. . . . is one of the most
powerful and comprehensive law and financial planning firms
in the world! The Law Offices of and its financial
services affiliates offer successful people a strategic, multidisciplinary
approach to tax, investment, corporate, estate, and business
is a Business and
Tax Attorney, a Master Registered Financial Planner, a Registered
Financial Consultant, and a Certified Investment Specialist.
He is the Author of 30 books on business organization, management,
taxation, and personal finance. Twice a Recipient of the Illinois
State Bar Association's Lincoln Award, Marc is an Adjunct
Professor of Law at Northwestern University and an Adjunct
Professor of Business at the University of Illinois - Chicago.
Only a very few get to be included in the Martindale-Hubbell
Bar Register of Preeminent Lawyers. We invite you to review
the exceptional resources available to you.
In an exclusive Q&A interview, I got a chance to sit
down with the man that makes everyone he meets wealthy and
Where were you born and raised?
"Chicago. I have a brother and a sister. My father was
in the real estate business and my mother was a teacher. Both
are still around and both are retired."
What was it like growing up in Chicago and what part?
"From the age of nine, I lived in Lincolnwood, which
is a northern suburb of Chicago. When I got married, we moved
to Chicago, then Wilmette, and then back to Lincolnwood and
eventually bought land there and built a house, which we've
lived in for 21 years. I live a mile away from my parents
now and I haven't stayed far. So, Chicago is home."
You've written over 30 books and have been in the
business of law and finance for just as long. How do you handle
the inherent stress of success?
"I believe there is stress and I believe that the energy
needs to be channeled constructively, but I think a lot of
people don't know how to cope with stress. I think I'm
fairly good with coping with stress. I think some of it has
to do with the way you are constructed, your psyche and emotional
makeup, how you were raised, what is your history. Some has
to do with getting through life and putting things in perspective
by ranking, prioritizing and seeing what's really important
and recognizing that most things aren't."
Why and how did you choose your current vocation? What
were some of the beginning steps?
"Initially, it was absolutely opportunistic and I found
that I had a passion for it. The opportunism arose from the
fact that when I was going to Northwestern Law School and
fully expecting to be a Litigator, I worked my way through
school through selling insurance that protect contact lens
owners against loss and damage. At that time, the laws were
permitting professionals for the first time to incorporate
their practices – up until then, they couldn't.
The doctors with whom I had established some rapport knew
I was in law school, and asked me what did I know about incorporating
their practice. I learned about it and became fairly knowledgeable
early on--as that phenomenon was taking hold. I was asked
if I would write an article for one of the trade publications
for doctors, which I did and I was asked to do another one,
and so on. Both of those publications happened to appear in
the same month. As far as the Optometric and Opthomological
Community was concerned, I was the world expert on professional
corporations. From that, slowly evolved a practiced that was
dedicated to tax and financial issue associated with professionals.
I went back to school and got some tax education; then over
time, became a Financial Planner and assembled not only the
credentials, but the critical mass of knowledge to be a leader
in this field."
What makes you unique to your industry and your clients?
"We have the only law firm in the country to have a
comprehensive financial services capability. being the broker/dealer
continues to grow and thrive operating nationally and internationally.
We also have an Investment Advisory Firm and a Risk Management/Insurance
operation. Additionally, we have a small merchant-banking
firm, where we really shine whenever a client needs to make
a decision involving both legal and financial issues. That
would be investment planning, tax planning, strategic planning,
estate planning, corporate planning, serving as general counsel
for hundreds of closely-held business that our clients own
all over the world. And, a bi-product, for which our clients
are a beneficiary, and we take a multi-disciplinary approach
to the wealth management issues. In order to maintain these
issues, we have the very best people I can find; which includes
lawyers, but investment advisors, financial planners, Accountants,
MBAs, and CFAs. Then, we can put those people on task wherever
they are needed so we have an enormous depth of bench in terms
of legal and financial professionals."
You are more than a one-stop shop for clients seeking
tax law and financial advice, correct?
