Class of 1983
By Nyssa Aoki
For Barry Mark, the goals of his profession are centered on helping other people to reach their goals. As a financial advisor and franchise owner with Ameriprise Financial Services, Inc., his challenge is to help people reach financial milestones such as a secure retirement or funding a child’s college education. His job is to survey the vast landscape of financial products and services, and devise a package, which may include investment management, financial planning, and insurance protection that is tailored to accomplish the financial goals of a particular client. January 9th marked the first anniversary of his Ameriprise office. He joined the company in the Fall of 2003 when it was still named American Express Financial Advisors after working his way up through the ranks of the financial services marketplace at Shearson Lehman Hutton, AXA advisors and American Savings Investment Services Corporation. It took more than seven years in the investment industry before he earned the opportunity to become an owner and operator of his own financial planning practice.
Admission to this field began in the same way for Barry as for other financial advisors. The road does not start with sales, marketing, or business management. It starts by demonstrating professional competency as measured and determined by four different industry tests. The first test, Life and Health Insurance resident producer exam, is administered by the State of Hawaii Insurance Division. The other three tests are administered by the National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD): Series 63, Uniform Securities Agent State law Exam; Series 65, Uniform Investment Advisor Law Exam; and Series 7, General Securities Representative Exam.
As a licensed financial advisor, a normal day at the office for this WHS alumnus isn’t what you would call routine. Every weekday morning, his work begins at 5:00 am, monitoring financial markets via the Internet from his home. His office is staffed by an associate financial advisor and two part time planning assistants. From 7:30 am to 10:00 am he and his associate financial advisor review client portfolios and make adjustments as necessary to meet the close of the major securities exchanges on the East Coast. The ensuing mid-morning period is normally used to review the corresponding paperwork for the previous day’s activities before a planning assistant makes copies for on-site files and mails the originals to the Minneapolis corporate office for processing. The other planning assistant also uses this part of the day to schedule appointments several days in advance with clients to review the performance of their portfolios and gauge the progress made towards reaching their goals. The early afternoon is used to quantitatively prepare for the most immediate set of client appointments. Since these meetings must also accommodate the busy schedules of his clients, most appointments are held between 3:00 pm and 6:00 pm on weekdays or throughout the day on Saturdays.
Barry was the salutatorian of the class of 1983 and was a member of WHS’s 1982 BIIF championship teams in basketball and baseball. While one might expect one of those events to be cited as his most memorable moment, he maintains his fondest high school memory is being part of his senior class skit in the annual WHS Follies. He was cast as a punk rocker in contrast with his personality and the experience of acting “out of character” proved an unexpected platform for self-discovery. The skit, a parody of prom night foibles turned out to be a smash hit and taught him that there was no greater reward in life than being able to make someone smile and laugh.
Barry first got interested in pursuing his career after attending Boston University, which is located in the middle of metropolitan Boston. Campus life at an urban-based school included the “hustle and bustle” of city life. After leaving Hilo with the intent of becoming an aeronautical engineer, the impressions and experiences introduced by urban life coalesced into a more profound interest in business, finance and politics. Even after more than a decade since leaving the East Coast, the study of economics and markets still holds the same sense of captivation for Barry.
While financial services proved to be the career path that ultimately proved to be the best fit, Barry was fortunate to have also held positions as special assistant to Massachusetts State Senator Bill Owens, fluid systems & field applications specialist for Massachusetts based manufacturing firm A.W. Chesterton, and PGA apprentice golf professional at the Hilo Municipal Golf Course. In his opinion, these varied experiences are what make it possible for him to play the dual role of business owner and financial advisor. From his point of view, business is not just about how much you know but learning how those lessons can be successfully applied in the marketplace to make a living. In the end, the unvarnished measure of success is simply being able to pay your way in life and to be comfortable in your skin.
One of the things that Barry likes best about being a Financial Advisor is the fact he is able derive a livelihood from using his interests to provide solutions that can meaningfully affect the lives of others. It also gives him enough flexibility to give back to the community by allowing him to serve as treasurer for the Waiakea Lions Club and as a director on the Board of the Hilo Medical Center Foundation. Looking forward, Barry will be getting married this year to his fiancée Jill Brown and is anticipating the rewards of family life with her 12-year old son Sean and the possibility of an addition in the near future. Other than making more time to spend with his parents, Gary and Vivian, he does not have any complaints. In fact, Barry counts his blessings for the wonderful place in life that he wakes up to find every morning. There can be little doubt that this WHS graduate enjoys what he does for a living and that he looks forward to doing it for many years to come.