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Springfield, MO

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A Conversation With ... Ronald Smouse

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Tell us about your company, which hits the one-year mark this month.

There's just me and Leslie Barr, who is my secretary and right-hand lady and a registered representative. Jeff Vincent has an office upstairs. ... He came to me, and I helped him get signed up with LPL Financial, which is the company I service now. We got him started about the first of November. He's kind of on his own, but I oversee (things) to make sure the trades are done properly (and) all compliance issues are met. I have about 140 tax clients and 450 investment clients.

After college and working for the IRS for several years, you returned to your native Iowa. What brought you back to Springfield and led to the opening of your business?

The weather and the city. I was in Iowa on a Thanksgiving eve, and the wind chill was 72 below zero, and we had a blizzard outside, and asked myself, "Why am I staying here?" We moved back here in 1993, and I went to work for (Jackson & Jackson PC CPAs) in the tax department ... and in 2000, I decided to get into the financial services side. So I quit the CPA firm and (entered) banking. I started out at Commercial Federal first, but then, they sold the bank. ... So I helped set up the financial (services) department at Mid-Missouri Bank, and in October (2007), they closed the investment department down, and it kind of forced me to open my own office, which I'm glad they did.

Why did you decide to do both financial advising and tax returns?

I got into the financial-investment side in 1984 ... but I could not get taxes out of my system. I still love to do tax returns. Really, when you look at a client who sits down with a financial planner (for) investments, taxes are very crucial, because if you put them in a taxable situation, and they're (in a) high bracket, they pay a lot of tax. You might want to put them into tax-free bonds or something of that nature. Having the 35-plus years (of experience) doing tax returns, as well as doing investments, it's a perfect fit.

What financial-planning vehicles do you offer?

I offer mutual funds, stocks, bonds. I sold a lot of individual corporate bonds in the last couple of years. I offer alternative investments, which a lot of people don't have, and those could be real estate investment trusts ... and I also sold Atlas, which is an oil and natural gas drilling partnership. Those are nice (because) you can write off up to 89.5 percent of your first-year's investment. ... I'm not a stock specialist, but if a client comes in and wants to buy some stocks, I'll help him (and) manage his portfolio, but I'm not really a stock picker. I (sell) a lot of variable annuities, too.

How has the market affected your work?

There's some hand-holding. It's been a tough four months. September started it, and then in October, we had the big down-swing in the market, and every day, we were seeing 600-, 700-, 800-point swings with the Dow. It was a disaster, and a lot of people called just wanting confidence with where they're at. We did some switching for some people if their risk level changed or they didn't want to lose any more, so we moved them ... until the market turns around. ... The risk level changes when the market changes. And when the market was going down substantially, the panic hit.

What goals do you have for your business?

I want to increase my tax-return client base up to about 300, and I want to increase my assets under management by 10 percent to 15 percent in 2009. I now have around $25 million (under management).

Tell us about your family and your hobbies.

My wife, Pam, works at Chase in the activation department. I have six kids, five boys and a girl ... and five granddaughters and one grandson. We now have our 4-year-old granddaughter, Shyley, living with us. She's been with us two years. We go to Lady Bears games. I do like to golf ... and (we go to) a few Cardinals games. I love sports (but) I don't participate anymore.

Interview by Features Editor Maria Hoover.[[In-content Ad]]

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