Today I consider myself one of the luckiest men alive.  Birthdays and anniversaries are occasions for reflection—today is my birthday, and it’s also time to complete the Annual Minutes for the corporation.

The satisfaction of working as an independent advisor has been more than I could imagine when I threw caution to the wind and hung a shingle in 1994.

Arriving at this point in time was not inevitable because I did not have a vocational dream like some of my peers.  I majored in in accounting in college, which was a safe and practical choice.  Following a brief stint in graduate school, I got a job in Nashville working for one of the major national accounting firms, but I never found deep satisfaction in tax accounting.

The thought of a more fulfilling career crept into my consciousness during my late twenties and early thirties. To imagine work in terms of vocation or calling or “right livelihood” was a foreign concept when I was younger.

Working with clients has been an honor and privilege with intangible benefits far beyond any expectations I may have had when I began the business.


Alignment with clients’ interests endows us with purpose.  Commitment to the fiduciary standard—a thorough-going, undivided devotion to client interests—has been unifying.  Genuine loyalty lifts business relationships to a higher plane.  A discussion of The Philosophy of Loyalty by Harvard philosopher Josiah Royce provides background on how an ethic of loyalty imparts an increase in meaning and purpose.  Loyalties “tend to unify life, give it center, fixity, and stability

[emphasis added].”

Our loyalty to clients is defined by the fiduciary standard.  Supreme Court Justice Harlan Stone said about the Fiduciary Principle:

I venture to assert that when the history of the financial era which has just drawn to a close comes to be written, most of its mistakes and its major faults will be ascribed to the failure to observe the fiduciary principle, the precept as old as holy writ, that ‘a man cannot serve two masters.’ More than a century ago equity gave a hospitable reception to that principle and the common law was not slow to follow in giving it recognition.   No thinking man can believe than an economy built on a business foundation can permanently endure without some loyalty to that principle.

For a synopsis of Royce’s Philosophy of Loyalty:  Click Here


The work itself is satisfying—even inspiring.  David Brooks of The New York Times describes well the nature of inspired work, which stands apart from normal life. The intrinsic nature of the work itself takes hold of a person, when the mind and spirit take flight and the senses are amplified.  These moments feel transcendent, uncontrollable, and irresistible.  When one is inspired, time disappears and alters its pace.  Click here to read the full article


Getting a Boost Up the Ladder of Success.  A livelihood comes from working, but success often depends on a combination of education, ability, work habits and connections.  Through connections and referral, some great clients have found us along the way.  In this New York Times article, Ben Stein—lawyer, writer, actor, and economist—describes the importance of those who gave him a boost along the way.  Click here to read the full article


We hope you enjoy reading these articles.  Please forward to your family and friends.

Disclosure – The articles mentioned in This Week with J. Mark Nickell & Co. are for information and educational purposes only. They represent a sample of the numerous articles that the firm reads each week to stay current on financial and economic topics. The articles are linked to websites separate from the J. Mark Nickell & Co. website. The opinions expressed in these articles are the opinions of the author and not J. Mark Nickell & Co. This is not an offer to buy or sell any security.  J. Mark Nickell & Co. is under no obligation to update any of the information in these articles. We cannot attest to the accuracy of the data in the articles.