Dear Clients and Friends of The Center,
The year 2020 marked The Center’s 35th anniversary serving clients, our dedicated team members, the financial planning profession, and our communities. And while we knew it was going to be a special year, little did any of us know just what 2020 would entail.
How do you describe a year like 2020? Indescribable? Unique? Historic? Unprecedented? Like never seen before? From the pandemic caused by COVID-19; to one of the most highly contested presidential elections, to social injustices and unrest, to financial market volatility, to new tax regulations in the Cares and Secure Acts, to Zoom becoming a household name – the year 2020 is one for the history books.
Without a doubt, COVID-19 has disrupted life as we know it for our families, businesses, and communities. And while 2020 was a year of remarkable challenges, it was also full of resiliency, compassion, and camaraderie in many respects. I am extremely proud of and applaud my colleagues’ resiliency and ability to meet the unprecedented challenges and events with success and caring for our clients and each other.
From the start of the pandemic, together we navigated the ups and downs by maintaining a focus and drawing strength from our purpose and each other. The partner group was steadfast in our commitment to placing people over profits. And thanks to your commitment to allowing us to serve you, our entire team is intact with no layoffs or furloughs.
In last year’s letter, I posed the following question: Too busy to get into the office? Little did we know how critical it would be to offer alternative meeting methods such as Zoom! We missed seeing you in person, but thanks to technology, and our Senior IT Manager Jim Brown, we were still able to have meaningful annual review meetings. Starting in March we held most meetings via telephone and Zoom. For the most part I would say you, our clients, and our team made a seamless transition to a virtual meeting environment. Zoom has been a wonderful technology tool that allows us to see each other and share a computer screen very much like we are sitting in the same office together. Not comfortable with Zoom yet? Let us know and we’d be happy to give you a personal introduction.
In 2020, we provided clients and friends with various virtual educational opportunities including: post-election and year-end tax planning webinars, a webinar on making Medicare decisions, and our 35th Anniversary client event held virtually showcasing the history of the Detroit Zoo. We have a full slate of webinars planned for 2021 with the hopes of utilizing our newly expanded education space later in the year.
Our Center Safety Task Force (whodathunk we needed a Safety Task Force!) has been carefully monitoring CDC and state guidelines. Per their recommendation, your Center Team will continue to work remotely to ensure the safety of both our team and clients. Client meetings will continue to be held by telephone or Zoom, and in rare cases in office. And to bring a little of our office to your home, Client Concierge Manager, Gerri Harmer, may even surprise you with a special goody package before some meetings.
Before sharing some of the other highlights of 2020, I’d like to pause. Sometimes we get so busy in our day to day work (after all we do love financial planning!) that we don’t stop and say thank you to the people who have made our business what it is today – and that’s just what I’d like to do right now. We want you to know that we sincerely appreciate your continued confidence and trust, and consider you a valued client. Being the steward of our clients’ finances is a task taken quite seriously here at The Center.
State of The Center: Continued Measured Growth….in Spite of the Pandemic
Both the number of clients that we serve and client assets increased, which positively affects our revenues. Simply put, when clients’ do better, we do better. As of December 31, 2020, The Center serves over 900 clients representing investment assets in excess of $1.38 Billion dollars. Our clients served increased at a manageable pace thanks to introductions from our existing clients and other professionals. And once again we experienced high client retention (thank you – we do not take it for granted).
As the number of clients that we serve continues to grow, so does our team member count. In fact, our firm philosophy has always been to be prepared for growth before it occurs; we are always looking to add competent and caring professionals to the team. Our team member count was 30 at the end of the year. Early in the year Mallory Hunt joined the firm and in January 2021, financial planner Michael Brocavich, CFP® joins the firm as a Senior Financial Planner. We look forward to sharing more about Michael with you in the weeks to come.
Financial Planner Peggy Hall Davenport has just retired after an accomplished 40 year career. Our experience in transitioning relationships to other caring and competent planners will ensure that clients receive the same great experience. A special thank you to all of you that attended our virtual retirement party in Peggy’s honor. Also, as many of you know, partner Laurie Renchik has announced her retirement plans at end of 2021. We look forward to celebrating Laurie’s success with you all later in the year.
Personal Milestones & Celebrations
As retiring financial planner Peggy Hall Davenport shouted (over Zoom of course) – “don’t drink The Center water!” Center babies – they’re everywhere. Lauren and Chris Adams welcomed their second child, daughter Lizzi. Nick and Robin Defenthaler added #3, baby Dean. Matt and Diane Trujillo also added #3 to their family, a son Christian. And then there were twins! Nick and Emily Boguth welcomed their twin girls, Lucy and Emma.
For the 4th consecutive year, The Center was recognized in Crain’s Cool Places to Work and also once again landed on the InvestmentNews Best Places to Work for Financial Advisors.
While we value firm awards more than individual awards, several of our team members received recognition on some impressive lists: Partners Laurie Renchik and Sandy Adams were named Forbes Top Women Advisors. Matt Chope and Tim Wyman once again landed on the Forbes Best in State Wealth Advisor ranking. And, Tim Wyman was again named on the Financial Times 400 Top Advisors list.
