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Resolve's Gestalt University

Nov 25, 2019

As fees across the world of financial services have decreased over the last few years, the former quotas and commission-based model under which investment advisors operated sounds like a relic of a bygone era. Back then, advisors were not in the business of providing services such as estate or tax planning, let alone financial education.

Mike Hirthler, of Jacobi Capital, was a pioneer and an innovator. When he left the commissions-based job he got just out of college to launch a fee-based advisory firm, there was no shortage of skeptics telling him he would never make it under this new model. But it didn’t take long for the industry itself to follow suit.

After almost 35 years in the business, Mike recounts the difficulties of the early years and how the important decision of remaining independent ultimately contributed to the firm’s success. A student of behavioral finance and the psychology of markets, he remains passionate about financial literacy – both for the younger generations that he supports in local colleges (and mentors at the office), as well as the ‘boomer’ generation (many of whom have been his clients for decades) that are currently dealing with the challenges of retirement.

Following the teachings and lectures of Charlie Munger over many years introduced him to the concept of mental models and combining disciplines to improve problem-solving, which led to an interesting “encounter” with his “mentor-at-a-distance”. It was also through one of his lectures that Mike came across the work of German mathematician Carl Jacobi – who inspired his firm’s name – and one of his most important lessons: "Think through your major problems backwards; invert, always invert".