When told in an April interview that the 14th edition of the IA 25 was meant to honor influential people in the advisor community that were a bit “under the radar,” Chris Paulitz of the Financial Services Institute responded quickly. “Under the radar? That’s the way I like it.” And when told he was being honored for his individual accomplishements, he demurred. “I can’t take a compliment” comfortably, he said, owing to having “grown up in Youngstown, Ohio.”
The face of FSI is clearly Dale Brown, who’s appeared on the IA 25 list nine times out of the 14 years the list has been published. Then there’s David Bellaire, the group’s soft-spoken but tough minded general counsel. Or perhaps it’s one of the broker-dealer leaders who have held volunteer leadership positions at the association over the years, typified by current chair and Cambridge Investment Research President Amy Webber.
But there’s been another consistent, knowledgeable and effective force at FSI. Paulitz, senior vice president of membership and marketing, is quietly influential as the head of membership, sponsorship, marketing, communications, media and events for FSI. He started his career as a journalist, and among the media, he’s known as an easy-going, insightful PR pro who’s clearly an advocate while remaining respectful of journalists’ different mandates.
In his position at FSI, which he joined in 2011, there can be different ways of measuring success, but the numbers tell the story for Paulitz: the growth of FSI’s individual and corporate membership, its successful live events for BD executives and advisors and, most important for an advocacy group, its waxing influence in Washington.
Having spent nearly 11 years on Capitol Hill as a communications advisor and director for two senators, Paulitz knows that the most important metric for someone in his position is not which bills or DOL regulations get passed, but to whom you have access. Measured that way, Paulitz is successful and influential.
So what does Paulitz himself cite for his success? He starts with FSI’s relatively small staff of 30 people — “when I started we had 10” — who work “really hard” in a “very strong culture” where “we don’t have infighting,” exhibiting a “professional yet close-knit” community. He said Brown, FSI’s president and CEO, “is highly focused on the culture here,” which takes the form of great member service. “We don’t take any of our members for granted; they all know we’re working for them. When they ask for something — large or small, BD or individual member — those requests don’t sit in an inbox.”