Serving our Profession & Community Organizations
The Center has a long history of active participation in the financial planning profession. Financial Planner Bob Ingram was elected to the 2020 Financial Planning Association of Michigan’s board of directors. Jaclyn Jackson was elected to serve the board of Impact 100 Metro Detroit. Kali Hassinger joined the Women in Insurance & Financial Services group. New partner Lauren Adams has been elected to the CFA Society of Detroit board. Jacqueline Roessler fully revised and updated the Institute for Divorce Financial Advisors (IDFA) certification coursework material, which will go into effect in January 2021. And, Tim Wyman has accepted board roles: Albion College Board of trustees, serving their Endowment and Finance Committees as well as the Cystinosis Research Network.
Our Charitable Committee’s efforts, led by Jeanette LoPiccolo, continued significant contributions to a variety of organizations and causes. While our in person volunteer efforts were disrupted, The Center team found a way to make a significant impact including:
- Giving over $12,400 to local food banks including Gleaners and Forgotten Harvest.
Jaclyn Jackson interviewed 4 local nonprofits with our blog series “Heroes Campaign”.
Jacqueline Roessler and Abigail Fisher led a 4 week team challenge to raise money for 5 local nonprofits in our “2020 Mash Up”.
Kali Hassinger, Jacqueline Roessler, and Jaclyn Jackson participated in Impact 100 Metro Detroit helping to donate $100,000 to 2 local nonprofit heroes.
Matt Chope hosted an economic and investment update for over 100 local church members (BUC). Check out our Speaker’s Bureau page for more information.
- Sponsorship of the Michigan Opera Theatre Children’s Chorus first ever virtual opera
Sponsorship of the virtual Detroit Chamber Winds & Strings (DCWS) Holiday Brass concert in December. The Center is one of the longest standing supporting organization of DCWS.
Diversity & Inclusion
As we ponder 2020, there is a lot to reflect on. In addition to COVID-19, we have also witnessed a greater sense of awareness around social injustice and disparities. At The Center, we have engaged in all team racial justice conversations and several team members kicked off a book club (“So you want to talk about race?”). Most notably, our Vision 2030 was updated to reflect diversity and inclusion being woven into the fabric of the firm. Our values of Nice & Kind and Real & Down to Earth demand that we are all treated fairly. Every team member acts with compassion, empathy and respect for our clients and colleagues.
We aspire to create an environment where everyone has a chance to do their best work. A firm where team members feel that their work means something, their ideas matter, and feel they are respected by their peers and firm leadership. We recognize that while each of us has a different story, everyone feels welcome and included because of our culture of openness and understanding. The components of DEI (Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion) are discrete yet dependent parts of a collective whole that ensures The Center is a place where all can be their best and fullest selves.
Under the direction of Laurie Renchik and Allison Bondi, in 2020 Center team members were highly sought after media contributors in a variety of publications, articles and even the “Tele”! Here is just a small sample:
Nick Defenthaler and Tim Wyman were interviewed live on WXYZ. Tim Wyman made three appearances on FOX 2. Kali Hassinger, Bob Ingram, Josh Bitel and Sandy Adams were all featured by Authority Magazine. Angela Palacios was part of Detroit Crain’s signature money manager annual piece. Lauren Adams contributed a byline article published in Advisor Perspectives online magazine on individual stock investing. And, Nick Defenthaler and Tim Wyman both had articles published by industry media, Think Advisor.
Expanding our Skills
Personal and professional growth continues to be a rock of the firm. We invest in the professional development of team members for their success, and in turn, for the success of our clients.
Several team members successfully completed securities exams: Angie Palacios passed FINRA Series 9 and 10 compliance exams, Lauren Adams passed the life/accident/health exam, and Kali Hassinger successfully completed the variable annuity exam.
Team members were also quite busy this year engaged in specialty training. Kelsey Arvai completed graduate school at Wayne State University. Several team member’s participated in specialized leadership training facilitated by Dion Leadership. Nick Defenthaler finished his first year at the G2 Institute. Jeanette LoPiccolo and Ashley Frank attended a Raymond James branch professionals’ conference pre COVID, and Kali Hassinger gained valuable knowledge through Dale Carnegie leadership training.
We have continued our involvement in the Small Giants Community. Small Giants are organizations around the world that want to be the best and not necessarily the biggest. Small Giant firms focus on people, have intimate relationships with their clients or customers, are financially transparent, and support their communities. Lauren Adams and Tim Wyman have completed the Small Giants Leadership Academy program and Angela Palacios is our newest participant.
Turning the Page to 2021!
Many of us are ready to put this year of unexpected challenges and constant change behind us. And yet, we also know that the symbolic turning of the page will not bring a clean slate. We will continue to monitor COVID-19, the hopeful success of vaccines, the Georgia Senate race, a new White House administration and what that may mean in terms of new tax policies or regulations, and the economic and investment environment so that we can update financial plans as necessary.
As a multi-generational firm with a solid 35 year foundation, we will continuously work to improve the firm for our clients’ benefit. To that end, we are extremely excited that Lauren Adams, CFP®, CFA® and Matt Trujillo, CFP® have accepted invitations to become our newest partners of our growing firm.
Thank you again for the opportunity to serve you in 2020. From The Center home to your home, Happy New Year!
Timothy Wyman, CFP®, JD