What Matters The Most

What Matters The Most 

Our team at CIS appreciates that the unique way we respond to even the most personal request, question, conversation or need directly influences outcomes for our clients every day. Aside from the markets themselves, the people serving clients can be the most variable and valuable factor in wealth management. There are clear research methods, market philosophies and fundamental standards for how we invest, but the qualitative and most human component of our approach makes all the difference.

So, we asked ourselves: “What makes us uniquely effective as a service culture for our clients, what makes us a truly trusted team, and at the end of the day…what really matters the most to us and to our clients?” The answers we found have to do as much with who we are as people as who we are as professionals.

Resoundingly, we all agree that we are natural advocates for our clients and that the simple wellbeing of others is a priority at work, within our team, and in our personal lives.

How do we know?

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Carrie Coghill, CFP®, AIF® 

“I believe that the more satisfied a person is fully, the more productive they will be at work. Whatever I can do to foster our team’s development as a whole benefits everyone, especially the client.”  

Caring about the client is at the cornerstone of what we do; therefore, it is the responsiveness and dedication of our team that dictates our responsibility to clients. Demonstrating care through thoughtful actions, and upholding trusted procedures consistently is what defines our client service culture as a team.

I am grateful to be able to say that our team operates successfully in this care-based model due to who they are as people—on every level of personal and professional quality. We are all believers that honesty and transparency build trust. So we openly look at our work for clients from all angles and present the potential outcomes or opportunities.  Read more...

Professional Leadership

The leadership approach taken at CIS is focused on ensuring that the talent within the organization is developed from all angles. Mentoring and guiding the individuals within the organization to be the best they can be, both professionally and personally, is a priority.  Ultimately, the people that benefit the most from this are our clients.

Having strong leaders within the company allows me to not only continue to strategically position the company, but also continue to drive what I do the best and love the most: researching complex ideas and economic theory to unearth issues of our world—known and unknown—that affect our work. I am always searching for the truth in all the things that matter when investing. I take the unknown and layer on the complexity of a global perspective. I think about things through the eyes, concerns, and priorities of our clients.

Personal Investments

I believe that as a team we can use our success to communicate and activate change in the community. I’ve learned that along with success comes credibility. Utilizing this credibility as a platform to engage with others to address challenges within our community and for the good of humanity is a responsibility that I take seriously. Engagement puts you at the table with other leadership minds from a very diverse field of influence. Conversations and gained insights from these interactions enrich my own perspective and my leadership in this industry. New ideas come from anywhere and getting out of our own bubble to think differently about different markets, different industries and different viewpoints enrich our work invaluably.

Commitments that help others and help me grow personally and professionally:

  • Magee Women’s Research Institute and Foundation – Chair of the Board
  • Magee Women’s Hospital – Board member
  • Robert Morris University – Vice-Chair of the Board, Co-Founder-Women’s Mentorship and Leadership Program
  • International Women’s Forum – Member
  • United Way Women’s Leadership Council - Member

 

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Michael Cooley, CFP®, AIF® 

“I knew when I was in the 10th grade that I wanted to be in this industry. My natural curiosity to see how personalized investment strategies can help people is engrained in both my personal and professional character.”  

I stared in 1995 at Federated Investors with institutions, brokers, bank, trusts. But, what was missing was the connection between my investment knowledge and the impact this knowledge could have on a client. This is a gap I was committed to closing for my professional deepening - I wanted to marry the investment knowledge with client interaction to better understand the meaning and impact of our work. CIS empowered me to explore a more client-facing opportunity in a firm that was nimble enough to help mentor and grow. Focusing 100 percent on client relationships without the stifling bureaucracy present within larger institutions. Read more...

Historically, our industry was one-advisor focused which can be limited in providing a holistic approach to managing wealth. But, at CIS, we take a team approach so we all have an active and informed lead on all areas of the client’s financial picture. Tax issues, financial goals, estate planning, everything that goes with it…we’re all in it together. This team approach allows us to marry the comprehensive view of our clients’ wealth strategy along with the unique expertise of individual advisors and support personnel. Team and collaboration is a way we expand our thinking and we leverage different views.

Professional Leadership

My unique passion within this industry centers around financial literacy and education. I enjoy helping people put the pieces of the puzzle together to make for a clear picture they can understand. Working on goal-planning strategy with clients and helping them achieve those goals is hugely rewarding. It’s why I’m here—to help them on that journey. I view financial planning in a way to address what’s most important to clients. When I have the opportunity to marry my investment knowledge with education for the client, and then put it all to work to help them feel fulfilled in their financial life, my day is made. Setting expectations and educating around such expectations and decisions is key.

Personal Investments

I have three children and they dictate a lot of my personal investment of time outside of the office. By marrying my professional and personal priorities, I find great joy in educating kids on financial literacy topics. Working on the best way to educate children on financial literacy enriches my understanding of how to work with and empower clients as well. We all need a place to start to find our stride and confidence in our financial life. I never take for granted that everyone is coming from a unique place with their own priorities and concerns.

