 180 advisors were included in this Leaders Council "class;" this group represented roughly three percent of the advisors affiliated with Raymond James Financial Services. Although Mary was the one recognized by Raymond James, she attributed the award and the recognition to the hard work, dedication, and sacrifice of her staff.
On November 8th, KFM hosted a “Retirement Income Planning in a Low-Income, High Anxiety Environment” seminar for 15 local CPAs. The seminar presented strategies for funding retirement, provided tools for analyzing the optimal Social Security benefit collection strategy for couples deciding when to start benefits, and examined how to determine a safe withdrawal rate for clients whose portfolios are being used to fund retirement.
At the end of the calendar year, KFM had $152 million under management.
*Membership is based mainly on assets under management, education, credentials and fiscal year production. Re-qualification is required annually.
The year began with the stock market continuing to recover from the collapse in 2008. On February 1, the DJIA reached 14,000 for the second time in history as investors continued to recycle their funds into stocks from low interest rate bonds. On March 5th, the Dow Jones Industrial Average closed at the highest level ever recorded; i.e., 14,253.77 and then on May 7th the DJIA closed above 15,000 for the first time in history; i.e., 15,056.20.
Mary's fourth grandchild; i.e., Matthew, was born in Atlanta to daughter Adrienne and husband Edwin on April 4th.
Having qualified in October 2012 as a member of the Raymond James Leadership Council, Mary attended the ICD Leaders Council Conference in Maui. Of course it would happen that while she was in a time zone 6 hours behind EST, the bond market "imploded" when a Federal Reserve governor gave a speech and mentioned that they might begin to "taper" bond purchases starting in September ( which actually did not happen until December). This lead to several 3:30 AM calls with Brett to discuss client concerns and portfolio adjustments that might be appropriate!!!
In October Mary and Brett conducted their first quarterly client conference call. Clients were notified in advance of this event and were invited to participate by listening and/or calling in with comments and/or questions after hearing Brett and Mary's discussion of market conditions and political actions that could impact their financial planning. This will be a quarterly event with topics chosen to help KFM provide the most up-to-date financial/investment planning information to its clients.
Also during October, Mary attended an RJFS "by invitation only" Practice Management Workshop at the historic Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC. While she was there the hotel was celebrating its 100th year of existence; unfortunately, the celebration was marred by a four alarm fire due to the "north" chimney in the main lobby catching fire near the top of the smokestack and spewing smoke through the fourth and fifth floors of the main building. Mary had to evacuate her room at the request of firemen working the four alarm event; she wanted to go out the window and down the fire engine's ladder, but submitted to taking the stairs instead.
On November 9th KFM was a Silver Sponsor for over 700 participants in the 4th Annual Youth For Christ (YFC) Zoo Run/Walk. The YFC organization is dedicated to making a positive difference in young people's lives through development of their spiritual lives and, at this event, by watching wild, but cute, animal behavior over a five kilometer course in the Miami Zoo! Mary's son, Bill, finished in 3rd place for his age group; Mary walked the course and did not need oxygen at the finish line.
Also in November Mary was asked to be on the University of Miami's Planned Giving Advisory Board, the purpose of which is to assist and advise the University of Miami on all aspects of its planned giving program by serving as a resource for various opportunities to educate donors, staff, faculty, alumni, and fellow professionals on relevant planned giving topics.
At the end of 2013, KFM had $166 million under management.
2014 may have been a good year for investors, but an especially good year for KFM. On January 31st, Viviana gave birth to her son Maks! Thankfully not long after that Viviana returned from maternity leave, and needless to say, we were all very happy to welcome her back!!!
In April, KFM celebrated Viviana’s ten-year anniversary with the firm. Since her arrival, Viviana has worked closely with Mary and Brett to make the business successful in both the financial and operational aspects of the company.
In May, Mary and Brett attended the Raymond James National Conference hosted in Washington, DC. The four-day conference offered classes from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM daily with the goal of keeping us current on all areas of financial planning such as estate planning, investment and portfolio strategy, technological updates, practice management, and regulatory changes.
In June, Mary flew to Chicago to attend the Morningstar Investment Conference. The conference brought in guest portfolio managers from some of the top mutual funds and hedge funds nationwide. Each offered an updated review of the market’s status as well as knowledge and resources on key financial topics, investment strategies and economic perspectives. It was an extremely informative conference!
In July, the firm welcomed the newest addition to the KFM family, Madison Moreno. Madison joined the team as an Operations Assistant in order to support Viviana in fulfilling the administrative duties required to effectively serve KFM clients.
In September, Brett completed the Series 24 exam, a rigorous exam composed of 150 questions. Passing the exam will allow Brett to be qualified for supervising and managing branch activities at Kirtland Financial when needed.
The following month, Brett attended the Raymond James Practice Intelligence workshop in Chicago which focused on ways that we can make our practice more efficient and better service our clients.
