The Definitive Voice of, and Advocate for, Florida Securities Firms and Investment Advisors for More Than 80 Years.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: KACY DONLON
MEET KACY DONLON OF FSDA CORPORATE MEMBER, WIAND GUERRA KING P.A., AND THE INCOMING FSDA PRESIDENT FOR 2020
We are speaking today with Kacy Donlon of Wiand Guerra King P.A., a law firm located in Tampa, Florida.
Kacy, please tell us about yourself.
I was born and raised in Birmingham, Alabama. I attended Birmingham-Southern College where I was fortunate to take study trips to Australia, China and Egypt, and also spent a summer studying at Oxford. This wanderlust led to a Rotary Scholarship to study at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland. after I graduated from college. After St. Andrews, I worked as a paralegal doing securities and insurance sales practice litigation. With that experience, my course was set. I attended Washington & Lee University School of Law where I was the Securities Editor for the Law Review. After law school, I clerked for U.S. District Court Senior Judge Seybourn Lynne in Birmingham.
After my clerkship, I started my legal practice in the fall of 1995 at Fowler White Boggs Banker in Tampa, representing broker-dealers in securities arbitrations and insurance companies in sales practice class actions. Several of my partners and I left Fowler White in 2009 and started Wiand Guerra King.
Tell us about your current legal practice and the types of clients that you represent.
The majority of my practice involves the representation of broker-dealer firms and their representatives in FINRA customer and employment arbitrations. This carries over to similar representation in dealing with SROs and state and federal regulators. Additionally, I represent businesses in commercial disputes in both state and federal courts.
Why is it important for Wiand Guerra King P.A., to be a member of the FSDA?
Wiand Guerra King’s main practice is commercial and white-collar litigation with a focus in the financial services industry. Given that the FSDA is the heartbeat for securities firms in the state of Florida, our affiliation with FSDA is a natural fit. FSDA allows our firm to collaborate with others in the industry to serve not just financial services firms but also the investing public through legislative efforts and public education.
I know that the lawyers in your firm are very involved locally in the Tampa Bay area. Please tell us about that involvement and your firm’s desire to give back to the community.
Our firm believes that it is imperative to give back to the community. We have chosen to do that through numerous organizations and initiatives. For years, our firm has been actively involved with the Epilepsy Services Foundation and the Children’s Dream Fund. Additionally, we encourage our attorneys and staff to follow their passions and support charities that help worthy causes.
Kacy, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: NEIL BARITZ
MEET NEIL BARITZ, ESQ. OF FSDA ADVISORY MEMBER BARITZ & COLMAN LLP.
We are speaking today with Neil Baritz of Baritz & Colman LLP, a law firm with offices in Boca Raton, Florida, and New York, New York.
Neil, please tell us a little bit about yourself
I was raised in Roslyn, New York, got my bachelor’s degree in political science and psychology at the University of Rochester and graduated from Brooklyn Law School in 1983. I founded Baritz & Colman LLP in 1996 after having practiced law in New York and Florida. I have spent my entire professional life in the financial services industry. My career began while I was in law school, working in EF Hutton’s Legal Department, where I became in-house counsel upon graduation. I then served as General Counsel to Ehrlich Bober & Company, a publicly traded broker-dealer and registered investment advisor. I moved my family to Florida in 1993, where I worked for two well-known South Florida law firms handling securities arbitration and litigation, before joining one of my clients as the firm’s in-house corporate securities and litigation counsel. In 1996, Baritz & Colman opened its doors for business, where my primary focus has been on the financial services industry.
Tell us a little about your current legal practice and the types of clients that you represent.
My practice is almost entirely focused on the financial services industry. We represent broker-dealers, registered investment advisors, clearing and custodial firms, and their respective associated personnel. I am regularly engaged in matters ranging from entity formation and registration to arbitration and litigation, and from employment to regulatory matters. On behalf of the Firm’s clients, I have represented the industry and its associated persons before AAA and FINRA arbitration panels, state and federal regulators (including Florida’s Office of Financial Regulation, the SEC, and FINRA) throughout the country. On the broker-dealer side, our clients include full-service and discount firms, large and small, and on the investment advisory side, we represent newly formed entities at their inception as well as established firms with multi-billion dollars under management. Part and parcel to both the broker-dealer and investment advisory aspects of our practice, we are regularly engaged to assist our clients with ever increasing licensing and registration challenges. Because of the breadth of our financial services practice, I am regularly asked to present at client and industry conferences around the country, principally in the area of best practices.
