When Karl E. Byrd became a certified financial planner (CFP) in 1987, the profession was new. His CFP license was number 9,318 in the nation. He has watched the number of CFPs grow and is proud of the services the profession offers.
“It’s an important profession because it helps people organize their financial lives and defines what’s important to achieve,” he said. “It maps out a plan to help clients, and for me it’s a privilege to give advice to my clients.”
Byrd, a Jackson native, was an honors scholar in business management at Mississippi State University. He began his working life in financial services on the insurance side. It wasn’t what he wanted to do, and in 1977, he became involved with financial planning because clients were asking him questions that were not product related.
“I wanted to put myself in a position to better prepare to give that advice, so I looked for training,” he recalls. “I studied through the College for Financial Planning in Denver, Colo. They sent me textbooks and study materials.”
He sat for the professional examination at Mississippi College. He obtained a series seven securities license and is a registered principal with the National Association of Security Dealers. Now a senior vice president of Security Ballew Inc. and Ballew Russell, a registered investment advisory firm, Byrd specializes in comprehensive financial planning, investment advisory services and retirement plan management.
“I have not regretted the change I made to become a certified financial planner,” he said. “It is rewarding to see people I’ve worked with for 20 to 25 years reach their goals, putting aside money for their children’s degrees and retiring comfortably. Now, I’m helping children of clients.”
He is active with the Mississippi Financial Planning Association, having served as the group’s first president and again as president another term. He also was president of the International Association of Financial Planning.
“Now, everyone has heard of certified financial planners,” he says. “There was a time when people weren’t familiar with it. It is recognized as a profession now.”
After being in the profession 30 years, Byrd gets a lot of calls — many investor related — in the course of a day. Because his days are so varied, it’s hard to describe a typical day. On a recent day, he met with a medical group regarding its buy/sell agreement and financial solutions. Then met with an employer with offices in Jackson, Miami and Texas to discuss a 401(k) plan, how it works and how to secure a financial future. Next, he gave counsel to a client looking at a comprehensive financial review, goals and everything that affects meeting those goals.
“Sometimes people have fuzzy goals, and goals must be defined with time and amounts,” he said. “I can solve mathematically what that will be.”
Don Ray was the first financial planner Byrd knew, and Ray made an impact on him. Growing up in a Christian family was an important early influence, too.
“The technological impact that we’ve all experienced has also made an impact,” he said. “Everyone is more mobile now. I can get away because we have a great staff and partners. We’re fortunate in that respect. I really enjoy what I do.”
A little downtime
But Byrd isn’t just about work. He flies airplanes, goes scuba diving and plays guitar and sings in a praise and worship band at First Baptist Church of Jackson. He also writes contemporary Christian and country music. The family — his wife, Nancey, and sons Josh, 27, and Taylor, 22, — take adventurous vacations every year that sometimes include scuba diving in Cozumel, Cancun, St. Thomas and Key West.
“I try to balance my life,” he said. “I will always search for new horizons. Life doesn’t have to become stagnant.”
As for new goals, this 54-year-old financial planner wants to build a cabin on land he owns in Rankin County, work on his flight instrument rating and grow spiritually. He is close to his sons and feels he still has opportunity to be a dad. His involvement with them through the years led both sons to become Eagle Scouts in Troop 8, the largest troop in the state and oldest continuing troop in the nation. Byrd served as assistant scout master and unit committee chairman. He also coached his sons’ sports teams through their growing-up years.
“I’m very proud of what I did with them,” he said.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynn Lofton at firstname.lastname@example.org.