As the decade closes and another dawns, many "best of" lists will hit your social media feeds and inboxes. Next will be the "new year, new you" challenges of the ways that you can - voila - improve yourself and fix what ails you. While I am a forever future thinker with great belief in the positive effects of the human spirit, I do know by now that a turn of the year or the decade doesn't wash away any of the hard things in life. As my mom recently reminded me, "There will always be sadness, there will always be poor people, there will always be wars. But think of the medical advances, the great lives that so many people have, and all of the good things ahead of us. That should be the focus, especially as we help those around us."
If I look back over the last decade, the most significant - and unexpected - event in my life was my dad's death. As hard as it was to accept, I do know that the best outcome is for me to continue the spirit of his good work in helping people. Below is "Very Truly Yours," a story about the artwork that we had commissioned for our lobby to keep us rooted in the foundation of our firm, while we grow into the future. As you spend time with family and friends and look ahead to what the next decade holds for you, I hope you enjoy this glimpse into how much we honor and appreciate the opportunity we have to serve our clients and our community.
Very truly yours,
To open our new office in Preston Center, we wanted to bring the foundation that my dad built with us, even as we struck out in a new direction for our firm. We engaged highly regarded local artist Erika Jaeggli to create an image for the lobby that would tell our story. Erika’s work focuses on the human experience, and we commissioned her to bring the spirit of the company’s origin story to life for the next phase of our growth. She examined company artifacts that represented my dad as he built the company and devoted his life to serving others. I found the original letters he had written to clients, as well as handwritten notes in his famous red pen. Erika created a digital collage of the artifacts, including the letter my dad wrote to clients when he started his first radio program. Visible at the bottom of the canvas are the initials from a letter: DMB/smb, the latter initials representing my mom, who worked with Dad when he was just starting the firm. In the upper left corner is Dad’s handwritten signature, just above his title: David M. Brennan, President and CEO. He was so proud to hold that title. His red pen splashes through the middle of the painting in two places: “…to achieve the American dream…,” and “Plan your future by investing in yourself…,” but scratched out “investing in yourself” and replaced it with “investing in your country…” Dad was the proudest American I have ever known, and he understood that investing in companies is important for our country.
With that as the background, Erika painted her interpretation of our work. Many vague circles overlap each other, unclear and without discernible form. These represent the confusion that most people feel when they realize that they need a financial advisor. However, one circle stands boldly on the canvas, with a distinct shape and a clear outline. That circle represents the clarity we provide to our clients through our wealth management and financial plan process, the DBT360. In this process, we stand right in the middle of our clients’ lives with them and look out on all sides, to see their resources and their risks. We identify what is important, prioritize the steps, and crystallize the plan. This combination of images represents what our firm has always been and will always be: a group of people who serve others to help them achieve their life goals.
The inspiration for Erika’s title of the piece, “Very Truly Yours,” came from the signature in the lower right corner above Dad’s name. She was struck by how our dedication to helping people with their finances — and thus with their whole lives — came from such a genuine and true place. The words “Very Truly Yours” both embody the ethos of our organization and speak to the generational lineage of our company.
Erika Jaeggli was born in Baltimore, MD and received her B.A. from Columbia University and M.A. from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts. Currently, Jaeggli lives and works in Dallas. Using allegory and visual storytelling as artistic material, Jaeggli’s work references both past and contemporary culture. She is a founding member and board member of the Vignette Art Fair and has had exhibitions across the country. http://www.erikajaeggli.com/
Debra Brennan Tagg is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional and the creator of the DBT360 Financial Plan, a proprietary program that helps her clients prioritize their goals, leverage their resources, and address their risks. She is the president of BFS Advisory Group and teaches the public and the financial services industry about the importance of values-based financial planning and investor education.