How does Baritz & Colman’s New York Office fit into the picture?
While Florida has been home for almost 27 years, I confess to being a New Yorker and remain a diehard Giants fan. On the business side, we have found that whether it’s on the financial services front or in the context of our other practice areas (real estate, corporate, commercial litigation and trust and estates), it’s a perfect fit. Our New York team perfectly complements our Florida business and adds depth to what we are able to offer our clients and collaborative solutions to their challenges.
Why is it important for Baritz & Colman to be a member of the FSDA?
Alex Sarafoglu “recruited” me several years ago, telling me that I needed to get involved with FSDA – and he was right. Since joining, I have found the work that FSDA does, be it education, outreach, or industry advocacy, to be first-rate and committed. For the last several years, I have chaired the Education Committee where I have been involved with a committed team in presenting topical agendas with highly regarded experts in their respective fields. What I find most rewarding about FSDA is its collegiality and the shared goal of advancing industry objectives, while providing education to our membership as well as the public-at-large.
I know that the lawyers in your firm are very involved locally in Boca Raton. Please tell us a little bit about that involvement.
Yes. Our lawyers are involved both at the civic and the charitable levels. One of our lawyers is an elected member of the Boca Raton City Council, while other members are very active with organizations like the local Chamber of Commerce and the Florida Association of Women Lawyers, to name a few. My family and I are very involved with the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, one of the most highly regarded such organizations in the country. Through the Federation, we do great work in both local and international arenas. Our particular interest is providing a “safety net” to the community where essential services are not otherwise available or its needs met. To say it’s rewarding is an understatement!
Neil, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: JOHN PEACOCK
MEET JOHN PEACOCK OF FSDA CORPORATE MEMBER, EDWARD JONES.
We are speaking today with John Peacock of Edward Jones.
John, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was raised outside of Philadelphia, PA. I attended college at Excelsior College and earned a BS in Liberal Arts. I joined the U.S. Navy out of high school and served 8 years in the Nuclear Power Program. I worked as a consultant to the Department of Energy before joining Edward Jones in 1995. I was working on my Nuclear Technology degree when I switched careers and joined Edward Jones.
Tell us a little about your career with Edward Jones.
I joined Edward Jones in 1995. I was a single parent with full custody of my 3 sons. I moved to Pensacola to open an Edward Jones office and didn’t know anyone in the area. The training and support provided by Edward Jones allowed me to build my practice and still have time to be a full-time father. Today I manage a successful branch and have a great team of 3 Branch Office Administrators.
What is a typical business day for you at your office in Pensacola?
We focus primarily on the holistic side of financial services. A typical day would be anywhere from 4-6 appointments with return and proactive phone calls in between appointments. My branch team schedules and prepares the information necessary for me to deliver a very focused client-centric experience for the client during the appointment.
I notice that you emphasize saving for college as part of your financial advice. What is the most important rule for grandparents, parents or students to remember in regard to saving for college?
Many of our clients want to provide financial assistance to children or grandchildren for their postsecondary educations. Since it is important that parents and grandparents first have enough assets to accomplish their goals and dreams, we try to make sure that college planning is part of the overall financial picture, rather than a primary objective.
Why is it important for Edward Jones to be a member of the FSDA?
It is important for Edward Jones to be an industry partner and have a voice at the table. We have a very effective Grassroots Task Force that focuses on lobbying Congress on behalf of our clients. The FSDA is a natural extension of this process at the state level.
I know that you are very involved with charitable organizations in Pensacola. Please tell us a little bit about your involvement.
Pensacola has been very good to me. Part of the Edward Jones philosophy is to get involved in the community in which you work and live. I have served on a vast majority of the non-profit boards in town and we sponsor a large amount of charitable functions. I lost a son 19 years ago and this year we will have the 18th Annual Panhandle Charitable Open in his memory. To date, this charitable golf outing has raised over $1.4 million for a variety of charities in the Pensacola area.
John, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: MICHAEL UNDERWOOD
MEET R. MICHAEL UNDERWOOD OF FSDA CORPORATE MEMBER, BUCHANAN INGERSOLL & ROONEY P.C.
