My purpose is to ensure people have a "Plan-B" in life, no matter what their situation is.
Christopher Horoky joined the Howard Bailey team in February 2018. Since joining, he has helped expand our offices into the Mishawaka area and has brought a friendly, familiar, and local presence to our newest office. His unique experiences with financial stability and saving helps him build comprehensive retirement plans to allow clients to retire with purpose. In this final installment of this interview series, we sat down with Christopher to learn more about his experience with discovering financial freedom and how his life experience translates into his work with clients at Howard Bailey.
Q: Talk about your paper route growing up and anything that you learned that helps with your career today.
A: In 1980, when I was only eight years old, my father’s countertop manufacturing business went bankrupt. They had just finished constructing their dream home, a 5,000 sq. foot ranch on 5 acres, and now thought that they had lost everything. My mother asked my brother and me, at the ages of seven and eight, to help the family out. We took a small loan and started a paper route. That route expanded to a 114-carrier route. At a young age, we learned what financial independence was.
This was around the time all the game systems were coming out. As a kid, all I wanted to do was play sports and play Atari, but my mom forced us to take that money to the bank and invest it. This experience taught me the importance of saving and the difference between wants versus needs.
Q: What did you do before Howard Bailey? Talk about your journey through college to now.
A: I had a funny college career. Two of my three older siblings had scholarships, one academic and the other for diving. I had been working my entire life, but I knew I didn’t want to spend my entire savings on just college. I started at a junior college in DeKalb, Illinois, and played as #1 on the golf team. After changes to the golf team and coaching was made, I moved down to Florida International University in 1992. Hurricane Andrew came and leveled everything, so after a month I moved back home. I took a job in a factory, first and third shift just to save money. The people at that job kept telling me, “This is not the right spot for you, this is not your career. You need to go back to school and get an education.” When I was 15, I was dating someone who got me interested in the stock market, so I decided to go to Ball State and pursue a double major in finance.
I still wanted to play golf professionally, that was my pursuit and passion, but I backed that up with my financial skills. I asked myself, “How can I build better wealth for myself and in the future?” My advisors and counselors back in the day pushed us to succeed in those areas. Fortunately, we had speakers who came in from the industry, insurance agents, stockbrokers, investment advisors, and I really started to get engaged in what these fields and careers looked like. But, during that time I turned professional in golf and got my player’s card, so I accelerated my degrees and took 21 credit hours my final semester to get out because I had a job at a golf course. At the end of that, I overloaded my career to save money and finish my college education. I was more positioned for my business and my golf skills than I was for a career in the finance industry.
Q: What did you do before Howard Bailey? Talk about your journey from college to now at Howard Bailey?
A: That was an exciting, difficult time for me because when you’re a golf professional, you don’t have the time to play every day. You’re running the business. You’re doing the marketing, the purchasing, you’re running the books, you’re running a true business and you had to find time to play on the side. I got good enough after six years of playing as a club pro to have the opportunity to have private investors behind me and then I had an injury that took me out of the game. I tell that story during our live events. Going to a walk-in clinic to them not asking any questions, to not getting an x-ray to it being just a sprain, to fracturing it and going to a specialist, to them telling me my golfing career is over. That’s really where I developed my “Plan B” in life. I wanted to be able to say, “Whatever happens in life, I have this if it comes into play.” My career in golf ended 20 years ago. I did some reflection and talked to different people from different fields to figure out what I could excel in. I had the major in finance, so I interviewed at multiple companies and came to this career. After my first employer got acquired by another company, I had an opportunity to join State Farm as a consultant where I worked for 11 years. I developed the agent skillset in a property/casualty mindset into, “How can we help fulfill people’s financial needs, all-encompassing.” Not only taking care of the liability but also taking care of their financial future as well. After 11 years at State Farm, I went over to Edward Jones.
After about 18 months, some changes in my personal life made me realize I needed to leave the company. I wasn’t necessarily looking at Howard Bailey, but a headhunter reached out and connected me with Casey. I went and sat down with him and met with most of the team. I finally took that opportunity and helped develop and cultivate our permanent presence in Mishawaka. I was a salesman for 17 years, just selling a single tool or investment or policy, but nobody ever had a proper plan in place. Casey and Howard Bailey provided the purpose-based framework for us to feel confident and successful every day in working with families.
Q: What do you like best about retirement planning? What drew you to retirement planning?
A: We have the confidence knowing that we are going to provide value to anybody we sit down with, whether they are 18 years old or 80 years old. We have the proper tools in place with the proper plans to add value and to provide education. Even if the person is a do-it-yourself-er and isn’t willing to come on board, we can provide them with all the education necessary to become successful on their own. Really, what lights me up in life is when two people identify that they need one another.
