25 Days of RDFA

Day One

It's hard for me to believe, but we will soon be celebrating the 25th anniversary of our opening the doors of Ritter Daniher Financial Advisory.  To commemorate this, I'll be sending an email once a day over the next 25 days highlighting something from our history.  All of us at RDFA hope you enjoy this retrospective!

For this first email, we'll simply start with the new logo that we'll be temporarily using.

We hope you enjoy this 25 day retrospective of our first 25 years.  We'll be back with our normal content (Monday Morning Missive and RDFA Release) after our July 23rd anniversary.

Day Two

For the second post of the "25 Days of RDFA" I'd like to highlight the best decision we ever made as a company, and that was adding our first employee on July 1, 2000.  We have been exceptionally fortunate to share nearly this entire journey with Ronda Koehler.  She's been an invaluable part of our team, and we truly couldn't have done it without her.

Ronda started in an administrative role with the firm, but we all quickly realized she would be a fantastic financial planner.  We suggested she take the first stage of the CFP education track just to broaden her knowledge.  After she passed it we suggested she take the second stage to increase her investments acumen.  After sailing through that one we said "Well, you're 40% through the overall coursework - you might as well do the whole thing!"

She earned the CFP designation in 2005.

Day Three

Here's our first company brochure from back in 2001.

Jeff with the first touches of grey hair, and me without any grey!  Man, how times have changed.....

Day Four

For day 4 of the "25 Days of RDFA" I'll remind folks that we've been in four different office locations since our founding.  We started in a SMALL office on State Road and were there from 1999-2004.  We then moved to the next building up the hillside and were there from 2004-2012.

We made our only venture outside of Anderson Township with our move to Columbia/Tusculum in 2012.  We were then fortunate enough to be able to move to our current office location, back in Anderson, in April of 2018.

As I think back about the offices, one story comes to mind.  I was at the airport heading off to a meeting, and called back to the office.  All I got was a frantic voice on the other end saying "Can't talk!  There's water everywhere!"  While getting new carpet installed, the installer hit a pipe with the tack strip and water came flooding in.  Keep in mind, we were in the unit above an eye doctor, so gravity took over and water started running into his office.  And right onto one of his exam machines...

Thank goodness for insurance.

Day Five

Many may not know that we have done A LOT of public speaking at conferences through the years.  One of the more impactful presentations we ever gave was at the TD Ameritrade National Conference in 2006.  We actually followed a keynote presentation by George H.W. Bush, which made for large shoes to fill.  You'll have to ask us about being accosted by a Secret Service Agent as we left the President's presentation to race to our breakout room...unbeknownst to us, a reporter from Investment News was in the audience and highlighted our presentation.  You can read the piece by clicking  on this link:  Investment News   

Day Six

First, I hope you are having a wonderful 4th of July holiday.

For day 6 of our company retrospective, I wanted to mention the professional association that we've spent a great deal of time in.  The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) is the leading association of Fee-Only financial advisors in the country.

We've volunteered within NAPFA in many capacities.  I've been on the National Board (2009-2012), chaired the Public Policy Committee (2011-2013) and have remained on the committee since then, and have been the head of the Ethics Committee since 2015.  Jeff was a faculty member of the NAPFA University School of Estate Planning from 2007-2014, has been on the Compensation Committee since 2015, and recently started a term on the NAPFA Midwest Board of Directors.

NAPFA has been our professional "home" since we joined in 2003, and continues to be very important to us.

Day Seven

This will always go down as one of the most unforgettable moments for our company.  After winning the Greater Cincinnati BBB Torch Award for Marketplace Ethics in 2006, we were encouraged to apply for the International Torch Awards.  Being Fee-Only and a Fiduciary was very much in its infancy, and our message was being heard as a better alternative to the commission-based advisors that were the norm.  But come on, the International Torch Awards?

Well, sometimes you have to take the chance and see what happens.  The result was being one of two firms selected in 2008, with the other being CarMax.  I still laugh over the fact that they had 5000 employees, and our head count had just increased to 5!

I can tell you that we never dreamt of receiving an award at the National Press Club in Washington, DC.  Nor did we think we would be having a cocktail with Tim Russert and Senator Sam Brownback.  Surreal is probably the best word to describe that evening.  You can see a bit about the evening here:  2008 International Torch Awards  

Day Eight

We are now up to 2008 in our "25 Days of RDFA" retrospective, and likely a fact that you didn't know about our firm.  John, Jeff and Ronda Co-Chaired the 2008 NAPFA National Conference in Long Beach, CA.  That meant we were responsible for securing all of the educational content for the three day event.

One of the keynote presenters that we brought in was Sir Ken Robinson, and he delivered one of the single best presentations I've ever seen.  He was a speaker and international advisor on education in the arts, and focused his presentation on bringing creativity back to our jobs.

When you have about 12 minutes to spare, I'd encourage you to watch this animated presentation from Sir Ken, which is titled  Changing Education Paradigms  

Day Nine

When you've been in the financial business for 25 years, you've lived through some stock market ups and downs.  But I'm not sure we will ever forget the Great Recession, and the market downturn in late 2008.  From peak to trough, the market went down just over 50%.  Lehman Brothers failed.  The housing market crashed.  And capitalism was seriously being called into question.