We are speaking today with Mike Underwood of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney P.C., in its Tallahassee, Florida office.
Mike, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I was born in Tennessee and spent summers there, but I was raised on the Florida Space Coast, graduating from Satellite High School in Satellite Beach in 1968. I avoided the draft by dumb luck, worked briefly on the Apollo moon launch program and edited an underground newspaper before enrolling at USF in Tampa. From there, I transferred to the University at Buffalo to earn a degree in philosophy. In large part due to the influence of the Watergate hearings, I decided to go to law school and managed to get in-state tuition at the University of Tennessee in Knoxville. Through law school, I worked part-time for a title insurance company, assisted a law professor to write a new judicial article for the Tennessee Constitution and served as Research Editor of the Tennessee Law Review. After graduation, I returned to Florida and was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1980.
Tell us a little about your experience with the predecessor to the Florida Office of Financial Regulation.
The predecessor of OFR was the Office of the State Comptroller, also known as the Florida Department of Banking and Finance. Both the Cabinet position of Comptroller and the Department were abolished in 2002, replaced respectively by the Florida CFO and the Department of Financial Services, of which OFR is an autonomous unit headed by the Governor and Cabinet. From 1982 through 1990, I served Comptroller Gerald Lewis as Deputy General Counsel and Chief Legislative Counsel. In these positions, I prosecuted oil and gas fraud cases in Florida, served as counsel to a Task Force on Securities Regulation chaired by former Governor Rubin Askew and wrote many statutes and rules applicable to banking, securities and consumer finance. I was additionally appointed by Attorney General Jim Smith as a Special Assistant Attorney General to appear for the state twice in the U. S. Supreme Court.
I became Of Counsel to Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC in 2014 when it combined with Fowler White Boggs where I was a shareholder. Today I work in the firm’s Litigation practice, chiefly in administrative law, representing business clients before government. I also serve in the Firm’s Blockchain Practice Group and Financial Services Industry Group. My clients include broker-dealers, investment advisers and their associated persons as well as banks, insurers and financial technology firms. I appear before OFR, FINRA, SEC, FinCEN, OCC, the Federal Reserve Board and other state and federal regulators.
Why is it important for Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney P.C. to be a member of the FSDA?
I have been a member of FSDA for approaching thirty years and a member of its Board of Governors for a dozen years. Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney succeeded Fowler White Boggs as a corporate member. Since the merger in 2014, senior partners of the firm like Hala Sandridge and Stan Yorsz have taken part in FSDA events. We regard these as networking opportunities, keeping up with the current and potential clients and staying informed about issues of concern to the industry we serve.
I know that you are very involved with Big Bend Cares in Tallahassee. Please tell us a little bit about this organization and your involvement.
Big Bend Cares is a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency that provides education and comprehensive support to people infected with or affected by HIV/AIDS. It serves the mainly rural eight-county area surrounding Tallahassee in the Florida Panhandle. My wife, Zilpha, has been a volunteer at Big Bend Cares for many years and a few years ago, after a career in journalism, joined the staff. During the holiday season, the Tallahassee office of Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney adopts a family served by Big Bend Cares to donate gifts through its Holiday Angels program. In this photo our conference room was filled with presents for a family with five children ages 5 to 14 whose dark and difficult holiday was, we hope, brightened by our efforts.
Mike, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.
This month’s Member Spotlight is Jodi Perry, Raymond James Financial
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: JODI PERRY
MEET JODI PERRY OF FSDA INSTITUTIONAL MEMBER, RAYMOND JAMES FINANCIAL.
We are speaking today with Jodi Perry of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc.
Jodi, please tell us a little bit about yourself.I was raised in St. Petersburg, Florida; went to college at Eckerd College; and worked for a small local accounting firm before joining Raymond James.
Tell us a little about your career with Raymond James Financial.I’ve been with Raymond James for more than 25 years. I started in an operational area (one that no longer exists, thanks to technology), and then moved into sales with our asset management group after a few years, selling fee based products to our financial advisors. Enjoying the sales process, I moved into recruiting for about a decade to work with financial advisors who were interested in leaving their firms to join Raymond James. I then moved in regional management where I was responsible for a seven-state region with nearly 350 offices. Last year, I moved into my current role as president of the independent contractor division. Time has flown by because I’ve had so many opportunities within the firm, and have had the chance to lead multiple teams in each of my prior positions, which is one of my favorite things to do.
