From the December 2008 issue of Investment Advisor • Subscribe!

December 1, 2008

A Lesson in Compassion

THIS MONTH'S HONOREE

  • The individual: Shannon Eusey The firm: Beacon Pointe Advisors The causes: National Network to End Domestic Violence, Miocean Found- ation, Girl Scouts of the U.S.A., and Young Presidents Organization The Web site: www.bpadvisors.com The motivation: To improve her community and teach compassion

"It's important to give back, especially in times like this when communities are suffering because of a lack of charitable contributions due to a difficult market," explains Shannon Eusey, co-founder, president, and CEO of Beacon Pointe Advisors, an Orange County, California fee-only wealth management firm overseeing more than $4 billion in assets for institutional (foundations, hospitals, schools) and private client investors. Eusey also sits on the board of four nonprofits--The National Network to End Domestic Violence, The Miocean Foundation, The Girl Scouts of the United States of America, and The Young Presidents Organization--and is a wife and a mother to four children, all under the age of eight. When I sat down to talk with Eusey in early November, first I asked where she found the time to do what she does. She answered by saying it isn't so much about time as it is about compassion. "I try to teach my kids compassion. It's not taught as much now because I think people forget. I teach by showing them what it means to be compassionate."

More than ten years ago, Eusey was introduced to a victim of domestic violence by a friend. "The woman's husband had poured battery acid on her face and she needed her teeth done, but didn't have the means," Eusey recalls, still evidently disheartened by the situation, even after a decade. "My dentist took her on pro bono and I raised $100,000 from friends and family to set up a fund so she could get the medical attention she needed to heal her face." Because of her involvement with the woman, who wound up blind from the incident, Eusey was introduced to the National Network to End Domestic Violence (NNEDV), a social change organization dedicated to creating a social, political, and economic environment in which violence against women no longer exists. "I was asked to join the Board, and I've been serving in various capacities ever since--as board member, treasurer, and vice chairman." In fact, she's been serving the organization for 10 years, her longest stint as a board member of the four organizations she supports.

A Local Cause

Eusey's role in a local nonprofit for the past four years is her second longest. As a resident of Southern California since childhood, Eusey is concerned about the local waters. "I am passionate about the oceans and I want a safe place for my kids to swim," she says. To do her part in making sure these waters are looked after, Eusey sits on the Board of Directors for Orange County's Miocean Foundation, a nonprofit foundation that was created in 2001 when one of its co-founders was hospitalized with a serious bacterial infection after surfing in the coastal waters of Southern California. The Foundation recently completed its first project, a $1.2 million filtration system at Doheny State Beach in Dana Point, and is now focusing its efforts on building a filtration system at Salt Creek in Dana Point.

Eusey's involvement in (NNEDV) and Miocean are a result of her passion to end domestic violence and clean her local waters, though, as evidenced by her successful firm, she is also passionate about business and investing. That's what landed her a role on two other boards. "Because of my investment background I was asked to be on the board for the Girl Scouts of America," Eusey says. This is her third year on the board, where she sits on the investment committee. "I provide a level of knowledge they wouldn't otherwise have. I help them with their portfolio decisions," she notes. "Often the board doesn't know the right questions to ask because they are not in the business." The Young Presidents Organization (YPO), a national business development group created to help business owners, presidents, and CEOs become better business leaders, is another group that benefits from Eusey's business background. YPOers learn from their peers, exchange ideas, ask for advice, and share best practices. She's served as treasurer of the group's local board for the past three years.

Making a Difference

"If I can clean part of my ocean, or save one woman from domestic violence, or the Girl Scouts teach a young woman something she wouldn't have known if it wasn't for the organization, then my work has made a difference and it was worth it," Eusey says of her efforts.

Her advice for advisors looking to give back begins with figuring out what you're passionate about. "If you're not passionate about the work, you can't give as much as you have the ability to give," she says. For those that have trouble finding a charity or cause to support, Eusey recommends starting at your local community foundation. "They have vast resources and the organizations they work with have been vetted--they also know who needs the most help."

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