We had the good fortune of connecting with Gregg Ficery and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Gregg, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Acting on an educated assessment of risk is essential to achieving financial independence, which equates to a greater degree of freedom in life. Corporate careers do not enable the vast majority of people to earn enough in salary to achieve financial independence. I recognized early in my career that a disciplined approach to investing with measured risk is necessary to achieve exceptional results.
Research shows that only 52% of American families are invested in stocks. Of those, the median holding is only $40,000. This level of wealth is neither sufficient to attain financial independence nor comfortable retirement. It is concerning that so few are achieving the American Dream when the opportunity is available. The stock market is accessible to everyone, and online trading is now free. Financial education is necessary to overcome the fear of investing. I decided to pursue a finance degree at Georgetown University to learn how to make wise financial decisions within a values-based approach in my career and personal life.
While some friends chose to work long hours on Wall Street, I chose financial roles in companies that did not require me to sacrifice my work-life balance for the sake of higher salaries. Nonetheless, I honed my business skills and began investing in high-quality companies in the mid-90s during the technology boom. New financial technologies facilitated my equity research and the development of an investment strategy. Information is king. I soon began earning more in the market than in my job, which has continued, on average, over the years. Starting to invest early and consistently is the key to taking advantage of compounding returns.
All ten companies for which I worked, including Fortune 500 companies and dot-coms, had fatal flaws in their business models that limited their success. Resistance to change, which implies a willingness to accept risk, was typically a factor. New technologies required adoption to remain competitive, but suggesting process improvements was not always warmly welcomed. Some of these companies succumbed to fraud rather than trusting a disciplined approach, including innovation and integrity. Most of them no longer exist. Some of my former coworkers still work at these same companies 25 years later while performing similar roles.
Eventually, ten years ago, the confluence of preparation and opportunity led me to start my business valuation consulting firm, Integgra Valuation & Advisory Services. Offering national firm experience and quality work combined with small firm client service and fees is a formula that has been successful across many sectors, and I recognized the opportunity to apply it in this niche. At some point, the risk of starting a business becomes less painful than continuing in a dead-end situation. The freedom provided by running my business and achieving better than market investment returns was achieved by recognizing and seizing opportunities and constantly challenging norms while understanding and accepting reasonable risk.
What should our readers know about your business?
Success in business rarely occurs in a straight line. Many businesses are successful for only short periods of time due to changes in competition, technology, regulations, etc. It is necessary to recognize such changes early enough to capitalize on them. Stints in the secondary mortgage market and telecom sectors exposed me to the volatility of and cyclical nature of business.
The business valuation consulting sector then received a boost after regulatory changes in the early 2000s required private companies to have their stock options priced independently. This created demand for my skills in a growing sector. Firms in this sector soon found it difficult to be successful, and I recognized an opportunity to start a firm with low overhead and high-quality service to be successful in this market.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My favorite spot to entertain guests in Atlanta is the Georgia Aquarium. The variety of species is among the world’s best. For refreshments, I enjoy sharing the craft brewery experience at Orpheus Brewing. The flavors are special and the environment is welcoming.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I am grateful to those who recognized my potential to apply my skills to the practice of business valuation and provide me an opportunity to enter the profession before starting my firm.