What is the typical business day for the President/Independent Contractor Division at Raymond James Financial Services?It varies, which keeps it exciting. I might meet with our advisors, meet with advisors from other firms who have expressed an interest in joining Raymond James, travel to offices or attend industry conferences. Sometimes I meet with various Raymond James departments regarding products, services, technology or new regulations. Never a dull moment!
Why is it important for Raymond James Financial to be a member of the FSDA?In a word - advocacy. As a financial institution based in Florida, the FSDA represents the industry in regulatory and legislative matters. I’ve had the opportunity to lobby for important industry-related bills in Tallahassee alongside other regional and national firms. Knowing I can impact the industry positively is gratifying to me as an industry professional. I also enjoy the outreach programs – whether it’s educating young people on financial literacy, the elderly on potential scams, or educating children on the dangers of certain cyber activity, the FSDA members work for the good of both investors and the industry.
I know that you are very involved with a charitable organization. Please tell us a little bit about this organization and your involvement.I sit on the Board of the St. Petersburg Free Clinic. I started volunteering there some time ago and was thrilled to be invited to sit on the board. The free clinic first started, as the name would indicate, as a clinic for healthcare for those who couldn’t afford it in underserved communities. Eventually, it grew into the addition of a food bank that provides food to families, the elderly, and my favorite program, “Pack a Sack,” which provides food for children each Friday who might not otherwise have food to eat on the weekends during the school year. The clinic also has a men’s residence, a women’s residence and a family residence. Being involved in an organization that specializes in providing basic human needs – healthcare, food and shelter is extraordinarily meaningful to me.
Jodi, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT: KEN CERRUTO
MEET KEN CERRUTO OF FSDA CORPORATE MEMBER, RBC WEALTH MANAGEMENT
We are speaking today with Ken Cerruto, Senior Vice President-Financial Advisor with RBC Wealth Management.
Ken, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Answer: I was born and raised in New Jersey, graduated from Rutgers University, became licensed in the financial services industry in 1979 and earned my CFP designation in 1988. Before joining RBC Wealth Management in 2013 we ran our practice with Raymond James and Associates.
I know that you are a member of REACH Wealth Solutions, an advisory team at RBC. How long have you worked with your team?
Answer: We formed our team in 2010 and penned REACH Wealth Solutions in 2014. REACH is an acronym that stands for Responsible Ethical Accountable Caring Honorable. The foundation of our practice is built upon these character traits. No exceptions.
Why do you believe the team concept benefits your RBC clients?
Answer: In today’s world of financial services it’s important to identify the value that separates you from another practitioner, especially when social media has been driving investor focus toward cost, not value. We believe it’s difficult for one person to offer holistic comprehensive planning and guidance with consistency and sustainability. Having a team with a disciplined process that understands and properly executes their respective roles has enabled us to leverage our practice, provide the capacity for growth, increase levels of service and administer to the changing needs of our diverse clientele.
Why is it important for RBC to be a member of the FSDA?
Answer: As one of the world’s leading diversified financial services companies, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC), has a long heritage of integrity and unwavering dedication to the clients they serve. These objectives are similarly aligned with the FSDA which is an association dedicated to preserving the integrity of the financial services industry in Florida. The FSDA works closely with legislators, regulators and investors to ensure high standards are both set and met to protect and sustain the suitable delivery of financial services within the state.
I know that you are very involved with Full Court Press on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Please tell us a little bit about this organization and your involvement.
Answer: In early 2014 my brother-in-law, a practicing dentist in New Jersey was diagnosed with ALS otherwise known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. At the time I really didn’t know much about the disease like many others who are unaware until it affects someone they know. We also realized that since so few are diagnosed with ALS relative to other diseases, research funding was not, and is not, high on the funding list compared to cancer, heart disease etc. Today, most ALS funding goes towards providing aid to the families and the patients for care and equipment. My brother-in-law was always passionate about basketball and coaching in his spare time. He would rent gymnasiums at night during the winter months in New Jersey in many of the inner cities to keep young men off the streets. He structured basketball programs designed to divert young men from joining gangs and required adherence to rules in order to participate in the programs. My brother-in-law along with our family founded Full Court Press on ALS with the goal of using basketball as a tool to raise awareness for a disease that does not receive a lot of attention due to the limited number of people affected by it. The foundation helps fund research through major medical organizations across the country with the hope of someday finding a way to slow, and ultimately cure this misunderstood and horrible disease.
