Greg Hammond and Scott Iles are in for the long haul. They are relatively young for senior advisors – both are 38 years old – but the age factor has not at all hindered their clients’ confidence in their abilities. Rather, it has tended to give clients peace of mind that Hammond and Iles will be around to see the retirement plans they put together through to fruition.
Hammond and Iles are partners in Kelly Financial Group LLC, a non-proprietary investment company with a staff of 10 based out of Weatherfield, Conn., with branch offices in Old Lyme and Woodbridge, Conn. In January 2005, Hammond and Iles purchased the company from Walter J. Kelly, who founded the company in 1984.
The transition has been seamless, as they have continued to build the hybrid practice with a current roster of about 1,200 clients between all three offices. As of last November, they had brought in about $25 million in new assets to the firm in 2006. Out of that, $11 million was in their management program with no-load mutual funds, $3.5 million was using non-traded rates and the other $10.5 million was using annuities. In 2005, they did $13 million in annuities and added $8.5 million to their managed money accounts.
Hammond, who lives in West Hartford, Conn., serves as president and chief compliance officer. He is a CPA and CFP and specializes in analysis, mutual funds, taxation, and financial planning. Iles, who lives in Wolcott, Conn., is the vice president, specializing in retirement planning, Medicare benefits, investments, and life insurance. Both are registered reps.
While they have only known each other for about five years, the two have much more than their age in common. Both are married and have two children (Iles 11- and 4-year-old boys; Hammond 9- and 6-year-old girls) and both say spending quality time with their families is their No. 1 priority. Along those lines, they generally put in between 45 and 60 hours per week but try to work little on weekends. That leaves time for Iles to coach his kids’ sports teams and the occasional golf or fishing outing, while Hammond enjoys golf and tennis and is heavily involved in his church.
SMA: How did the two of you first get together?
GH: Basically, as my role in the company was expanding – I was moving up the ladder with Intelix Financial Group – I had to, at that time, hire somebody to replace me. I placed an ad and interviewed Scott and we hit it off well at the beginning and we’ve made a good team. He’s been with me ever since.
SMA: I understand that when you bought the company in January 2005 you managed to retain every single client, even with the transition. That seems like a pretty impressive feat.
SI: We were thrilled with that. Part of the reason is that most of our clients already had a relationship with Greg and me. Throughout the years, we were in a lot of meetings with Mr. Kelly. We were really learning from him how to approach our clients and how to help them out. He put a lot of responsibility on our shoulders so that when he pulled away and we took over, [clients] were more than thrilled to keep that relationship with someone they knew. They knew that we knew everything about them already.
GH: The transition was very seamless. You didn’t notice a change in the firm or the way that we serviced our clients.
SMA: You each have different areas of expertise. Can you tell us a little bit about how this works to the advantage of the partnership?
GH: I think both of us bring very strong expertise to the table. With my accounting background, certainly from a tax standpoint, I bring a lot of strength with that knowledge and experience to the table. I think my analytical nature provides well, in that I supervise our management program, so our selection of investments and mutual funds and the management portfolio fall in my duties. Scott complements that well with his banking and insurance experience. He brings to the table areas that I’m not as strong at that he excels at. His life insurance and his back-office banking experience provide us a lot of competency, especially when you are competing against banks that are taking on more and more roles in financial planning and are expanding their roles.
SI: The financial services industry is changing so much in that everyone is trying to get into the investment world. Knowing how banks go after prospective customers – and that’s how they categorize customers – helps us a lot because most of the time the bank is just trying to sell something. They’re not trying to manage a relationship with that person.
SMA: You both are a few years shy of your 40th birthdays? Has your relative youth presented any challenges in working with seniors?
SI: I have to say it really hasn’t. I believe that it’s actually an asset. Our clients come into this knowing this is going to be a long-term relationship, and the fact that we’re not 40 yet basically indicates to them that we’re going to be here for a long time. They’re not going to have to worry about us retiring or, God forbid, dying anytime soon, so they won’t have to be shopping around for another advisor because of it. We do have a lot of experience and we’re not fresh out of college. We’ve been working at this for quite some time. I think our approach and our plans speak for themselves.
GH: As Scott was saying, I think the strong point is that we’re not only able to put together a retirement plan, but we have the longevity in our careers to basically see it through to fruition. They don’t want to put together a plan and then have their advisor retire in the middle of it where they totally have to shift gears to another advisor.