FREE 9.3 Feature – Alan Kahn

Lessons learned in childhood shape the character of the adults we become. The struggle to overcome economic challenges with matters made worse by a crushing life crisis seem overwhelming and unfixable; but, with perseverance and an unflinching determination to “do the right thing” for his family and his clients, affiliated advisor Alan D. Kahn has come out on top.

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    FREE 9.3 Feature – Alan Kahn

    FREE 9.3 Feature – Alan Kahn

    The wise one.

    Lessons learned in childhood shape the character of the adults we become. The struggle to overcome economic challenges with matters made worse by a crushing life crisis seem overwhelming and unfixable; but, with perseverance and an unflinching determination to “do the right thing” for his family and his clients, affiliated advisor Alan D. Kahn has come out on top.

    Crossing the threshold of Alan D. Kahn’s offices in Woodbury, N.Y., the feeling is both warm and familiar. His easy smile and welcoming nature instantly transforms the office landscape from all-business to one of old friends catching up. Family relationships are central to who Kahn is and how he runs his practice alongside his wife, Joyce, with whom he recently celebrated 35 years of marriage. A native New Yorker, Kahn was born in Brooklyn to working-class parents. By the time he was 12, his parents had saved enough money to afford a small home in Queens. “We lived in a tenement in Brooklyn and the neighborhood had turned. Moving to Queens, I thought we had died and gone to heaven. We had a patch of grass, an above-ground pool and it was great.” His joy was short-lived when, two years later, his beloved mother passed away. As Kahn recalls, “It was very tough for me, but good things happen out of bad things. Losing my mother really gave me the vision, incentive and desire to make something of myself. My father worked nights driving a truck to support the family, so whether I went to school or not, excelled or not, it was all on me. I was disciplined and, in that moment, I grew up. I realized the value of family and the importance of protecting people.”

    Early on, he understood the value of success in that money afforded him choices rather than simply material purchasing power. Kahn supported himself throughout high school and then continued to work while attending Queens College, where he double majored in economics and accounting, achieving a 4.0 GPA in both areas of study. Coming from poor beginnings, Kahn recognized that the value inherent in scholastic achievement was the increased opportunity of securing a good job following graduation. In his senior year at Queens College, Kahn was recruited by one of the big-eight accounting firms—Deloitte, Haskins and Sells. One year later, Kahn married Joyce, his then-high school and college sweetheart who, at the time, was also in the industry working for Arthur Anderson, another competing big-eight accounting firm. Kahn had always aspired to earn a master’s degree. He was the first in his family to graduate from college and attain a higher degree, which was the icing on the cake. While working full-time, he attend ed St. John’s University in the evenings, earned his MBA and passed the CPA exam.

    Even though Kahn had enormous opportunity and gained great experience while at Deloitte, early on he realized professionally it was not the right place for him. He then gravitated to private accounting, working for a textile manufacturing company as a director of finance. While he didn’t mind working, he believed there was still something more to be had. Kahn was growing weary of working for others who derived profits from his labor. “I was working as a director of finance with a paid salary of $65,000 at this textile company and there were people who were selling yarn making $250,000 a year. I said, ‘What’s wrong with this picture?’ I started my own business because I wanted to control my own destiny. I wanted to reap the benefits and take control of my future.”

    With a genuine desire to help people, Kahn endeavored to find a role that would capitalize not just on his CPA and business acumen, but also on his interpersonal and sales skills—attributes he believed were part of his DNA. Kahn knew he needed to have his own business. In 1990, Kahn joined an insurance-owned broker/dealer—MML Investors Services—part time, initially, obtaining his insurance and securities licenses and honing his skills in financial planning; this was done while continuing to work at the textile firm. He recalls making a proposal and never expecting the client to say, “Okay, let’s do it.” Kahn was genuinely unprepared for the client’s response; he didn’t even have an application for completion and signature. That little taste of success had him dipping back into his spheres of influence with CPAs and attorneys, as well as physicians who he provided with educational programs at local hospitals. After a year, he acquired a handful of clients and decided to make the break, driving his own destiny. There was no looking back.

    “It was a big risk. I had two kids at the time, I had a house, but it was a leap. You risk losing your income but, as my wife pointed out, I had my CPA training to fall back on even if that wasn’t what I wanted to do.” The game changer for Kahn came when he realized that a real niche market existed catering to educated professionals seeking advice from someone sophisticated, possessing a technical knowledge of taxes, financial planning and economics to help them meet their financial goals. Over time, Kahn cultivated that niche market and today has a very successful, high-net-worth practice consisting of physicians, attorneys and CPAs. Kahn’s firm is the sole financial organization The Suffolk County Medical Society utilizes … a distinction held for the past 20 years.