Ken, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.
MEMBER SPOTLIGHT INTERVIEW: STEVEN M. GREENBAUM
MEET STEVEN M. GREENBAUM OF FSDA CORPORATE MEMBER, TRADESTATION SECURITIES, INC.
We are speaking today with Steven M. Greenbaum, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of TradeStation Securities, Inc.
Steve, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Answer: I was born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, the son of the youngest person, at the time, to become a Merrill Lynch branch manager. When I had the chance to “escape” the freezing north, I headed to New Orleans for college at Tulane University where I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Public Policy, along with my law degree. My first real job was with a group of lawyers at a Florida law firm whose specialty was securities defense litigation. I started practicing in the early 1980’s when the law regarding mandatory arbitration was still developing. Following the stock market crash of October 1987, I joined PaineWebber as a litigator, handling scores of arbitrations, many of which were filed following the crash. By the mid-1990’s, I joined PaineWebber’s Legal Counseling Group where I provided advice and counsel to retail branch offices in Florida and other southern states. By the late 1990’s-around the time PaineWebber was acquired by UBS-I was promoted to manage the Legal Counseling Group, a position I held until I resigned from UBS at the end of 2005, for a brief stint as a sole practitioner, before joining TradeStation in 2008. For years, I have been a FINRA non-public arbitrator and a Florida Supreme Court-certified mediator.
How long have you served as General Counsel of TradeStation?
Answer: Since 2009.
Tell us about your typical day as the General Counsel of TradeStation.
Answer: Each day starts with a manager’s huddle where business initiatives, the market and legal, compliance and risk issues are discussed in a collaborative setting. Thereafter, I meet with my team (which consists of the AML and Fraud Prevention groups) to make sure we are doing everything possible to help manage risk, enhance the client experience and remain compliant with the securities laws and regulations. Each day is chock full of meetings (Legal always has a seat at the table), and I also administer TradeStation’s dispute resolution process which involves handling directly, or through outside counsel, arbitrations, CFTC reparations and court cases. I also partner regularly with the Chief Legal Officer of our holding company and our affiliate’s contracts attorney.
Why is it important for TradeStation to be a member of the FSDA?
Answer: Although TradeStation is not a typical broker-dealer (we neither make recommendations nor offer investment advice to our self-directed online trading clients), as a Florida-based company with many Florida-licensed representatives, we are still subject to the same rules and regulations that govern full-service broker-dealers. I believe that it is important to network with and share our somewhat unique perspective on the securities industry with representatives from all types of brokerage and advisory firms, and to collectively advocate for fair laws designed to protect the investing public. We, at TradeStation, also embrace the FSDA’s mission to provide education opportunities for Florida’s investing public, a goal that falls squarely in line with TradeStation’s mission to encourage investors and traders to gain more knowledge so that they can make better investment and trading decisions.
I know that you are very involved with I Care I Cure Childhood Cancer Foundation, Inc. Please tell us a little bit about this organization and your involvement as Co-President.
Answer: I Care I Cure’s mission is to fight childhood cancer by: (1) funding childhood cancer research with an emphasis on cutting-edge, targeted therapies to make treatments gentler and more tolerable; (2) raising the public’s awareness about scientific breakthroughs in genetic childhood cancer research that are within reach, but seriously underfunded; and (3) funding community outreach programs to help local families manage the challenges associated with raising children suffering from cancer. As a parent of a child who suffered, but endured, the ravages of chemotherapy, I am passionately committed to helping families fight this dreaded disease. I am proud to serve as Co-President of this great local charity with Wes Holston, Managing Principal of Bressler Amery & Ross, also a FSDA member.
Steve, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.
MEET VADIM KHAVINSON OF CAPITAL FORENSICS, INC.
We are speaking today with Vadim Khavinson of Capital Forensics, Inc.
