In many ways it seems like yesterday, in others it seems like…well…35 years! Over those years, it’s been my pleasure to experience the evolution of our business from a provider of life insurance and investments to an ensemble firm focused on financial life planning. That evolution wasn’t always easy and it was fraught with the perils all business owners face. And through it all, we persisted and I wouldn’t trade a single second (or any of the other 1,103,759,999) of the journey.
From my first two-room rental space at 5200 Washington Avenue to our beautiful office center we call home today I have collected memories and experiences that couldn’t be valued on any of the world stock market exchanges. They are a priceless collection of moments and of sharing and learning, caring and worrying, trying and failing, celebrating and mourning and continuously evolving to be better than the day before.
I am so proud to still have many clients from those first, early years. They have grown with us, watched us change and evolve, and stood by us when market conditions were unstable or downright scary. We stood with them in times of celebrations and suffering, and I have been singularly honored to work with several through their final, end of life transition. Some of our clients represent the children and grandchildren of those early clients of Financial Service Group.
We’ve also evolved our business model from one where we were paid by commissions to a fee-only model. That change altered the way we were paid for our work and gave us the opportunity to concentrate more completely on our fiduciary responsibility to our clients. While selling financial products was never really our goal, transitioning to fee-only permanently removed that as an incentive. As fee-only financial planners, our fiduciary responsibility is very clear and we are ethically and legally bound to work solely in the best interests of our clients.
The faces of FSG have also changed through the years, but I must say the team we have in place today is one of the most highly functioning work groups I’ve ever seen. As an ensemble firm clients are not assigned to a single planner but are clients of the firm. This means that our clients receive the benefit of the collective group, each bringing their own unique skill set and talents to help create a client experience that you will be hard pressed to find anywhere else.
Terri Larson D’Alie has been with me the longest—21 years! I can’t even imagine what our office would be like or where I’d be today without her support through all those years. Justus Morgan joined the firm in 2003 and this April marks his 15th anniversary. His wisdom, loyalty, steadfastness and patience has enriched our client experience and given us the opportunity to continue evolving the services we are able to offer. He often holds the fort while I explore and test new ideas and areas where we might add more value. Justin Moilanen is celebrating six years with FSG and his attention to detail, technical skills, and dedication allow him to provide superior service. Bob Francour, our resident CPA has served his encore career with FSG for the last eight years and is a fixture in our office during tax season every year.
Along with Kim Molbeck, Traci Pedersen and Brittany Komorowski, I would venture that we have the finest team of any financial planning firm in the country. And my wife, Tami Witt, has offered her career-long experience in communication, change management and org development by guiding us in those areas. My sons, Jason and Jeremy Haubrich contribute by helping to keep our systems and environment in top condition.
While our locations, structure, and people have changed through more than three decades, our loyalty to our community has not. We have been and remain a known face in the Racine business community and are proud of the support we offer through time, talent, and money. Our referral program, for example, is unique in that for each referral to our office (regardless if the person decides to become a client), we donate $100 to a charity of choice in the name of the person making the referral. As a team, we’ve volunteered at River Bend Nature Center and Veterans of Wisconsin tiny homes project. And we serve on numerous volunteer boards at a variety of non-profits as a way to give back. Our Reading for your Well Being book program has delivered nearly a thousand free books to the community under the belief that a more informed community will make more informed decisions about their money and life and raise the value of the entire community.
There is so much more I can say about Financial Service Group at this anniversary milestone, but Tami tells me good communication practice is to break long stories into shorter segments, so I’ll follow her lead. Throughout this anniversary year, I’ll share other thoughts, examples, observations and memories in other posts.
Our client appreciation event later this year will be a special celebration ofour anniversary and you won’t want to miss–more on that later as well.
For now, I’ll close by expressing my deepest and most heartfelt appreciation for the opportunity to lead a business that inspires others to live their great lives every day.
Thanks for the memories!
Michael P. Haubrich