In December, KFM held their annual Christmas Client Appreciation event at Vizcaya Museum and Gardens. Clients were able to spend the afternoon socializing over lunch, making a burlap Christmas tree, and enjoying the scenic views offered at the museum. As usual, there was no shortage of lively conversation.
Kirtland Financial ended the year with $186 million under management.
The year started off on a high note with the birth of Brett’s third son (and Mary’s fifth grandson), Bryce! Brett was overjoyed to have another boy join his brood and Mary was left wondering if she was ever going to have a granddaughter (more on that later!).
In April, Mary and Brett attended the Raymond James National Conference in Las Vegas, which addressed changes in the realm of financial planning as well as internal improvements to systems and processes. We would tell you more about it, but as the saying goes, what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas!
With the arrival of June also came Brett’s 10th anniversary with KFM. From his start, Brett has been such an integral part of our family (both personally and professionally) and has worked hard to make our firm better for our clients. We look forward to what the future holds for us as a firm and having Brett as part of our team sparks confidence that the future is bright.
October thankfully brings cooler weather to South Florida, and like a breath of fresh air, also brought Mary her very first granddaughter, Madeline. The family was so happy and excited to finally welcome a little girl into the fold. Also during this time, Brett attended the Practice Intelligence Conference in North Carolina, a program designed to give financial advisors resources for improving business practices and procedures.
In November, Brett attended the RJFS “By Invitation Only” Practice Management Workshop in Arizona designed to assist us in developing our practice to its full potential.
As 2015 came to a close, we celebrated with our annual client appreciation event at the Biltmore Hotel. Clients enjoyed a nice lunch with great company and participated in a little holiday cheer by painting holiday-themed vases. It was a nice and relaxing way to celebrate and end a wonderful year.
KFM ended the year with $192 million under management.
This year started off with quite a change for the firm: as of January 1st, 2016, Brett took over as President of KFM. Mary had always planned to semi-retire at age 66 and with Brett’s long tenure at KFM, the move just felt right. It gave Mary a chance to focus on the part she loved most about this business: the actual financial planning! Now it’s Brett’s turn to deal with the headaches that come with the operational side of running a business.
In February, Mary qualified for Leaders Council and was rewarded with a trip to Sonoma, CA in March. Here she was able to enjoy the beautiful views, miles of hiking trails, and, of course, the wineries. It was a memorable trip to a side of the country she doesn’t get to travel to often enough and she’s looking forward to visiting again in the future.
Also in March, Brett attended the National Conference in Nashville, Tennessee. There were several advisor sessions, technology presentations, and professional development sessions, all which kept Brett quite busy during his time there. Of course, it was nice to have some time to himself as well; being in a house with three young boys can’t always be easy!
Towards the end of May, Mary left us for a little while as she underwent knee replacement surgery. Luckily, the surgery went well and Mary’s knee feels 20 years younger – the rest of her didn’t get the memo, however. Physical therapy was grueling and the recovery process took longer than she anticipated. Then again, Mary anticipated that she’d be up and running in just a few weeks! It was a test of patience for her, but she got through it and has been able to continue enjoying all of her usual activities.
“The rest of the year passed uneventfully,” is what someone who doesn’t work in an industry that is impacted by the results of the presidential election would say. In the weeks, days, hours leading up to the election, clients were continuously calling in, asking how one candidate’s view point might affect the economy; this didn’t ease up for a couple of weeks after the election. But, as with everything else, we kept a cool head here at KFM and urged our clients to do the same.
To celebrate another successful year, and as a ‘thank you’ to our clients, we celebrated our annual “ladies-only” client appreciation event at the Mayfair Hotel in Coconut Grove. Clients came out on a beautiful South Florida day to spend time with us, decorating holiday candles, enjoying a delicious lunch, and listening to a wonderful harpist. As always, this event was a great way to de-stress after a long year.
KFM ended the year with $203 million under management.
In April, Brett attended the National Conference in Orlando, Florida to take many continuing education courses and sharing best practices with other professionals in our industry.
In May, Federico Baez joined the KFM team as the new Operations Assistant replacing Anna who left us to take care of her growing family. She gave birth to a healthy baby boy in July and we wish her the best.
Our annual “ladies-only” luncheon this year was held at Grove Isle and allowed everyone to show off their artistic skills creating their personalized holiday platters. That was followed by a delicious lunch and the musical styling of our very own Federico, who in addition to being an important part of the KFM team, is also an accomplished flutist.
KFM ended the year with $243 million under management.
(to be continued with the passage of time...)
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*This information has been obtained from sources considered to be reliable, but we do not guarantee that the foregoing material is accurate or complete. Any opinions are those of Brett Hixon and Mary Kirkland and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Dow Jones Industrial Average (DJIA), commonly known as “The Dow” is an index representing 30 stock of companies maintained and reviewed by the editors of the Wall Street Journal. NASDAQ composite is an unmanaged index of securities traded on the NASDAQ system. Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.