Business at a Glance as of 12/31/21
- Plan assets under advisement: $1 billion
- Median plan size (in assets): $25 million
- Plans under administration: 52
- Total participants served: 44,186 across team
PLANADVISER: Tell us about your practice and how you got into advising retirement plans.
Moore: Right out of college and as I was finishing my military service, I was recruited to a large financial services company into a management training program. I started out in the government sector as a call center supervisor, then progressed to regional manager. During a finals meeting in Houston, I met a sales RVP and he selected me to manage the City of Houston’s 457 plan. I spent several years in that role, then pivoted to consultant upon the birth of my second child.
I went into personal advising for several years, met two like-minded reps and we formed Peak Financial Group in the early 2000s. We started to focus on retirement plans after we landed a big start up and realized that we loved the work. Fast forward 17 years and we sold our firm to HUB International in 2019. We now have a team of eight and manage 130 plans across the country of all sizes and types, mostly 3(21) with a sprinkling of BOR and 3(38). It has become a passion instead of a career.
PLANADVISER: How is your team/process/structure unique? How has it evolved? Where will you be in five years?
Moore: Our team celebrates diversity and inclusion. We have a solid team that shatters generational and racial barriers in our industry. Gen Z, Millennial and Gen X generations are celebrated. We have equal representation by gender and also have racial balance with one Black and two Latinx team members. This translates to four women and four men.
We are proud to reflect the workforce of the future and expect this to continue over the coming years. We assign every new hire to a coach and require weekly meetings and sanity checks to ensure that they are folded into our team. We provide one, three, six and 12 month assessments to ensure that every team member receives feedback and has the opportunity to voice their opinion.
PLANADVISER: What challenges do you think the retirement plan industry faces and what role do you have in addressing and confronting those challenges?
Moore: At the beginning of my career, I think there was lip service to the need for DEI. Organizational cultures send messages both large and small. Initially, I can remember the need to point out that materials need to reflect all people. Beyond seeing materials that look like everyone, it is more important to see people of all types doing important jobs. In our industry, I notice lots of folks in admin and education positions, but they need opportunities to make the leap to advisor. Deep down, everyone wants to be included, to feel like they are part of the story.
At a recent industry summit, I was happy to see an amazing DEI panel on the main stage making the case for broadening the adviser community for business purposes. I contrast that to a few years back when I served on a panel that was offered as a breakout session and only like-minded people attended.
I’ve definitely enjoyed social connection at networking events designed specifically for diverse advisors but think we all benefit when mainstream groups are intentional about being more inclusive. By breaking down barriers in these settings, we can learn much from each other.
I think advisers are waking up to the fact that communities of color are expanding and want options when it comes to working with people that look like them, whether by gender, race, ethnicity or even language. The business case is that having diverse advisors will not take away from existing business, it will just enhance and grow additional opportunities that have previously been untapped. I continue to advocate for a more diverse and inclusive industry and have partnered with the American Retirement Association to provide education to underrepresented communities.
PLANADVISER: Please tell us about an important experience you have had as either a mentor or mentee.
Moore: Mentorship has always been a huge part of my life and I have had the opportunity to have multiple mentors and centers of influence in every aspect of my career. My partner Darrell is my main sounding board for all major decisions. We have a great relationship and trust each other implicitly. We have built a solid team and I count on Joe, Matt, Dina, Alicia, Ron and Abbie to keep our clients happy and give feedback when something isn’t working. Our HUB Retirement Advisor Council is top notch and I have developed some great relationships with them, along with our state’s executive management team.
Having a personal board of directors is really important—I’m part of a group of women advisers that keep me grounded, motivated and focused. We meet monthly. I also give big credit to the National Association of Plan Advisors and We Inspire. Promote. Network. (WIPN) and have some great relationships with their leadership and many members.
My longer mentorship story starts at the age of 18, when I joined the Air Force. After an initial year in a dead-end administrative role, I was assigned to Major Robert Boggs, who led our Mission Support Flight to prepare national guardsmen to go to Desert Storm. This extremely stressful and impactful time in my life taught me the value of hard work, courage and faith. Major Boggs gave the best to our group and expected nothing but excellence in return. As his Acting First Sergeant, he poured into me and taught me how to lead. He encouraged me to mentor other young women who were not getting the same opportunities and I am still friends with them to this day. One of my favorites, Ramona Reynolds, went from a welfare situation to a highly successful corporate career and recently launched her own national consulting practice.
