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Chris Duke, CFP®

I am fond of saying that I rarely do something for only one reason. My decision to change careers and become a financial advisor is no exception. After 15 years in the tech world, I recognized that my tech career path was not fulfilling in the way I wanted it to be. Through long soul-searching conversations with my wife, colleagues, and friends, I inherently knew that any change would have to live up to three standards: value, meaning, relevance.

In a parallel and serendipitous set of events, a family member aware of my affinity for the financial markets approached me. It was early in 2008. The markets had been falling since late 2007 and had further to go. My family member had reasonably simple questions and needed honest answers: Am I doing well? (In my opinion, no.) Am I getting sound advice? (In my opinion, no.) Am I well-diversified and holding the right types of investments? (In my opinion, no.) Could I be doing better? (In my opinion, yes.) Do I have enough money to support my retirement?

That portfolio belonged to my grandparents, and they would later become my first client. I am eternally grateful for the life lessons that I learned from them and the opportunities they provided to me. My grandparents modeled some incredible behavior, both personal and financial. They were frugal and generous at the same time, and to me, they embodied a book that had been hugely influential to me: The Millionaire Next Door. From my relationship with my grandparents, I developed my first mantra for thinking about investing and giving advice to clients: is this something I would recommend for my grandparents?

This project that I embarked upon with them in 2008, the finding and framing answers to important questions, was a pivotal moment for me. I found the experience to be thoroughly rewarding. For me, it was as if a light had been turned on in a dark room. I realized that basing a financial advisory practice on honest and relevant advice could deliver significant value and develop meaningful relationships with the people I worked with while having a positive and sometimes dramatic impact on their lives. I also realized that these services were relevant to almost everyone I knew in times of uncertainty and occasionally turbulent markets.

I decided that the right path for me was that of independent, unbiased financial advice. It was hard to walk away from my career as an IT professional (I was well paid, developed some decent skills, and was pretty good at what I did). At the same time, I knew there was the potential for better - one that would be more meaningful for me, more relevant to my passions, and provide more value for clients. 

More About Me

If you had a million dollars to spend, what would be the first thing you would buy? A ski cabin in Tahoe.  

What’s the most likely place people could find you on a Saturday night? At home making dinner for the family. It's the only night of the week I have time to spend the time to make a really great meal. 

Which would you pick: Living on the beach or living near the mountains? Both! My wife and I have a stretch goal to have a house in both locations in retirement. 

Imagine being approached by a genie who offers you three wishes. What might those wishes be? First would be to stop the warming of the planet. I really worry about the legacy we are leaving for our children and grandchildren. Second would be that my children build meaningful lives. The last would be a fully funded 529 plan for all my nieces and nephews. 

If you had the ability to travel back in time, what’s something you would tell your 18-year-old self? The expectation is that you will get an A in every class you take in high school and college. It's ok if you give it your best effort and don't get an A. But the expectation is that you will strive for the A.