Grassroots Champion: Circle of Excellence / Excellence in Advocacy Awards

September 21, 2021

FSI’s mission of advocacy – and the success we have achieved over the years on behalf of our industry – has always been fundamentally linked to the engagement of our members. Across the country, the personal involvement of our members has been absolutely critical to ensuring that legislators and regulators hear the perspectives and concerns of independent financial advisors and their clients when considering bills and rule proposals that will impact Main Street investors.

FSI Advocacy Circle of Excellence

To celebrate those members who have gone above and beyond to help advance the goal of creating a healthier regulatory environment for all advisors and their clients, last year, we introduced the FSI Advocacy Circle of Excellence and the Stephen R. Kareta Excellence in Advocacy Awards.

We were pleased to announce our second annual group of Advocacy Circle of Excellence Honorees in August, including:

  • Jennifer Brittingham, Senior Vice President, Retail Services, PlanMember Financial Corp.
  • Jody Detillier, CEO and Financial Advisor, Detillier Financial Advisors LLC
  • Kevin Dick, President and Wealth Advisor, KDI Wealth Management
  • Brad Greenbaum, Vice President, Altigro Pension Services, Inc.
  • Rhonda Heineman, Financial Advisor, Heineman Financial Strategies
  • Cynthia Jeffries, Vice President of Compliance, Commonwealth Financial Network
  • Elizabeth Kietzman, Financial Advisor, Artisan Financial Group
  • Christina Kramer, Senior Vice President, Compliance Officer, PFS Investments Inc.
  • Russell Kyncl, Owner and Registered Representative, Strategic Exit LLC
  • Ruth Matt, Founder and CEO, Fore River Financial
  • Peter Mendall, Certified Financial Planner, Mendall Financial Group LLC
  • Jason Mullaly, Head of Regulatory Compliance, MML Investor Services
  • John Natale, Financial Advisor, Lincoln Investment
  • Tony Nerantzis, Financial Advisor and Branch Manager, Tony Nerantzis & Associates
  • Mark Quinn, Director of Regulatory Affairs, Cetera Financial Group
  • Brendan Speers, Director of Retirement Plan Services, Legacy Planning Partners
  • Jeffrey Speicher, Managing Director and Financial Advisor, Speicher Financial Group
  • Gwen Weithaus, Vice President, Investment Products Services Risk & Controls, Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company
  • Martha Wilcoxson, Founder and Financial Advisor, Wilcoxson Wealth Management

Speaking on the vital importance of these members’ contributions over the past year – including during the worst days of the pandemic – FSI Director of Political Engagement Matt Landers said, “I have been incredibly impressed at how these members adapted to these unprecedented times, continuing to make the case for our advocacy mission even as traditional methods of outreach and engagement were nearly impossible. The successful shift to a remote advocacy process – which allowed us to maintain our momentum through the pandemic – was largely due to our honorees’ leadership and creativity.”

Explaining how honorees were selected, Landers said, “We look across our membership throughout the year to identify those top advocates for the independent financial services industry. We monitor members’ participation in advocacy actions, as well as their work with local and federal legislators and regulators, and how they encouraged the broader membership to support our agenda in Washington, D.C. and state capitals around the country.”

Stephen R. Kareta Excellence in Advocacy Award Recipients

Advocacy Circle of Excellence honorees Brad Greenbaum, Elizabeth Kietzman and Mark Quinn were further honored with the 2021 Stephen R. Kareta Excellence in Advocacy Award for their longstanding dedication to our advocacy mission and their sterling example of engagement to protect and advance the interests of their clients and colleagues.

Greenbaum, whose family-run business focuses on wealth management, pension administration, and life and health insurance, ties his involvement with FSI to his deeply held belief that professionals must take an active role in their communities.

“I’ve always said that you should give back and support the institutions that enabled your success,” Greenbaum told FSIVoice. “And if you don’t get involved in shaping the rules that impact your life and business, the world is going to change around you.”

Over the past several years, Greenbaum has worked to foster meaningful relationships with his Congressional representatives. He credits these personal ties for his ability to better support the FSI agenda on Capitol Hill, especially during the pandemic. “Everything is a phone call now. While these meetings feel less personal, the time we spent fostering relationships in the past is paying dividends today.”

A member of FSI since 2016, Kietzman took a more prominent advocacy role due to her prior professional experience. Before becoming an independent financial advisor, providing securities and advisory services to clients across the Upper Midwest and in Texas, she worked as an employee advisor. She explained that the potential impact of the PRO Act on her business was too significant to ignore.

“I didn’t go looking for an advocacy role, but the latest draft of the PRO Act concerned me,” she said. “FSI gave me a platform to help legislators understand that the best people to bring financial education and services to Main Street American investors are independent financial advisors. We need to ensure that proposed legislation doesn’t cost millions of Americans access to vital financial services.”

Quinn has been engaged with FSI since its inception in 2004 and has held several leadership roles within the organization. “What I find most valuable about FSI’s advocacy is that it always makes room for its entire membership to participate,” he said. “The real power of FSI is found within the diversity of our membership, and when we show up together, the range of experience we bring to the table influences decisions in profound ways.”

FSI President and CEO Dale Brown said, “Brad, Beth, Mark and the entire 2021 Advocacy Circle of Excellence positively impacts the professional lives of FSI members and the Main Street investors they serve. Their tireless and innovative efforts this year in the face of great uncertainty set the stage for our industry’s continued growth and success.”

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