Arek Puzia, CFP, CPA, MBA

Co-Founder and Chief Investment Officer

Why I Am in this Profession

Personal finance has always fascinated me. After all, most people spend the majority of their waking hours working hard to meet life’s basic necessities. Both my parents work very labor-intensive jobs in a steel mill and my first job was delivering newspapers and washing dishes at a local restaurant called “The Velvet Creamery.” Financial planning is an absolute necessity to make sure that all of that time, energy, and effort is not wasted by poor or uninformed decisions. While some decisions can be reversed, many decisions are final and it’s impossible to turn back the clock. There is nothing worse to having to tell someone that their hard work and sacrifice was wasted simply because of mistakes that could have easily been avoided with the right expertise.

There are few things more intimate for most people than their financial lives. Discussing personal finance often requires us to delve into our past mistakes and regrets, as well as to display out in the open our fears about the future. Growing up, my parents didn’t have much money and really didn’t understand money. They concentrated on the very near term….the next paycheck. It was hard since there were five of us and they worked low paying blue collar jobs. Additionally, they never really had an interest or understanding of investments. To this day, both of my parents would have a difficult time explaining the difference between a stock and a bond. I however, enjoyed everything and anything about money and finance. I was a numismatist (the fancy word for coin collector) since I could remember. I would take any job I could and I opened my first retirement account as soon as I reached 18. I read every book I could get my hands on that dealt with personal finance.

In school, I focused on finance and accounting. I was fortunate enough to graduate as salutatorian in my high school class and I went on to UCLA, where I studied accounting and economics. I then worked for IBM setting up large accounting systems for big companies. My finance bug kept biting though and I returned to school, getting my MBA at the University of Chicago, Booth School of Business. My focus? You guessed it. Finance. I then went on to Merrill Lynch in their Capital Markets group in London. There I had a chance to work on a large trading desk, focusing on foreign currencies, commodities, and bonds.

But deep down inside, I felt that my true calling was helping people exactly like my parents. Those who worked hard to achieve what they had and needed help avoiding the many pitfalls that could cause them great pain. Wealth management is far more than a return on your investment. It’s really a return on life. “Wealth” is often defined by a number in a bank account, but it is so much more. Money is simply the tool that we use to express ourselves in life….it is what helps us create our “stories.” Every client I work with I learn something from. Hearing their “stories” is such an intimate, amazing and humbling experience. The wisdom that comes from our clients is absolutely unbelievable. I feel truly honored to have the opportunity to help them take their lives to the next level.

Arek Puzia and his familyWhat I Am Most Proud of

I am most proud of the relationships we have built with our clients. Many are now close friends and the firm feels like an “extended family,” which is exactly what we always hoped for. There is absolutely nothing more rewarding in life than loving what you do. In a way, we retired years ago because we enjoy what we do so much that we can’t ever imagine the day we would stop.

One Thing I Am Doing to Help the Planet

We run a very energy efficient household. We try to re-use and recycle on a regular basis and we are cognizant of any energy waste.

Outside of Work my Passions Include

“Off the beaten path” travel (where you really get into day to day activity and mingle with the locals), skiing, outdoors, and any activities with my daughter.