Justus Morgan reflects on FSG 40th anniversary
Many people may think of April Fool’s Day as the day of the year when it’s okay to play pranks on unsuspecting friends and family. Some like it, many do not. But April 1, 2003 was a “no joke” kind of day for me. It was my first day on a new job, a job that has turned into a 20+ year career.
At the time I started, FSG was located in an office complex on Durand Avenue. I had just gone through a rather grueling interview process that took some time. Most notably, one part of the process included reading and absorbing two books. In and of itself, that’s not a big deal – I was a reader then and still am today. The bigger deal was that I had to complete the pre-hire assignment during my honeymoon! My new bride, Maggie was a good sport about it as I spent the required hours to make sure I was well-read in time for my final interview which was scheduled immediately after our return.
The books were “Why Smart People Do Stupid Things with Money” by Bert Whitehead and “The New Retirementality” by Mitch Anthony. Both were in their first edition in 2003. Today both are 5th edition versions and we still stock them in our FSG reading library. I no longer have the originals as I likely passed them along to someone else, but the messages they contained have lingered and I’ve revisited the next four editions ensuring I remained current with new insights from both.
In 2004 I expanded my professional experience by earning my Enrolled Agent designation from the Internal Revenue Service and since then I’ve prepared thousands of tax returns. This expanded service is a value-add to FSG clients along with other FSG innovations I’ve been party to through the years. Further living up to our “never stop learning” value, I earned the Certified Financial Planner™ designation in 2006, which is still the gold standard in our industry. There have been countless conferences, seminars, continuing education, and other learning opportunities through the years that have enhanced my mind and fed my soul.
Our first child, Amelia, was born in 2007. This fall, she’ll be sweet 16. Her brother Toby came along in 2010. This year will mark our 10th consecutive year taking a family vacation to Rocky Mountain National Park in Colorado. Always a family favorite and one of our best places to build cherished memories together.
In 2008, Mike invited me to become a shareholder in FSG. For anyone who remembers 2008, it wasn’t an easy year for the economy. My “golden ticket” opportunity turned into a 25% pay cut due to the financial crisis that gripped the global economy. Thank goodness that was a temporary situation and the economy (and my salary!) recovered.
2008 was also the year FSG moved to our permanent home on Northwestern Avenue. That was a big move, literally and figuratively. We moved from cramped quarters to a spacious new office center that was specifically designed to create the kind of environment where our clients could feel comfortable and at home when visiting. We upgraded our space and our technologies which allowed us to host client and business events and provide a great physical environment for our employees. Private offices, a fully stocked kitchen, a workout room, and beautiful grounds were welcome features after sharing deskspace at our Durand Avenue office.
In fact, our spacious conference room and deck that overlooks our well-manicured green space (thanks to the tireless efforts of Kim Molbeck!), has been the setting for many client workshops, and for Summer Gatherings that we hosted for other financial planners. I organized numerous gatherings but one of my favorite ones was our 3rd Annual Summer Gathering event in 2013 on positivity and the power of appreciative inquiry. The Gathering featured psychologist Ed Jacobson, a legend in the financial planning industry. Today, we still apply the lessons Ed shared with us during that year’s Gathering. Sadly, Ed passed away in 2019—I would have loved to hear how he would have turned even the hardships of the COVID years to something positive.
I’ve been privileged through the years to meet and learn from many authors and experts who have been instrumental in my professional and personal development. Bert Whitehead, Mitch Anthony, and Ed Jacobson stand out as some but there have been dozens more who have helped FSG carve a unique and differentiated approach to building relationships and services that contribute to our clients’ great lives.
As FSG recognizes 40 years in business and I celebrate having been there for half of those years, I can’t help but reflect on the importance of relationships. Mike and I have been through a lot together in two decades. We’ve managed to be each other’s sounding board, confidante, and friend through it all. My colleagues at work make it a place I look forward to going to every day. And above all else, I’m truly blessed by the relationships I have with our clients. It’s the human aspects of our day-to-day work that makes each day unique and special. It’s a great way to spend a career!