Vadim, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m a native of Belarus and came to the United States with my family when I was in my teens. I worked as a physical trainer and tennis coach to put myself through the University of Illinois, where I earned my undergraduate degree in Finance. Based on my strong interest in data analytics, I began my career with CFI as an analyst after graduating in 2002. Jay Rosen had built a very successful firm based primarily on expert witness testimony in financial services, and he had plans to expand the firm’s consulting capabilities. I knew that the ability to analyze large data sets would play an important role in the growth of the Firm. I was excited to be part of the team that would help make that happen. I also realized that the more experience I obtained, the more I wanted to learn. I then enrolled in the MBA program at Northwestern’s Kellogg School and received my Executive MBA.
How long have your served as Chairman and CEO of Capital Forensics, Inc?
I’ve been with CFI for 17 years. I never felt the desire to work anywhere else. After 2 years of working as an analyst and immersing myself in all aspects of the business, I was promoted to Vice President and served in that role for nearly 5 years. At that time, I became CFI’s President where I served for more than 8 years before assuming the role of Chairman and CEO in 2016. Since coming on-board in 2002, CFI has grown, from 7 people to a team of 50 full-time employees, and 27 subject matter experts. Our firm’s capabilities have expanded far beyond expert witness testimony, and now include a broad range of services covering regulatory and compliance consulting, forensic accounting and litigation support. We’ve also become recognized as the securities industry leader in arbitration-related data and services. I expect CFI to continue to expand over the next few years, both in terms of professional depth and the scope of our expertise.
Due to how the firm has grown over the years, both with the number of people and the range of capabilities we now possess, I spend most of my time on management and strategic planning issues to ensure that we’re delivering value to all our clients. But on those occasions where I’m asked to be more involved in a specific matter, I’m able to dig in and remember why I became so captivated by this, so many years ago.
Why is it important for CFI to be a member of the FSDA?
CFI has always sought to be associated with professional organizations that share our institutional values and are respected throughout the industry. FSDA has established a reputation as one of the securities industry’s most respected trade associations, and CFI is proud to be a member. From a business perspective, Florida remains a growing, vibrant economy. As that market continues to expand, many of our clients will need to address the demand for specialized expertise they may either not possess internally, or not require on a full-time basis. CFI intends to provide those firms with the outside resources they will need to serve the Florida market in the most professional, time-efficient manner. The FSDA has a commitment to bringing positive changes to the financial services sector in the State, and we are committed to assisting them.
Tell us more about CFI’s decision to focus on solutions leveraging data analytics.
As Regulators have incorporated their use of data analytics, firms must be armed with similar capabilities. Data analytics is the basis for everything that CFI does, whether it’s a single customer’s account analysis or a firmwide regulatory review.
More than 8 years ago, FSDA’s former President, Trish Cowart, asked us to create a system that would assist her with arbitrator rankings. Building on nearly twenty years of expert witness work in arbitrations, CFI recognized that the industry required a more sophisticated tool kit to apply arbitration tactics effectively, so we set out to raise the bar, in terms of the quality of information and how that data could be leveraged. We created the ArbSelector®, which now incorporates more than 35 years of arbitration awards, in addition to other data points collected. We also developed a MockArb® process, that enables firms to prepare more effectively for high stakes arbitrations.
Vadim, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.
MEET LOUIS DEMPSEY OF FSDA CORPORATE MEMBER, RENAISSANCE REGULATORY SERVICES, INC.
We are speaking today with Louis Dempsey, President of Renaissance Regulatory Services, Inc.
Louis, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
How long have your served as President of Renaissance?
How hectic is a day in the life of the President of Renaissance, and what does it involve?
I know you're a member of the FSDA Membership Committee. Tell us a little bit about what that committee does.
Why is it important for Renaissance to be a member of the FSDA?
Honestly, when I started RRS in 2006, my involvement was primarily for business development – making contacts – but that’s changed over that past several years. FSDA’s executive director when I joined, O’Bannon Cooke, was gracious and helped me get my foot in the door. He probably offered me the first discount membership. It wasn’t long after joining that I realized what an important role FSDA plays in Florida and I learned a lot about its history from other members. As RRS business has grown our focus is more about supporting FSDA’s educational outreach, regulatory and legislative initiatives. It’s not so much about business development for RRS anymore, but to give back. Over the past 30 years, the industry has changed more than it had since the passage of the 33/34 Acts. Changes to market structure, products, services and even key market participants. The two constants are that a small number of bad actors will keep scamming, making the industry look bad, and the regulators will keep coming with their broad-brush approach. But that’s another discussion.
