Author Archives: Haws Goodwin

The Boss: Art Haws, HawsGoodwin Financial

Nashville Business Journal Profile of Art Haws. Click on this link for a short video that accompanied the article.

Art Haws and colleague Cam Goodwin launched their wealth management firm the month before the financial crisis reached its peak. The former Merrill Lynch alums have since grown their firm, HawsGoodwin Financial, to nearly $225 million in assets under management, making it one of the bigger independent shops in Nashville. Outside the office, Haws is a music aficionado and Vanderbilt University basketball fan. Ask him about his college band. They apparently were a pretty big deal on the Kentucky college circuit.

What does the firm have in store for the year ahead? The year before last we started a group benefits division. We do a fair amount of corporate 401(k) work. We found the same decision maker who makes the 401(k) decisions tends to make the rest of the benefits. So we felt that was a good complement. That continues to grow. This past year, we introduced a new product offering designed for what we call emerging investors — typically young professionals that understand the importance of savings and investing. They’ll be good clients for our wealth management division and we’re starting the relationships with them earlier. And we’re continuing to grow our traditional wealth management, which is the largest part of the firm.

What attracted you to the finance industry? My dad and I used to talk about it. My dad got interested in investing when I was 12 years old. He was a big sports fan, so he always talked to me about sports and statistics. He was a baseball junkie. And then he got interested in investment. So we would talk about that.

What are your sports teams? When my youngest was born, I knew I needed to have some things for my other two kids to do while she was growing up. So I got season tickets to Vanderbilt basketball. [I’ve been] an avid fan of theirs for the past 12 years. Everything Commodores — basketball and football, too. Growing up in Western Kentucky, it’s required to be a St. Louis Cardinals baseball fan, which I am. Until I moved to Tennessee, I didn’t realize the rest of the SEC cared about football. I thought everybody loved basketball like they do up in Kentucky.

What are some of your hobbies outside of the office? I’m a frustrated golfer. But I enjoy playing. I’m an avid music lover. I play guitar, except when I moved to Nashville I quickly learned I was a guitar owner. You better be careful telling people in this town you’re a guitar player. But I played in a band in college. I used to be a pretty avid runner prior to tearing my ACL. I’ve done the Nashville marathon and half-marathons a gazillion times. I tore my ACL two years ago and that’s limited my running.

What was your band in college? What did you play? The Flying Leathernecks. We were in the fraternity that John Wayne was in. We were sitting in the house one day, and one of the cable channels came on advertising that movie, “The Flying Leathernecks,” with John Wayne. And I said, “That’s our name.” And sure enough, it stuck. But we played a little bit of everything. … That was in the late ’80s, so we played R.E.M., some Rolling Stones and U2. A lot of crowd pleasers.

Do you get to play much guitar anymore? I do occasionally. But I got my son interested in it, not necessarily intentionally. I taught him everything I knew in about a month, and then he really took off. He’s currently touring with a band right now, so I like to follow and listen to him play. I like to hear live music around town. That’s one of the things I love about this area is there are so many great performers and places to go.

What are some of your favorite places to go catch a concert? Some of the big concerts that come through are fun. But certainly smaller places like 3rd and Lindsley, even the Station Inn, are great. We paid $10 one night to see Jack Pearson there. He used to play with the Allman Brothers. He walks out and starts playing, and the guy accompanying him is Tommy Emmanuel, who has been voted the best classical guitarist. And here I paid $10 to get in, which was almost a joke. The new [Ascend] Amphitheater is great, too.

What led you to start this firm? Cam [Goodwin] and I work together prior to Merrill Lynch. And he came over there in 2004. We always built our business around the client and not around products. We weren’t very good product sales people, either one of us. But we liked the investment piece and the client side. So we just built a business that was focused on that. We structured our compensation so we were on the same side of the table as our clients. I think both of us had that entrepreneurial spirit that we wanted to run our own place. Merrill was a great place to work. I enjoy the business of the business. I like the client piece of it. I like helping people solve problems. But I also like running the business itself and thinking about things strategically. I get a lot of enjoyment out of that.

Was there a moment when this idea crystalized? We didn’t just decide one day it would be neat to have our own firm. We spent a lot of time. and did a lot of research. We spent over a year just talking about going independent. We met with other firms and tried to understand what it would look like, how we would do that. We modeled everything based on bringing all of our clients over, bringing half of our clients over, strong market conditions and weak market conditions. We were trying to make a smart decision. Leaving a firm like Merrill is a leap of faith because you don’t tell your clients until you tell the firm. I don’t think we modeled a 40 to 50 percent drop in the stock market, which is pretty much what happened.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve received over the years? I sat down with a CPA that I highly respect, when I was thinking about starting this company. And his message was really about building a company around doing the right thing. He encouraged me to do that. He said, it may take longer at first.

