I graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy in 1992 and served in the Navy for twenty years as a surface warfare officer. My education in financial planning began in the spring of 1994 when a Naval Academy classmate who cared enough about my wife and me to not take no for an answer told us, “We’re going to dinner Wednesday night.” Tom routinely chose great restaurants, so we showed up at the appointed place and time without discussion or complaint.
Dinner was unremarkable. Fixed menu rubber chicken fare. Perfectly adequate, just not the over-the-top good stuff we were used to Tom picking out. But the seminar given during dessert changed our lives. In less than sixty minutes, we were shown the simple outline of a financial plan to get us moving in a sustainable fashion toward a comfortable retirement. And afterward, Tom introduced us to the man who would be our agent for twenty years. Dave helped put us on our path to financial independence in 1994 and helped us make the adjustments along the way to keep us on it. And when I retired after twenty years of Navy service, he mentored me into the financial services business.
Among dozens of things Dave taught me over twenty years, two of them were critically important. One of them was the sort of product knowledge that got me credentialed and sufficiently competent to help others identify their own goals for financial independence. Far more important was the spirit of service he exemplified every day. Lots of people talk the “client always comes first” talk. Dave walked it, being just as candid with us when we were on track as when he thought we were getting ready to make a mistake. And we always felt his recommendations were in our best interests. It wasn’t just that his interests were secondary. They didn’t enter into the conversation at all. It was in that spirit that I got licensed in 2013 to help families plan for their own sustainable financial futures.