Commitments that help others and help me grow personally and professionally:

  • Miracle League Baseball – Volunteer with my son to coach kids with disabilities.
  • Past Board Member for Economics Pennsylvania – Focused on financial literacy for kids K-12
  • Social Media Thought Leader – Educating society through social networks about the importance of financial literacy for children and adults. 

 

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Shana Bielich, CFP® 

“For me, it’s more about clients as people and helping them to meet their longer-term goals and objectives. I want to be an advisor who can be across the table from a client and provide empathy, helpful thought, and consideration.”  

I started in financial services on the institutional side, working with a large mutual fund company. I never knew the client impact or interaction side. My work now goes way beyond my institutional beginnings, working directly with individual people and their entire financial wellbeing. I want clients to feel they can trust me with everything.

I work to give clients a sense of satisfaction. My own satisfaction comes in seeing them meet goals and realize their dreams. It’s all about facilitating advice that can help them live a fulfilled life. I want to contribute to their success. That way, I feel successful. Read more...

The greatest joy I get is coming out of a really good meeting with a client. At the end of the day, it feels so gratifying and I can see the impact of the help I’m able to provide them.

Personal Investments

Personally, I instinctively enjoy helping people. My personal motivations to help a friend or family member in need extend to going the extra step for clients. This extra effort pays off in big ways and is an instinct that comes naturally to me.

I recently committed my time to a Global Habitat for Humanity project that changed my life.

CIS has given us the ability and power to do these types of things. We are empowered to take the time to give back and make a remarkable difference in our community and beyond. CIS is genuinely passionate about supporting our contributions to the betterment of our community.

This career is my passion and CIS is my family. They aren’t people I work with. They are family. Period. Clients are an extension of this family, and that’s how we want them to feel.

Professional Leadership

Being a woman and leader in this industry is unique. I look at this as a tremendous competitive advantage due to the natural characteristics that many women possess including being understanding, empathetic and good listeners. Using my personal and professional experience in the field, I am working to mentor and cultivate women advisor in order to see more diversity in our industry.   

My role as president of the Financial Planning Association definitely impacts what I do day-to-day. In this role, I am always listening, learning and growing. Hearing from other leaders in this industry helps me bring new learning and a new perspective back to my work.

Commitments that help others and help me grow personally and professionally:

  • Financial Planning Association of Pittsburgh, President - helping to develop Financial Advisors across our region by sharing knowledge and creating content for their continued growth
  • Girl’s Hope of Pittsburgh – providing value-centered, nurturing family-like home and quality education through college 
  • United Way of Pittsburgh – providing support to the overall well-being of our community
  • Nursing Home volunteer – My grandmother and her friends appreciate the company and I always learn from them. 

 

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Kristen Hemmings, FPQP 

 “At CIS, you feel you can really make a difference in the life of a client as well as in the firm itself. Ideas are heard and respected and the team approach allows for a lot of discussions and different points of view.”  

Early in my career, I unexpectedly found myself working in an investment firm. Although that wasn’t my original plan following college, I found myself intellectually curious and my affinity for the industry grew naturally from there.

My curiosity and education in communications is valuable to our team and to our clients. Working with team members to translate complex data and research in a way that is understandable to the clients provides me with a tremendous sense of gratification and is empowering to the client. Read more...

My operational + communications background has been my platform for working more directly with the team, collaborating about solutions, and working directly with clients. I love it!  At CIS, you feel you can really make a difference in the life of a client as well as in the firm itself.

Professional Leadership

Education and knowledge have always been at the center of my development. I began getting industry licenses and certifications early in my career and continue to pursue the most advanced learning that our industry has to offer.  In addition, mentorship and paying-it-forward is a core belief of mine.  I work within CIS and the community to help others develop their skills.

From a community perspective, I take on projects that can help to advance various causes.  In the past, I have served as the event chair for 2020 Women on Boards where I worked to help increase female representation on corporate boards to 20 percent. This work exposed me to many leaders in a diverse cross-section of our industry and beyond. It provided me with additional perspectives to the work I do at CIS and the importance of inclusion and diversity in everything we do, both personally and professionally.

Personal Investments

Caretaking is the lens through which I see the world. I can identify people’s challenges within their journey, which helps me in both my personal and professional life. My volunteer work, with United Way and many others, offers me new perspectives and shapes my worldview to see how life stages impact everyone differently. With clients, this exposure helps me to be empathetic about what’s most important to them and their families.   

I am also working on initiatives to support working mothers’ career advancement by examining diverse work-life balance strategies. Finding a balance between family and career is a challenge all parents face, particularly mothers, and I encourage women to seek strategic ways to move through the pipeline without sacrificing the precious moments raising children.

Commitments that help others and help me grow personally and professionally:

  • United Way – Women’s Leadership Council
  • 2020 Women on Boards – Event chair, Pittsburgh 
  • Animal Friends Fundraising efforts
  • Pittsburgh Prayer Breakfast – Steering Committee
  • Hello Neighbor Volunteering with refugees and immigrant families
  • Children’s Ministries Volunteer work helps me see different people at different stages and circumstances in life.