    That is the credo that Kahn lives by: Help people solve their problems, work with them to determine what they want to accomplish and support them in any way possible because it all comes back. His business took off and now, after so many years, when potential clients come in, there is a “first-date” meeting to determine if the relationship feels right for both. Kahn employs a hands-on approach, spending a large percentage of his time with clients. The relationship becomes like family because that’s how Kahn treats them. “We tell people all the time, if they come with us, it’s really a life-long decision. Now, we’re working with the next generation … the children of clients.” Many of Kahn’s clients are baby boomers who are starting to retire; they’re rolling over their retirement assets and don’t want to be sold the Brooklyn Bridge. Clients rely on the trust that’s been established and know that help is available.

    Owning your own business has its share of benefits. By the same token, though, it’s often difficult to separate the personal from the professional. Kahn’s partnership with his wife, Joyce, extends beyond the personal. Joyce manages clients’ health care insurance programs and benefits; and, although her office is but a few steps from Kahn’s, their paths rarely cross during business hours. The partnership has afforded Kahn the balance to do what he loves most … being close and actively involved with his children. “I didn’t have my dad all the time and losing my mother young left a big hole, so being involved with my kids was really important to me.” Attesting to this, dozens of framed pictures capturing memorable moments in the lives of Kahn’s three children adorn his beautifully appointed office. Kahn expounds with glowing pride on the accomplishments of his children: His son, Josh, is an NYU film studies graduate and successful filmmaker for the Chicago Bulls with both Emmy and Clio awards under his belt; his eldest daughter, Amanda, is a Northwestern University graduate who studied acting and now has a successful and lucrative career in luxury real estate sales; and Kahn’s younger daughter, Stefanie, is pursuing a liberal arts degree at the University of Wisconsin and recently spent a semester abroad in Rome.

    Change is often challenging and, despite being faced with compelling data, many are daunted by it, shy away from it and get mired in the minutia of the business. After a quarter of a century with the broker/dealer he started with, a year and half ago Kahn made the decision to transition his business to AP, but the initial conversation took place well before that in 2007. The service and support required in taking his established practice to the next level demanded a progressive, forward-thinking business partnership. At the time, a colleague suggested he would be much better served at AP. Kahn met and spoke with AP CEO Lon T. Dolber and President of Sales and New Business Development Tim O’Grady, and found he had an easy rapport with both. Kahn was impressed with AP’s resources, but he wasn’t quite ready to transition over. Shortly after that conversation, the industry suffered the 2008 stock market crash. Making a transition at that point would not have been prudent. In 2013, Kahn had an opportunity to take stock of his business and reassess what more he needed to provide his clients. Kahn reopened the dialogue with AP, as well as with a few other top broker/dealers who were fiercely trying to recruit him. In fact, AP was the only broker/dealer not aggressively pursuing him. Kahn spoke with O’Grady, who assured him that AP would be there whenever he was ready—no pressure. Throughout his search, everyone Kahn spoke with concurred that AP was the way to go. It was a phenomenal move. Not a single client was lost and a year-and-a-half in, production has doubled. Prior to joining AP, Kahn was not involved with the advisory side of the business. During his transition to AP, he took the opportunity to transfer a number of his clients to advisory—those in 12b-1 accounts who would be better served, in his opinion, in a fee-based account to provide more diversification across different asset managers versus staying with one management company to meet the breakpoints for pricing discounts. Today, a tremendous piece of his business is advisory. AP has given Kahn the ability to effectively and efficiently run his business the way he wants to. And while he jokes about it now, the only regret Kahn has about joining AP is that O’Grady didn’t make him do it sooner.

    Kahn’s passion for the business has been channeled by serving a greater call to impart his knowledge to his peers in a more far reaching way; he’s written for the CPA Journal, and has been quoted in Forbes and Fortune Magazine. Kahn guest lectures on estate and retirement planning and has appeared on CNN, Bloomberg TV, Fox 5 News, NY1 and WABC Eyewitness News. While he is generally a very private person, his early life experiences have motivated him to step into the spotlight and contribute to the discourse surrounding financial services. Kahn is a member of the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and the New York State Society of CPAs (NYSSCPAs). He previously chaired the NYSSCPA’s Public Relations, Estate Planning and Tax Division Oversight Committees, and has served as a trustee for the Foundation for Accounting. He also continues to be active with the Suffolk County Medical Society by providing educational programs to members and supporting their Doctors of Tomorrow program, which provides scholarship funding to deserving high school students with a desire to become physicians.

    He feeds his passion and his calling to help people reach their goals every day. Kahn’s legacy is far reaching; his commitment to family and to the clients that he considers family, and being active in his professional community, all circle back to his core values—to educate people and do the right thing. A simple, yet powerful, life message … that is what has people flocking to the wise one—Alan D. Kahn.

    About The Author

     

    Senior Vice President of Marketing and Corporate Communications 
    631.439.4600, ext. 108 

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