My History in Finance: The Queen Arrives

Personal Money Planning |

By Gary Silverman, CFP®

In last week’s episode of the history of Personal Money Planning, the firm I started 30 years ago, I mentioned my first full-time hire, Michelle Kuehner. At work, I call her the queen, though sadly, no one calls me the king. While I was still teaching college, she took my class. I’ll let her tell the story. This is an excerpt (edited) from a piece she wrote to our clients…

“This year marks the eighteenth anniversary of my joining Gary as his first full-time employee. This started as a complete surprise. 

Having worked in the banking profession for twelve years, I felt there was something missing. I mean, I enjoyed helping people with their finances, but it seemed more of a transactional relationship than an ongoing one. It was not often (more like never) someone came in for a vehicle loan and ended up discussing cash flow needs and retirement plans. Realizing the individual “transactional” acts should be treated as a whole prompted me to pursue more education in the field. 

In appears Gary along with his Financial Management course I was taking to finish up my degree program. The interesting part was I didn’t even need to take his course. A friend of mine required it, and it sounded fascinating, so I took it as an elective. I found it intriguing enough to take him up on his offer of “if I were ever interested in a move” to give him a ring.

After meeting up a few times, and negotiating the details, I settled on his offer of the first full-time employee of Personal Money Planning. With this job offer came the fantastic advantages of, well none. I accepted less compensation, along with no medical insurance or retirement plan. I started on April Fool’s Day, which Gary had forgotten and was out of town at a conference. I believed the joke was on me. 

The laughs did not stop there, though. A few weeks later, the auditors from the Texas State Security Board arrived to perform their routine examination. While we passed with flying colors, things may have gone smoother if Gary hadn’t recently gone through an emergency appendectomy and had not even been released to come back to work. With him in sweatpants, and me sweating bullets, we pulled things together and pushed through.”

An inauspicious start, I have to say. But Michelle stuck with me and together we continued to grow the business. She grew too, never leaving the desire to learn behind. Last I looked, she has earned a “few” designations: Chartered Financial Consultant, Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor, Certified Educator in Personal Finance, Financial Paraplanner Qualified Professional, Accredited Domestic Partnership Advisor, Certified Financial Fiduciary, Certified Credit Counselor, and Certified Financial Health Counselor.

Let’s just say, I’m glad I offered her the job. These days she heads the company up as our President.

Next week we’ll look at life in a financial firm during a crisis.