"It isn't only the convenience and efficiency
of a one stop shop. To me, the more important value is the
integrity of the process. Often, when clients have needs like
estate planning which is an obvious one – that has an
insurance dimension, that has an investment dimension, it
has a legal dimension, it has a business dimension, it has
a psychological and emotional dimension. So, when lawyers
get involved in those engagements, they have to send clients
here and there to implement different pieces of it and too
often, it dies. Different advisors, well intentioned though
they may be, will have a different spin on the facts and pull
the client off into a different direction. Therefore, they
may not be privy to all of the same information. Here, we
have one unified vision and we have one quarterback implementing
all of it to ensure that it all gets done pursuant to that
vision. Thus, the client ends up getting the benefit of his/her
By definition, what is a financial planner or advisor?
"Financial Planners and financial advisors are two different
things. A Financial Planner is one kind of financial advisor.
Financial planning is a disciplined process of assembling
information about a client and working collaboratively with
the client to find objectives and achieve those objectives.
It usually includes attention to questions like retirement
planning, estate planning, tax planning, and tuition planning
for the client's children. It may include issues associated
with the clients business and other issues which are unique
to the client."
How do you approach financial planning?
"That approach is adjusted here. The way in which we
approach financial planning engagements is modular. Clients
usually come here because they have a specific, self-identified
need. Whether that need is born of an opportunity or a problem.
Too often, a Financial Planner will have a generic or standardized
response to a financial planning prospect showing up in their
office. Namely, here's a questionnaire, which will result
as inputting data; the data will generate something in terms
of a deliverable along all of the various categories that
I described earlier. Our approach is very one-on-one and customized.
Consequently, we will address the issue that the client brings
to us first. In so doing, given that I have been doing this
for better than thirty years now, it's not unusual for
me to pick up signals or identify some opportunities that
the client may not have on his/her radar. I'll say,
‘Let's talk about what brings you here because
I know that is your priority. But, let me suggest some other
priorities that maybe you ought to have too. Ways in which
we can add value either in terms of protecting your wealth,
growing your wealth, and/or insulating you from liabilities.'
I'm doing this not as a financial planner alone, but
also as an attorney and that obviously gives me broader latitude
to explore issues beyond those customarily addressed by a
Ok, you've explained what a Financial Planner is,
so what then is a financial advisor?
"A Financial Advisor to me is someone who acts as a
fiduciary that is advocating the clients interests above his
own interests. Disclosing conflicts of interest, making sure
that the client's interests are always paramount and
representing the client in any decision that has financial
implications. By that definition, we may be talking about
an attorney, an accountant, a financial planner, an insurance
broker or agent, in some cases a banker, an actuary, we may
be talking about an investment advisor – all kind of
people fall into that bailiwick. When I wrote my most recent
book, Advising Entrepreneurs: Dynamic Strategies for Financial
Growth that book was originally intended for financial advisors
of all stripes."
Aside from your firm, what other professional ventures
are you involved in?
"I teach at Northwestern University School of Law, and
in the MBA Program at the University of Illinois-Chicago.
Additionally, I teach Entrepreneurship and Finance at both
institutions, while writing a monthly column in Crain's
Do you have more than one office?
"I'm exploring the possibility of creating a satellite
office in another locale. There was a time when I had four
offices – one in London, Sydney, Zurich and Singapore.
Over the years, I found that I didn't need them with
the advent of the Internet, FedEx and faxes. However, we have
clients all over the world; with a minority of clients are
in the Chicago metropolitan area – about 40%.. We manage
their money and do their legal work and it's fun, exciting,
dynamic and I wouldn't do it any other way. I have three
daughters – all grown but not emancipated truly (laugh).
We have a very close family."
What do you do to relax and clear your mind?
"I have a lot of vocations and interests. For example,
my wife and I enjoy the theater. We subscribe to a couple
of theater series here. We also subscribe to a theater series
in New York, and about once every six weeks, we spend a long
weekend there with friends. We're also interested in
art. We travel a lot – Europe once or twice a year.
We have a little island that I won't tell you about
because if it gets out, I won't like it as much as I