That’s really where I found my purpose in life. I understood financial independence at a young age, I understood what a Plan B was, but it was really having that encouragement when two people come together in a cohesive team approach. It’s not just us coming together in a one-on-one situation. It’s “Here’s our entire team, we’re going to work as hard as we can.” And then we have all the resources behind them. We finally have that true family structure to be able to help people in their greatest time of need. No matter what transpires in their situation, I know at the end of the day I can sleep well at night and spend time with my family knowing that the families that we’ve taken care of have a proper plan in place.
Q: What is your favorite part about meeting a new client?
A: I love finding out what gets them going in the morning. Finding out where their enthusiasm is and finding out their meaning and purpose. A lot of people have a hard time deciphering what that really is. It’s more about your shorter term goals. What do you want to accomplish today? What do you want to learn from us? When we start identifying who they are and make that connection, that’s when the excitement comes to play. When somebody is willing to put aside all their past relationships and opens up, you can find out what makes them tick every day.
Q: What are some tips you have for pre-retirees and retirees looking at getting a financial planner?
A: Anyone looking for a financial advisor should be excited about who they are working with every day. They need to have trust and confidence, not only in their experience but also in the team that is structured support and answer their questions. Their advisor should be available at any time to answer their client’s questions. They need to ask the difficult questions and help the client feel comfortable throughout the entire process. It all comes down to trust, relationship, and the proper plan in place. Whoever they choose as their advisor, they should know the reason they are putting their money in a specific spot, they should know the benefit, they should understand the cost of that. They should know precisely the reason for what they are doing.
Q: What has been the most rewarding part about working at Howard Bailey?
A: I find the relationships that we’ve built throughout the years very rewarding. The structure we have in place, the family environment, we can have open conversations with anyone on the team and we are all living our lives together. Even though we aren’t at the same office, we can always talk on the phone or a video call if we have any questions. We all work together cohesively towards all the inherent goals at the end of the day, and that’s to provide value to the families we serve. We’re all striving for the same success.
Q: What is the most rewarding part of working with clients?
A: In general, I love having the confidence to tell clients that everything will be fine and that they can walk away from the stress in life and retire. We’ve built in every avenue and every escape for them. We have their Plan B. It doesn’t matter who the president is or what taxes look like. We’ve laid out a structure showing how their plan will work out over the next year, three years, five years, ten years. They love you for that at the end of the day.
Q: What’s next for you as a financial advisor and at Howard Bailey?
A: I’m trying to find the time to complete my Certified Financial Planner® and then start pursuing more designations. I would love to, on a personal level, double the number of clients we are helping in Mishawaka. I firmly believe we can continue to grow and help a higher and higher number of people each year. A professional goal of mine would be to take those stories I hear from clients and get them to share them with those that they trust and love. And that leads to referrals, when clients want us to help their friends and family because they trust us and the plans we have created. That would secure their position in life and the impact in life that we make with them daily.referrals, when clients want us to help their friends and family because they trust us and the plans we have created. That would secure their position in life and the impact in life that we make with them daily
Q: What are some of your favorite things to do/places to go in the Mishawaka area?
A: I’m an Elkhart native. I’ve lived all over the country, but I’ve always called Elkhart my home. Our family supports the local economy as much as we can, from the local jewelry store to the local restaurants, to Hennie’s Back Barn, where I was a cook at age 16. The local restaurants and that flavor of the hometown, homegrown experience here are who we try to support. My kids have been home from college, so it’s been rewarding to be more of an influence on their lives again. Not only with their finances, but just their enjoyment.
We spend a lot of time on the river. I live on the Upper St. Joe River. We have an old pontoon and our favorite thing to do as a family is to take a sunset cruise and take a meal with us on the boat. When we aren’t on the river, my wife and I love traveling to Mexico, that’s our favorite destination. In our spare time, I’ve found fishing and started to migrate away from golf a bit. I still like to play competitively on occasion. I like to be outdoors and tinker all day long. The second I’m out of the office, I’m outdoors all the time. Whether that be walking our dogs or playing fetch in the yard or being in the pool or river, my favorite thing to do is be social with people that live in our community.
My big passion in our community is working with the faith mission. We’ve talked about some financial strategies, building blocks, and education. I love going in and listening to their stories and their history, what brought them there and what they are trying to accomplish in life. I don’t have a counseling background but a lot of the time they just want somebody to hear their story. I try to do that at least once a month.
Q: What does your perfect day off look like?
A: On the beach in Maroma, Mexico.
Q: What is your purpose in meaning?
A: My purpose is to ensure people have a “Plan-B” in life, no matter what their situation is. I create meaning through helping others discover the value of utilizing one another as resources to stay centered in life.