Before joining FFP in 1992, Keith was admittedly “involved in an exciting, but unchallenging career”. It was at this time that he met a Certified Public Accountant (CPA) with an established financial-planning office who was looking for someone he could trust to help him grow the business.
Keith describes himself as “a handy guy who likes to dismantle things to see how they work.” Early in his career he spent a lot of time studying the financial-advisory business, trying to understand how it could work in his clients’ best interest. When he began working in the CPA office the main goal was to assist tax clients with each aspect of their financial lives. The CPA had been referring clients to other so-called advisors, many of whom had done what was in their best interests and not in the best interest of the client(s).
It was not long before Keith realized the value of being able to provide unbiased, independent advice. “Clients aren’t numbers,” he says. “They’re people just like me and my family. I go the so-called extra mile for my clients because I love what I do. When my clients succeed, I succeed which is why it is imperative that I have an unobstructed view into their lives.” While today Keith can speak from 20+ years of financial-advisory experience, whether it’s protecting a family, educating children, retirement planning or helping an elderly relative, he takes the time to understand his clients’ position before putting a plan into place. But doing the right thing isn’t always as easy as it sounds.
Keith, who likes to explain financial plans in “real world” terms, recalls a day when a couple called for financial advice. They had two young children, including one with a physical disability. The wife was fighting cancer for the second time and was not sure what her outcome would be as she was undergoing a new treatment. Upon gathering their information and seeing what their previous advisor had done, Keith’s eyes were opened to the fact that it’s everyday people who often need objective assistance. “If I hadn’t taken the time to listen,” recalls Keith, “I would not have been able to relate to all of their needs and build the comprehensive plan they needed. This is true for the young and old, the rich and poor.”
According to Keith, if he had to describe the culture at FFP in one word, “family” would be it. “This is a family-run business and our goal is to assist families. That’s why clients choose to do business with us.” The second would be “trust.” “I have never underestimated the amount of trust people have given me. I work hard to gain it, so I work hard to keep it.”
Despite a successful career, Keith is quick to point out that his success is mostly due to his lifetime love, his wife Gerri, she has been a true partner and supporter of his career. Regardless of everything else, he says his greatest joy has come from raising his three children. Gabrielle, his eldest, is presently enrolling in graduate school. Daughter Victoria is enrolled at Rutgers University. His son Kyle attends Saint Peter’s Preparatory School. “The fun they have shown me over the years has created a lifetime of memories. Seeing the world through their eyes makes every day fun for me.”