“I enjoy the ability and opportunity to visit a client’s business and to appreciate their expertise, their devotion and pride in what they want to achieve, what it takes to get there and retain it – and then to create a wealth management plan designed to preserve it,” said Russ.
Having lived primarily in Kansas City and Chicago through his formative years, Russ brings a strong foundation of Midwestern values to his wealth management practice and the community. “The ‘grind it out and get it done’ work ethic was part of my daily life as a child and carries through to this day,” Russ said.
Russ holds several professional designations including Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®), Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor (CPFA), and Accredited Asset Management Specialist℠ (AAMS®), among others. “I have and will continue to be a student of the industry. Even with 30+ years in the industry, I continue to learn and pursue professional designations within the field.
In 2005, Russ transitioned to Raymond James. “As our practice grew and the complexity of our services expanded, including acquiring an international clientele, we were in need of a firm with a deep bench of resources and which emboldened our ‘client-first’ approach,” Russ said. “The open architecture at Raymond James allows us the freedom to understand each client’s needs, and to design and implement a wealth plan, including the ability to seek out the ‘best at position’ investment on a largely nonproprietary basis.”
Russ has served many nonprofit organizations throughout his career. He was co-founder and board chair of Oakstone Academy Palm Beach, committee chair of the Special Needs Children’s Ministry, member of the finance committee of Ascension Catholic Church in Boca Raton, Florida, and an instructor with the State of Kansas Department of Wildlife and Parks.
Russ and his wife, Anamaria, live in South Florida with their three children. In his free time, Russ enjoys reading about American History, including the Lewis and Clark expedition, Native American history, the settling of the American West, World War II, the OODA Loop and space exploration. He also enjoys cooking, specifically barbecue, smoked brisket, slow-cooked ribs, and pulled pork (a point of Kansas City pride).
Q. What can you tell us about your approach?
Our long-standing motto is “Objective Consultations. Comprehensive Solutions.” We have long operated in the best interest of each and every client. Our management of a client’s wealth plan is ‘client-first’ and solutions-based. We do not embrace a culture or environment of quotas, product requirements or mandated proprietary products. Our client service model is adjusted to individual client needs.
Q. Why do you prefer the term “work-optional lifestyle” to “retirement”?
While many people use the word “retire” to signify an end to their career, we have long seen the idea of a “work-optional lifestyle” as a mark of success with clients. Our goal is achieved when a client wakes up each day and is financially able to view work as an option rather than an obligation. We find that “work-optional” is much more rewarding and fulfilling for the client and their family.
Q. How do you determine if there is a mutual good fit between you and a prospective client?
When introduced to a prospective client, whether it be a business owner or a professional, I ask myself two primary questions: Are they coachable? Can I add value? In a symbiotic relationship where I can answer “yes” to both of these questions, the mutual creativity and design of their wealth management plan becomes much more dynamic and rewarding, whether it’s the monetizing of their business via an exit strategy, merging with a business partner, or even integrating the next generation to run the family business.
Q. You said that having a curious mind is a trait your clients find valuable. How so?
Having a curious mindset allows that added degree of alertness and inquisitiveness when planning with a client. Louis Pasteur was credited with the quote, “Chance favors the prepared mind.” The broader your base of knowledge and the more diverse your experiences, the better your ability to identify and understand a situation or desired outcome. This is a win-win for both the client and myself as our conversations and planning are more comprehensive and we keep the lines of communication open.
Q. You also mentioned that your eclectic experiences are something your clients find valuable. How so?
I am able to empathize with a diverse group of business owners and professionals as I held a wide-ranging list of jobs as a kid. I have taken on jobs and tasks ranging from after-school paper routes, mowing lawns and shoveling driveways, laborer on a construction crew, restaurant busboy, summer apprentice with an electrical union for data and telephony installations, call center associate at a major insurance company, golf “Honor Caddy,” grocery store cashier, hay bailing, barn mucking, and hardware store stock boy … Those are just some that come to mind. Where I grew up, you were either working or getting ready for work.
My time as a golf “Honor Caddy” during my summers in Chicago exposed me to a number of successful business owners and professionals, each with their own career track and areas of interest. When you’re double-looping as a caddy, six days a week, 36 holes per day, you can’t help but observe, listen to and learn from a broad range of successful business people. Being a golf caddy was one of the best things I ever did. Reflecting upon that time, my interest was truly in the openness and creativity that being a business owner or professional allows.
Q. What’s one thing that might surprise others about you?
My interests during college included a career track toward being an FBI agent. During my senior year, I changed my career path to financial planning and have never looked back.
Q.What is your favorite kind of trip? Why?
I always enjoy learning about people’s cultures and traveling to experience them for myself. My wife is from Peru and we enjoy traveling to see family and exploring the area. Kiev, Ukraine, was also a great trip which is filled with history, including the Cold War.
My personal goals include visiting two places. First, a one-month sabbatical in Normandy, France, to immerse myself in the history related to D-Day. Second, a trip through the Baja Peninsula in a dune buggy with my wife and children.
Q. What places have you lived in?
My childhood was split primarily between the Kansas City area and Chicago. My family moved somewhat frequently as my parents were promoted and reassigned. Growing up, I would always say, “Home is wherever your toothbrush is.” Our family had multiple back and forth relocations, ranging from Jefferson City, Missouri, to Fort Dodge, Iowa, to the Chicago and Kansas City areas.
As an adult, I relocated to the Palm Beach, Florida, area in 1994 when the company gave me the choice of any office in the country. I had never really spent much time east of the Mississippi River and Florida sounded like a pretty good option. Everything I owned at the time fit into my car and I drove down Memorial Day weekend, 1994. I met the lady of my life on Veterans Day 1994, married, had three children, and continue to happily raise a family and work in Boca Raton, Florida.
Accredited Asset Management Specialist℠ (AAMS®) and Chartered Mutual Fund Counselor℠ (CMFC®) are trademarks of the College for Financial Planning in the United States and/or other countries.
Raymond James is not affiliated with the above organizations and/or charitable causes.