What was your first job growing up? I worked in my family’s sporting goods store. And I did that for a long time. I probably started when I was in middle school. I probably learned more then about working with people as I have in anything. That was in Kentucky. My second job was when I learned about life. I worked in the collections area of one of the banks in Paducah. So we had to call people who had installment loans on things like cars, VCRs at the times, televisions and mobile homes. As I told my dad at the time, I learned you couldn’t live on love with that job. That was tough.

What’s your impression on the growth happening in Nashville? I’ve always really enjoyed Nashville. Coming from a relatively small town, Nashville and St. Louis were closer to where I grew than Louisville. This area has always attracted me. It’s always been a regionally strong financial center. Quality of life here, you can’t beat it. I, like everyone, wants to see smart growth and understands the challenges of more and more people coming in. You hope we can maintain that balance.

What do you know now about starting your own company that you wish you knew before? I wish we had done it earlier. I think a lot of people say that. I think I’ve learned how important it is to hire right. We strongly work under the good to great model here. You hire the right people instead of for positions.

How would describe your leadership style? My management philosophy is to hire good people and let them do their jobs. It’s fun to see people grow in their skills and in their positions. I get a lot of personal satisfactions out of that. Hire good folks, hold them accountable, but let them do their jobs and resist the temptation to micro-manage. I also like to hire people with different skill sets. One thing about my business partnership with Cam that I think has worked so well, we approach problems and challenges and projects from two totally different directions — as far as our thoughts processes. We’re not afraid to challenge each others ideas and thoughts, in a healthy way. You really learn the benefits of getting multiple opinions and insights into making a decision.

What would you like the company to look like five years out? From a metrics standpoint, I’d like to see in the next five years to definitely get to half-a-billion in assets under management. Five to seven years, I’d like to be at $1 billion. We’re currently just under $225 million. As we grow, I’d look to share the ownership of this company with employees so they look at this as not just a job and they have ownership. Right now, Cam and I are the owners.

What makes you laugh? Dry, quick humor makes me laugh.

Things to watch: Volatility, The Fed, Inflation and the Dollar

Art Haws | NBJ Guest Column | March 3, 2016

The recent volatility proves that global markets are adjusting and correcting on an almost minute-by-minute basis, and as we know from experience, the U.S. economy is increasingly subject to global activity.

Here are a few things that U.S. investors need to watch in the wake of this volatility:

In December, the Federal Reserve raised the federal funds rate by .25, which is the first hike since June of 2006. The rate went to zero in December 2008 and stayed there until December 2015. Although markets have been challenging to say the least coming into 2016, Janet Yellen indicates that the Fed expects to continue modest increases in the fed funds rate. Gradual increases can be beneficial for equity markets as it indicates confidence from the Fed.

The hope is to maintain what is known as a normal yield curve. This indicates that short-term debt yields remain lower than long-term yields. Essentially, the curve tracks U.S Treasuries yields by maturity which can range from three months to 30 years. If the Fed can continue to raise short-term rates and market forces move longer term yields higher as well, that will signify an increasingly healthy economy and usually creates positive opportunities for investors.

An inverted yield curve means that short-term debt yields are higher than long-term yields. This is not a good situation and typically means that some form of recession is looming anywhere from six to 12 months out. Not always, of course, but it does have historical credibility.

Another thing to monitor is an unexpected spike in inflation. Those who were working in the late ’70s and early ’80s will recall the tumultuous economic climate overseen by Paul Volcker who served as the Chairman of the Federal Reserve. A rapid increase of inflation — particularly wage inflation — would force the Fed to raise short-term rates faster and in larger increments which would most likely hurt stocks and bonds.

Finally, the rate hike could lead to continued strength in the U.S. dollar which makes our goods and services more expensive for outside investors. Good for importers. Conversely, a strong dollar can challenge U.S. exporters. Considering our currency’s strong global position, now may be a good time to research foreign investment opportunities.

The rate hike is an overall positive development as it relates to the U.S. Economy. It will require consistent monitoring and attention, but more than anything, it demonstrates our country’s resilience in tough times, and our economy’s ability to regain a dominant global position.

Evaluating Your Medical Plan Renewal — Tips to Consider

By Tom Weatherman | Director of Insurance Services

The ever changing world of employee health benefits can make year-end planning for business owners a very hectic time of the year. Trying to balance compliance issues with doing what is best for your professional team has become increasingly complicated. Proactive planning and understanding the benefit landscape are important factors for starting off the new year on the right foot. Here are some tips to follow as we begin closing out the 2015 business calendar.

Schedule a meeting with your broker.

Your group medical renewal typically arrives between 45 and 60 days prior to the renewal deadline. That may seem like a lot of time, but depending on how complex your benefits program is, you are better off coordinating your strategy with your broker sooner rather than later.

Your broker should walk you through all relevant compliance issues, help you evaluate various carrier plan options, and ensure that your renewal submission is in order. This is also a time to talk about the big picture as it relates to your company’s growth trajectory and how that will align with the benefits you plan on offering.

