“What’s your last name?”
As a kid, my dad would drill my siblings and me with this rhetorical question.
“We’re not going to take the easy way. We’re Coyles. We do things the right way,” he would say.
At first, my definition of the “right way” focused on personal accountability and achievement.
With experience and maturity this definition has evolved to become more broad and outward looking.
I didn’t know what “we’re leaders” really meant, but I knew my dad was one because everyone treated him with tremendous respect.
I didn’t know what being a Financial Consultant entailed, but I did notice that he consistently offered help to people and that he always seemed to know who to call to help them find direction.
I later followed my dad’s footsteps into the financial industry. By my early 30s, I was working my way up the ladder at a bank, managing trust portfolios for 300 clients. I liked the industry, but I didn’t love the bank’s customer care culture. I wanted an environment where I could be much more personal with my clients.
Near the same time, my father, in his 50s, called me and said, “Kevin, I’m going to be mentoring a new guy named Gary to work with me, and I’d like it if you joined us; I could mentor you both. What do you say, Son, want to come work with your dad?”
The timing was right. I was old enough to want Dad’s advice. I knew I could learn many things from him. So I quit my job and went to work for my father.
Dad didn’t lead me as much as he continually pushed me to grow. He had a deep sense of empathy and always wanted to help people. So he pushed me to have a broader definition of “family,” one that included clients and community. He taught me his higher standards for care.
He also pushed me to seek out the “smartest people in the room” to serve my clients — and to never shy away from paying for more education.
But there was a surprise that came from working with my dad.
I discovered I had entrepreneurial skills. I also had my own instincts of what constituted excellence in care and service. And with my father, and now my partner Gary, pushing me to be my best, I developed my entrepreneurial talents and helped grow Coyle Financial beyond what any of us could have accomplished individually.
When Dad retired in 1999, Coyle Financial was a new business held firmly in the hands of Gary Klaben and myself.
When Dad died in 2015, it was a huge loss. He’d left a footprint on many people’s hearts. Later, my oldest sister, Colleen, published a story of his life and titled it, “What’s Your Last Name?”
I’ve always known my last name is Coyle. But today, I understand that my last name stands for being a leader who will do whatever it takes to serve my family, my clients, and others with the highest degree of care.
I’ve always been the type of person that’s 100% committed to my goals. West Point. First in my Ranger School class. Assigned not one, but three platoons after the military brass discovered I could accomplish anything they asked. The one person out of 100 chosen for flight school which was a path to my dream of flying the space shuttle. The same day I got accepted, however, I met a wonderful woman, and 10 days later, I gave up flying so that I could marry her – one of the best decisions of my life, 38 years and counting. And more recently, deciding to make YouTube videos and making 2,100 videos in three years. So, when people say, “Gary is not normal,” I understand they’re usually referring to my intensity. But my intensity is not what defines me.
My purpose defines me and I first experienced my purpose at nine years old.
I grew up outside of Syracuse, NY, in a blue-collar Italian community. My father, one of the few white-collar men, worked across town as an engineer. My mother controlled her small army of children, 10, housed in a three bedroom home, with a Spartan-like strictness. You did what you were told, worked continually, became a jack of all trades, ate and slept sparingly, didn’t complain, and if your arm was chopped off you found a way to keep working. It was a very extreme upbringing but I loved the push to be my best.
Anyhow, at nine years old, I’m sitting at the kitchen table with my family when Mom declares, “Kids, your father got paid today but all the money is spent. Fortunately, he has a dime in his pocket so if something happens to him out in the world, he can call and we can go get him. But there is no money until he gets paid again in two weeks, so we’ll have to make due.”
I hear this, and I feel scared and worried.
It made me determined to get a paper route. My older brother had one and he made $10 a week, so I figured if I could do the same, I could help solve our family’s money problems. It took two years of begging, but Mom let me get one at 11.
The first thing I did was knock on each one of my 105 new customers’ doors to ask, “Hi. Where would you like your paper delivered?” And, “I’ll be collecting payment on the weekend, so what time do you NOT want me to bother you?”
My instinct was to find out what my customers wanted and serve them exactly that way. My brother, on the other hand, delivered the papers and collected payments according to his convenience.
We had the same number of customers, 105. But after just two weeks, I was making $22 a week, twice as much as my brother, because of added tips. I gave all my earnings to my parents and felt so happy and fulfilled by helping them.
By 29, I had found Financial Planning as a career. It appealed to the nine-year-old in me as a way to help others with money. There was, however, an aspect of the career I did NOT like. Pushing financial products the way my brother delivered newspapers – without regard to what each customer really needed. I couldn’t do it. I was still the same 11-year-old who desired to knock on each of my customer’s doors to find out how to truly serve them.
And then I met Ed Coyle. I might have quit the industry had I not.
Ed was a pioneer in Financial Planning and a legend for being customer-centric. He hated “product selling” and insisted upon “genuine service,” no matter what the cost or effort. So I joined his company and became a protege. Similar to my mother’s Spartan household and Westpoint’s way of turning boys into men, Ed’s unique way of meeting customers’ real wants and needs wasn’t easy, but it was a perfect match for how I tick. I’d found my true purpose and way to serve.
Today, I’m privileged to be partners with Ed’s son Kevin. Ed retired in 1999.
I wake up every day literally excited to help one person at a time maximize their money, or solve a money problem – and that’s what I’ve been happily doing 30 years since I was 29. Or since I was nine years old if you count my defining moment as a child.
We have proudly worked with multiple generations of families over the past four decades, collaboratively supporting confident decision making, and the pursuit of new and lasting success and well-being and the development of new leadership.
Coyle was started in 1972 by Edward Coyle, the father of partner Kevin Coyle. In the first decade, Ed focused on serving clients’ needs in the life insurance and money management businesses while beginning to offer fee-based financial plans. Beginning in 1981, Ed began charging fees for the management of no load mutual funds through the Charles Schwab No Load Mutual Fund Desk and the utilization of a timing program. This program was modified and developed during the 1980s. Ed hired Edward Kelly as his back office manager in 1985.
In September 2001, Gary, Kevin, and Edward bought Coyle Asset Management and Coyle Securities from Edward Coyle. More staff was added to round out client services, operations, planning, and support activities. The Coyle Process™ was created, thereby naming the process of delivering Coyle’s comprehensive holistic services to the firm’s clients. Coyle’s offices were relocated to our current location in Glenview, Illinois from Northfield, Illinois in 2006 to offer clients and staff a more appropriate environment, more office space, and room to expand.