At 22, I took a job as a 457(b) customer service supervisor at a major insurance company and was the youngest black female in management in the entire company. My director identified my strengths and weaknesses, then taught me corporate etiquette, golf and how to navigate office politics. Her willingness to provide visibility for me, allowed a quick ascension through the corporate ranks into management roles. Eventually, I was leading two service teams of 40 individuals and was able to start mentoring others and bring them up as well. I identified several as potential leaders and worked with them after hours to help them gain the skills and visibility for promotions.
After three promotions, I moved to Houston at the age of 25 to lead the City of Houston’s 457(b) plan. Because I was new to the city and my closest manager was in Austin, I quickly joined the National Forum for Black Public Administrators to meet people. Through this organization I met some of the top department heads and requested their help in growing the visibility of the plan among City employees. Several City leaders served as mentors and taught me how to navigate municipal politics and relationships. I have deep friendships to this day with many of them including Carolyn Lacye, Ulysses Fogg, Yvette Chargois, Joyce Bethany, Everett Bass and Rhonda Smith. During this segment of my life, I focused on helping minority employees learn the value of saving and investing and have witnessed countless employees reach their retirement dreams.
At 32, the birth of my second child prompted a career change and I started as a financial adviser with another large insurer. This time, I was in a very male-dominated industry and was assigned formal mentors to help me succeed. Bob Murphy and John Osborn taught me how to navigate the insurance industry and provide individual financial services. To give back, I joined a Christian mentoring program and spent a year with a new adviser from a competing firm. I am happy to report that she is still in the industry and has had a very successful career. As part of my commitment to DE&I, I informally mentored three new agents, Reggie Russell, Carmis Adams and Pharis Dawson, and although none of them are still in the industry, we still maintain friendships to this day.
At 35, I partnered with two co-workers, Darrell Ellisor and Tracey Brundrett, to form our company, Peak Financial Group, and began my career in retirement plan advisory services. Both of my partners brought tons of experience to our team and Tracey introduced me to the National Association of Women Business Owners (NAWBO), where I took on a formal mentoring role with several young entrepreneurs. Tracey and I received our certification as a woman-owned business from the Women Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) Through both of these organizations, I served in leadership positions and mentored multiple women in a variety of fields about the basics of starting and maintaining a viable business.
During the 17 years of business ownership before we sold our practice to HUB International in 2019, I was a proud member of Business and Professional Women (BPW). During my tenure as president, I was able to set up formal mentorship relationships with a number of women and assist them in growing and developing their businesses. Although I could name more than a dozen close friends, I would say that my favorite mentee is Rohanna Brooks-Sykes, who continues to thrive and grow beyond expectation. I have several spiritual mentors as well, including Pam Chisholm, Ann Barber, Rose Rich, Demeria Roberts, Lorraine Hibbert and Kim Wooden. These ladies have poured life and love into me over my years as a working mom, business owner, community leader and other roles I’ve accepted during my lifetime.
Over the past five years, my favorite mentorship story comes from the National Association of Plan Advisors. I was selected to serve as a panelist for one of their women’s conferences and that is where I found my kindred spirits—women advisers who understood the retirement plan space and all of the jargon and difficulty that comes with it! Through this organization, I have sought industry knowledge from some of the best in the business, including Barb Delaney, Pat Wenzel and Erika Goodwin. In addition, I joined a formal NAPA mentorship program (Thrive) and have proudly watched my mentee, Apryl Pope, ascend to from relative obscurity to speaking on the national stage at NAPA Summit through monthly coaching and encouragement.
Through NAPA, six advisers and I have formed a monthly study group, the “Retirement Alliance” where we provide mentoring and encouragement to each other and this was especially helpful through the isolating Covid pandemic. The fact that none of us are from the same company has had no bearing on our close relationship and I could not imagine life without Pam Brooks, Renee Scherzer, Pam Appell, Amy Hanophy, Karie O’Connor and Andrea Donaldson.
PLANADVISER: What advice can you give to your industry peers about developing successful experiences for both mentors and mentees?
Moore: Mentorship means investing in others and caring about them reaching their goals. When I look back at my career through the lens of mentorship, I realize that my “success” comes from the vast number of mentors and mentees in my life. Having someone pour into you from a young age inspires you to do the same across your lifetime and the joy you get from watching someone else grow is more rewarding than personal achievements.
As a mentor, your role is to:
- Take the job seriously and provide consistent meetings and feedback
- Be honest and provide encouragement
- Give guidance and provide real life examples, both good and bad
- Celebrate the victories, both large and small
- Promote your mentee to others
As a mentee, your role is to:
- Come to the table with relevant questions
- Complete your assignments on time
- Be accountable
- Ask for help when you need it
- Give back to the next generation once you are stable