FSDA does great things for the industry and investors – it shines a positive light on the industry in Florida, and that benefits us all.
I know that you are very involved with senior investor and teen financial literacy issues. Please tell us a little bit about your involvement with these issues.
Teen financial literacy first. After the financial crises it became clear that the lack of basic financial knowledge for so many young adults. We assumed that everyone is provided a basic level of financial education before leaving high school, apparently not. This is critically important for our economy and the growth of wealth and wellbeing in Florida - and across the country. FSDA has also partnered with the Florida Atlantic University and Palm Beach County Schools to provide financial literacy in elementary schools. I’ve participated in that program as well. I have to say presenting to a room full of fourth graders was the most intimidating, yet rewarding, experience I’ve had in my professional life. I gained a greater appreciation for what teachers face each day. Luckily for me the curriculum provided was excellent and the kids loved it.
As for seniors, I’ve worked my entire career in South Florida. When I started in the industry years ago, I worked on consumer complaints and fraud investigations. Many of the victims were elderly retirees, widows and widowers. I saw first-hand how elderly investors are exploited by fraudsters, “confidence” men and women. There are so many issues we face as we grow older. Physical and mental health decline, our networks of trusted friends grow smaller, family may be distant, and we become more vulnerable to exploitation. Over the past several years we saw the impact of cognitive decline with my own father. It can be devastating.
FSDA’s focus in this area is critically important for long term economic health and protection of investors. Let’s face it, we’re all potential victims of exploitation as we grow older. And, it’s not just a customer issue, it’s an employee issue. So FSDA focuses its efforts on industry and consumer educational outreach programs. I’m glad FSDA and its members are on the frontline in Florida, working with regulators, legislators, community leaders, and law enforcement to protect investors.
Louis, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.
MEET JENNIFER STOUT OF FSDA CORPORATE MEMBER, BATES GROUP, LLC
We are speaking today with Jennifer Stout, Chief Executive Officer of Bates Group, LLC.
Jennifer, please tell us a little bit about yourself.
Answer: I am a born-and-raised Oregonian and love living in the Portland area. I graduated from University of Portland and worked for Arthur Anderson as a tax accountant before joining Bates in 1993.
How long have your served as CEO of Bates Group?
Answer: I have been the CEO of Bates Group since we re-acquired ourselves from LECG in 2011. I am also thrilled to be the majority owner of Bates as well. For the last 8 years, we have been focused on growth in three practice areas: Litigation & Regulatory, Compliance Consulting and AML/Financial Crimes. Our team of experienced industry professionals support financial services clients and their counsel in litigation consultation and testimony, regulatory and internal investigations, compliance matters, AML services, forensic accounting, damages and big data consulting. Bates also offers Arbitrator Evaluator™, a new generation of intelligent analytics for identifying and selecting the best arbitrators for customer and intra-industry cases.
You have worked at Bates for more than 25 years. Tell us about your history at Bates, from your start as a financial analyst to your position as CEO.
Answer: I began my career at Bates Capital as a financial analyst. It was a unique opportunity to learn about the financial services industry in a growing litigation support firm. I performed many different roles as I grew in my career, including analyst, consultant, quantitative testifier and senior manager. I have been fortunate to work with highly talented co-workers and clients, all of whom have helped me develop as a leader.
I know you're a member of the FSDA Financial Oversight Committee. Tell us a little bit about what that committee does.
Answer: I am a new member to the committee, which has been created to oversee the stewardship of our organizations funds, and to provide recommendations on best practices for use of the funds. I am very excited to be a part of the committee.
Why is it important for Bates Group to be a member of the FSDA?
Answer: When I first learned about FSDA from Alex Sabo, I was impressed with the active membership and the history of the group. It is important to me that Bates supports and engages in industry organizations—like many of our clients—striving to have a positive and lasting impact. I feel strongly that FSDA does just that. We are thrilled to be a part of this dynamic organization.
I know that Bates Group is very involved with community activities. Please tell us a little bit about your involvement with these issues.
Answer: Individually and as a company, Bates employees participate in a variety of community volunteer activities. Every year our leadership team chooses a charity to support and involves entire staff participation. This past year we contributed to a food and clothing drive for the Sunshine Division and we created an all-company service project for the Sexual Assault Resource Center of Oregon.
Jennifer, thanks for taking time to speak with us today.
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