Navigating and Reporting to the IRS

For employers who have more than 50 employees, your information reporting is submitted through a single form known as the 1095-C. Employers with 50 employees or less are exempt from the Affordable Care Act’s employer responsibility provision and are therefore exempt from the employer reporting provision. As an aside, for “small” business owners who are self-insured, you may be subject to IRS reporting and should communicate with your broker to determine your obligation. 

A second type of reporting is the Qualifying Offer Method. As a business owner, if you provide a qualifying offer — a bronze level or higher benefit plan where the cost to the employee for employee‐only coverage is less than about $1,100 in 2015 — you can take advantage of this reporting structure. A caveat for this type of reporting method is that the employer must also offer the plan to all members of the employee’s family.

If an employer offers qualifying benefits to an employee for all 12 months of the year, the employer is required to report only the name, addresses, and tax ID number for that particular employee. They are not subject to monthly reporting. If an employee receives a qualifying offer for fewer than 12 months of any given year, the employer will utilize a pre-defined code to report each month that a qualifying offer was made.

Getting Ahead

Now that your head is swimming with codes, qualifications and various methods of reporting, it should be abundantly clear that coordinating your benefits renewal plan requires someone who is intimately familiar with the intricacies and regulations that accompany providing health coverage for your employees. It’s a lot to digest, but not impossible to manage.

Be smart and don’t wait until the last minute to address your strategy. Getting your shop in order at the end of the year is frenzied enough without trying to make sense of the rules and regulations set forth by the IRS; not to mention that its very important that your employees feel secure that their benefit package is in order for the coming year.

WSJ Daily Briefing Picks-up HawsGoodwin Commentary

Keep robo and traditional planning separate to succeed. Art Haws always felt there was an underserved market for financial advice in Nashville, but many individuals in the area didn’t have enough assets to make them profitable clients for most advisory firms, the Franklin, Tenn.-based financial adviser tells InvestmentNews. His firm is now serving smaller clients through Prosper, a digital advice service based on the automated offering from Charles Schwab Corp.SCHW +0.55% Mr. Haws suggests advisers market new automated platforms separately from their main financial planning operation in order to avoid cannibalizing existing clients.

Adviser’s Consultant: Separate your robo and traditional planning offers to succeed in two markets

Art Haws always felt there was an underserved market for financial advice in Nashville.

The Tennessee capital has been growing and creating new prosperity in recent years, but many individuals still did not have enough assets to make them profitable clients for most advisory firms. The average new client of his own firm, HawsGoodwin Financial, has $1.5 million to $2 million to invest.

So as soon as technology advanced to where he could efficiently serve a larger number of smaller clients, he and co-founder Cam Goodwin jumped at the chance.

Today, that line of business is called Prosper, a digital advice platform the advisory firm branded based on the automated offering from Charles Schwab Corp. Prosper, unveiled about two months ago, has its own website with a different feel than the firm’s core advisory site, and the new unit does more marketing on social-media platforms.

Prosper’s clients, who average 37 years old, are older than Mr. Haws expected. He had presumed it would attract clients in their 20s and early 30s.


“We learned it’s not really about a demographic, it’s really behavioral,” Mr. Haws said. “It’s about how they want to do business.”

The firm also concluded that while these individuals like technology, they also want to talk to humans.

Prosper, which has a $5,000 minimum, includes two phone or online reviews a year and allows users to call the office with questions. Full-blown financial plans cost beyond the regular fee, which is 0.5% a year and is assessed quarterly. HawsGoodwin Financial’s traditional clients, on the other hand, pay 1.5% on assets less than $250,000.

Mr. Haws hopes that three to five Prosper clients a year will ultimately transition into the firm’s main wealth management business.

“It’s a great way to capitalize on the technology and start building the relationships with who we have coined as emerging investors,” he said. “It’s nice to be able to talk to that target market. Their options have been so limited until now.”

Tip sheet:

  • Consider whether any platforms are available at a discounted cost or with technical assistance through existing relationships with broker-dealers, custodians or other vendors that are already partners with the firm. Cost is important because clients will pay the platform fee plus any fee imposed by the adviser.
  • Look for digital platforms with open architecture and consider how well it will integrate into the advisory firm’s current systems, as well as how customizable it is. For instance, can it be accessed through a mobile app?
  • Examine the investment flexibility of the automated platform to make sure it offers a wide variety of exchange-traded funds or other options to include in portfolios.
  • Plan separate marketing efforts for the robo-service to help avoid cannibalizing existing clients. Make it distinctively different.
  • Consider adding a new adviser or naming an existing adviser at the firm to be the person responsible for helping these new clients with questions or expanded financial help.
  • Expect to make an investment of money (spending on marketing, web design, etc.) as well as a lot of time getting the new venture off the ground.

The Power of a Plan

Strive to be financially prepared in retirement. A retirement plan consists of establishing income goals, gathering and assessing personal financial data, and following specific recommendations designed to help you achieve those goals.