I'll never forget one client saying he wouldn't live long enough to ever recover from the losses (on paper) from that downturn.  He's still a client to this day, and we have talked about how the market is SIGNIFICANTLY higher today.  It's just hard to have faith when you are in the middle of those moments.

Little known fact:  The low trade on the S&P 500 at the bottom of the market in March of 2009 was $666.  The mark of the devil.  We all should have known that was the bottom, right?!?

Day Ten

In 2010 we completed the first of two mergers of firms into Ritter Daniher.  Greg Busch merged his firm, Clarus Financial, into ours at the beginning of the year.  Greg remained with us until his retirement at the end of 2018, and was a huge part of our team.

One of the best byproducts of this merger was that Lori Smith joined us at that time, and is still with us today.  She is both our Operations Manager and a Financial Paraplanner working with many of our clients.  It's hard to believe that she's been with us for more than 14 years!

Day Eleven

We've been fortunate to have some cool opportunities to be quoted in publications through the years.   We've appeared multiple times in magazines such as Financial Advisor, Financial Planning, Investment News and the Business Courier.  One of my all time favorites is when I had the good fortune to fly to New York City for an in-person interview with the Wall Street Journal.  You can find the whole article here: WSJ 2010 

Prior to the interview, I was able to have dinner and catch a Broadway show with my colleague, Cheryl Holland.  We saw the Green Day musical American Idiot, and it was 90 minutes with no intermission.  Cheryl remarked afterwards that I leaned forward during the first song and never moved the whole time.  That show remains in my top five of any musical performances I've seen.

Day Twelve

For this 12th edition of "25 Days of RDFA" we've reached 2012, which we should call our year of growth.  In January, Lora Anstaett joined us.  Leanne Bernard followed in July.  And Michele Daniher came on board in August.

Late in the year we merged in our second firm, Yerkes Financial, and saw our head count go up by two with Matt Yerkes and Michele Heckle.  Matt retired the next year, but Michele is still with us and coming up on her 12th anniversary with the firm.

Lora is now in the CFP program and hopes to gain the designation in 2025.  Michele Heckle is a Financial Paraplanner and works very closely with Jeff Daniher.  Michele Daniher obtained the CFP mark in 2016 and is a lead advisor for many of our clients.  Leanne is my "right hand" as our Business and Marketing Manager.

Day Thirteen

Lucky number 13.  I'm definitely not a person that suffers from triskaidekaphobia -  fear of the number 13.  In fact, 13 is a very lucky and present number in our family.

For this 13th edition of "25 Days of RDFA" I wanted to shine a light on something that we have been fighting for most of our 25 years in business.  And that is trying to mandate a Fiduciary Standard for all that practice as financial advisors.  It should seem obvious that an advisor be legally obligated to put your best interest first in all dealings with you.  While it is more common now than it used to be, it still isn't as widespread as it should be.

We have spoken and written about this topic countless times.  We've been known to jump up on our soapbox and preach about it, and we've taken some arrows from those on the other side of this debate.  Our hope is that one day this industry will be seen as a true, respected profession by all, and we are getting closer and closer all the time.

Here's one such article about this topic: Fight On

Day Fourteen

One of the most fun parts of our job is when we are able to host a client event.  Our very first one was a small wine tasting at the former Chateau Pomije in Obryonville.  We've done other wine and/or beer tastings, a Graeter's cruise at Tall Stacks, a chili cookoff while watching the Bengals, and a tour of the Cincinnati exhibit at Union Terminal, among others.

Below are pictures from a few of our favorite events.  We just had our third Shred-it event last month.  The American Sign Museum is one of the hidden gems in town, and clients loved it.  The Reds Hall of Fame and Museum was the perfect place for an event, and certainly played to the love of baseball that many of us have.

The final picture below is of Bill Kanengiser, who has performed for us twice.  A Grammy winner, and known as one of the USA's top classical guitarists, Bill has graciously agreed to perform for us once again on Friday, October 11th for our 25th Anniversary celebration.  We hope you'll be able to attend!

Day Fifteen

I earlier mentioned how we have been very engaged with our professional association through the years.  NAPFA, the National Association of Personal Financial Advisors, has been our professional home since 2003, and we are still quite involved to this day in many capacities.

One personal moment of pride is when I was named to the list of NAPFA's 30 Most Influential Members of the First 30 Years.  This likely should have been a company based honor since Jeff and Ronda had also done so much for the organization.

Looking at the cover photo from the announcement, I'm struck by how many of the other recipients are colleagues that I still talk and email with to this day.  One of them runs the financial planning degree program at Western Kentucky University, and introduced us to one of our two interns this summer, Kaylie Wise (pictured below).

You can read about the honor here:  30 Most Influential

Day Sixteen

A sincere benefit of being in this business is the opportunity to get involved with non-profit groups that are near and dear to us.  We've been able to use our "time, talent and treasure" to assist with multiple groups as they work to fulfill their charitable missions.

Below, you'll see a few of these groups that we are passionate about.  Each of them holds a special place with us, and we have been fortunate to be able to work with them.