A Look Back at 2017

A Look Back at 2017; What to Look Forward to in 2018


I enjoy the end of the year, spending time looking back fondly at all the places I have been, people I have spent time with and ways we have all moved forward together, both personally and professionally. For many people, 2017 was a challenging year, but I believe everyone can benefit from taking time to reflect, before charging forward into a new year.

2017 marked another year with overall very positive investment market returns, across almost every major asset class. You probably remember the Equifax security breach in the summer (you can re-read a summary on our blog here: Equifax-Breach).  Additionally, the year ended with some of the biggest tax changes in decades (Tax Reform). Of course, this does not even touch on the political front or other events outside the scope of this post that shaped each of our years.

As we look back at 2017 here at Deerfield, there are many highlights and notable events that we want to share with you, before looking ahead to 2018.

Company Updates

  • At the beginning of the year, we launched our updated website at www.deerfieldfa.com. We have received great feedback and look to continue to update in the future.
  • In February, Lori Kamminga earned her Registered Paraplanner(SM) designation, after completing courses and exams across various financial planning topics.
  • In June, we hired our newest Client Services Associate, Stacey Swinson. She fit right into our team from day one!
  • Also in June, Brenden McKeon started working with us as an Advisor, after interning for us in 2016. You can learn more about Stacey, Brenden, and all of the Deerfield associates at www.deerfieldfa.com/our-team.


Personal Highlights

This year was filled with many momentous personal events as well for many of our associates. This includes:

  • In April, Marcus Miller and his wife Andrea celebrated the birth of their second daughter, Allie.
  • Brad Cougill and his wife became empty-nesters as they sent their youngest daughter off to college at Indiana University.
  • Susie Steel and her husband also sent their son off to Ball State University in the fall.
  • Marsha Kalasmiki welcomed her first grandchild in 2017, with another on the way in 2018!
  • We were all excited to hear that Susanna Falkmann and her husband are expecting a daughter in February 2018.


Lastly, we were honored in various publications in 2017. These included:

  • Brad Cougill & Susie Steel each were named for the sixth time as Indianapolis Monthly Magazine Five Star Wealth Managers.
  • Marcus Miller also received his third Indianapolis Monthly Magazine Five Star Wealth Manager award.
  • Ben Hockema was named as a Chicago Magazine Five Star Wealth Manager, for the fourth year in a row.
  • Deerfield Financial Advisors, Inc. was also named to the 2017 Financial Times 300 Top Registered Investment Advisers. This list recognizes top independent RIAs around the US.
  • You can find out more about these awards at the end of this post.

Upcoming in 2018

As we continue to strive to help our clients focus on the important things in their lives, we will be making additional changes in 2018. Some of these include:.

  • Improve our existing technology and add new features, including:
    • Schwab Alliance: Many of our clients have chosen to access their Schwab accounts online via Schwab Alliance, finding it more secure and convenient. If you have not yet joined Schwab Alliance, we highly recommend that you set this up, to take advantage of current and future features of this online access. Please reach out to your team to sign up.
    • Secure File Exchange: As many of you know, we have been utilizing Sharefile to securely transfer electronic documents to and from Deerfield. We hope to have an even more user-friendly electronic system in the coming months.
    • New Technology: We will be testing other new software in early 2018, with the hope to make it available to all clients later in the year. We want this program to allow our clients to view their financial picture in a new way, so that they can feel confident in understanding their up-to-date financial situation.
  • For those of you with Schwab accounts, we have been able to accomplish a reduction in the mutual fund trading costs starting in 2018. Additionally, you may notice a few changes to the cash feature in your Schwab accounts, from a mutual fund to an FDIC insured fund. Talk to your advisor with any questions around these changes.
  • In the coming weeks, you will receive an email alerting you to our new blog post email list. We will be posting more regularly in 2018, after receiving positive feedback as we began in 2017. Please watch for this email.
  • We will be adding several new members to our team in 2018 as we grow and look to improve our ability to serve our clients. If you know someone who may be a good fit to join the Deerfield team, please let us know!


We hope your New Year has started well, and we look forward to sharing in the important moments in your lives throughout 2018 and beyond!

