When Jeff Layman joined BKD Wealth Advisors LLC in 2000, little did he know two major bear markets would hit within the next decade.
But those challenges did not deter Layman and his fellow partners in a practice that has grown to include offices in six cities.
“As a leader of a wealth-management firm, my proudest accomplishment has been successfully navigating our clients and our employees through the most significant economic and market downturn of the last 80 years,” says Layman, who is chief investment officer. “The decline from late 2007 through early 2009 … was so severe that missteps in decision making, strategy or execution could have compromised the financial security of our clients and also could have significantly impaired our business.”
Despite a cumulative 57 percent drop in stock prices during that time, BKD Wealth Advisors maintained through careful and strategic leadership.
“Not only did our firm survive this period with minimal client attrition, but we have since grown assets under management by more than 40 percent from the pre-recession peak … (and) grown to $2.3 billion in assets under management and provided opportunities for more than 50 professionals and staff,” Layman says.
Layman began his career in investment management in 1987 after graduating magna cum laude with a finance degree from Missouri State University, where he also earned a Master of Business Administration. He started with Boatmen’s Bank and continued there for 13 years through mergers with NationsBank and Bank of America, where he was a senior portfolio manager.
In 1998, Layman became a chartered financial analyst, a designation achieved through completion of a three-year program covering equity and fixed income analyses, portfolio management, accounting, economics, derivatives and ethics.
“I’m proud to have five other chartered financial analysts on our team, given the difficulty of achieving this designation and the professional esteem associated with it,” Layman says. “Five members of my portfolio team have now been with BKD Wealth Advisors for more than 10 years, which is a success for them and for our firm.”
He seeks to influence people by first walking a path he encourages others to follow.
“Setting a good example, whether related to work ethic, professional and ethical behavior, work-life balance or community contribution, is the most effective means of communicating and reinforcing the values that I believe will help people achieve success,” he says.
Layman’s reach into the community focuses largely on children. Seeing a need in the foster care system, Layman and his wife became foster parents in the early 2000s.
“We welcomed several kids into our home over the years, sometimes for a period of days and other times for much longer,” he says. “This was a very gratifying experience for our family.”
That led to Layman’s appointment to the Missouri Court Appointed Special Advocates Association board. He also serves on the boards of Arc of the Ozarks and Springfield Catholic Schools; has rejoined the investment committee of the Breast Cancer Foundation of the Ozarks; and sits on the finance and general business advisory board at MSU.[[In-content Ad]]