1) The Five Star Wealth Manager award, administered by Crescendo Business Services, LLC (dba Five Star Professional), is based on 10 objective criteria. Eligibility criteria – required: 1. Credentialed as a registered investment adviser or a registered investment adviser representative; 2. Actively licensed as a registered investment adviser or as a principal of a registered investment adviser firm for a minimum of 5 years; 3. Favorable regulatory and complaint history review (As defined by Five Star Professional, the wealth manager has not; A. Been subject to a regulatory action that resulted in a license being suspended or revoked, or payment of a fine; B. Had more than a total of three settled or pending complaints filed against them and/or a total of five settled, pending, dismissed or denied complaints with any regulatory authority or Five Star Professional’s consumer complaint process. Unfavorable feedback may have been discovered through a check of complaints registered with a regulatory authority or complaints registered through Five Star Professional’s consumer complaint process; feedback may not be representative of any one client’s experience; C. Individually contributed to a financial settlement of a customer complaint; D. Filed for personal bankruptcy within the past 11 years; E. Been terminated from a financial services firm within the past 11 years; F. Been convicted of a felony); 4. Fulfilled their firm review based on internal standards; 5. Accepting new clients. Evaluation criteria – considered: 6. One-year client retention rate; 7. Five-year client retention rate; 8. Non-institutional discretionary and/or non-discretionary client assets administered; 9. Number of client households served; 10. Education and professional designations. Wealth managers do not pay a fee to be considered or placed on the final list of Five Star Wealth Managers. Award does not evaluate quality of services provided to clients. Once awarded, wealth managers may purchase additional profile ad space or promotional products. The Five Star award is not indicative of the wealth manager’s future performance. Wealth managers may or may not use discretion in their practice and therefore may not manage their client’s assets. The inclusion of a wealth manager on the Five Star Wealth Manager list should not be construed as an endorsement of the wealth manager by Five Star Professional or this publication. Working with a Five Star Wealth Manager or any wealth manager is no guarantee as to future investment success, nor is there any guarantee that the selected wealth managers will be awarded this accomplishment by Five Star Professional in the future. For more information on the Five Star award and the research/selection methodology, go to fivestarprofessional.com. 1164 Indianapolis area wealth managers were considered for the award; 182 (16 percent of candidates) were named 2017 Five Star Wealth Managers. 2016: 1083 considered, 332 winners; 2015: 1743 considered, 348 winners; 2014: 2009 considered, 360 winners; 2013: 1624 considered, 413 winners; 2012: 1375 considered, 387 winners.

2) For more information on the Five Star award and the research/selection methodology, go to fivestarprofessional.com. 3781 Chicago area wealth managers were considered for the award; 438 (12 percent of candidates) were named 2017 Five Star Wealth Managers. 2016: 3411 considered, 725 winners; 2015: 5833 considered, 716 winners; 2014: 8161 considered, 744 winners; 2013: 3998 considered, 772 winners; 2012: 2970 considered, 780 winners.

3) FT300 Disclosure:

According to the Financial Times, the FT 300 list “represents an impressive cohort of elite RIA firms, as the ‘average’ practice in this year’s list has been in existence for 24 years and manages $2.7 billion in assets. The FT 300 Top RIAs hail from 37 states and Washington, D.C.”

The FT 300 list is produced independently by the Financial Times in collaboration with Ignites Research, a subsidiary of the FT that provides business intelligence on the investment management industry.

RIA firms applied for consideration, having met a minimum set of criteria. Applicants were then graded on six factors: assets under management (AUM); AUM growth rate; years in existence; advanced industry credentials of the firm’s advisers; online accessibility; and compliance records. There are no fees or other considerations required of RIAs that apply for the FT 300.

In its release of the FT 300 list, the Financial Times stated, “To ensure a list of established companies with substantial expertise, we examine the database of RIAs registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission and select those that reported to the SEC that they had $300m or more in assets under management (AUM). The Financial Times’ methodology is quantifiable and objective. The RIAs had no subjective input. The FT invited qualifying RIA companies — more than 2,000 — to complete a lengthy application that gave us more information about them. We added this to our own research into their practices, including data from regulatory filings. Some 725 RIA companies applied and 300 made the final list.”

This award does not evaluate the quality of services provided to clients and is not indicative of the practice’s future performance. Additionally, the FT caps the number of companies from any one state. The cap is roughly based on the distribution of millionaires across the US.

Finally, the Financial Times notes that the FT 300 is presented “as an elite group, not a competitive ranking of one to 300. This is the fairest way to identify the industry’s elite advisers while accounting for the companies’ different approaches and different specializations.”


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