R.J. Devick | Crain's Twin Cities

In this ongoing series, we ask executives, entrepreneurs and business leaders about mistakes that have shaped their business philosophy.

R.J. Devick


St. Louis Park-based Bond & Devick Wealth Partners is a boutique financial advisory with $287 million under management. The firm specializes in socially responsible investing (SRI). 

The Mistake:

I left a good idea on the shelf.

I joined up with Penny Bond in 1993, and it wasn’t long before she and I started talking about socially responsible investing (SRI), an investment strategy that lets clients align their values with their portfolios. Many of our investors exclude energy stocks, tobacco and gun stocks, for example.

Penny and I talked about SRI several times, but back in the 90s, we were so stretched for time. The firm was exceptionally busy. Plus, the whole concept of SRI was in its infancy. To do it right, you need to put up some significant capital to get all of the specialized software that you need. So we had a million reasons to just hang on to the idea. And we said, "Well, we’ll get to it when we get to it."

That was a mistake, though, because SRI is a huge part of our business today. I can't help but wonder: what would things be like if we had started offering socially responsible investing way back in the 90s, when we first talked about it? If we had been pursuing it since the first rumblings, I think we’d be true vanguards, and certainly the earliest adopters in the Twin Cities by far.

There are a lot of good ideas out there, but its the follow through that's really the test.

The Lesson

Life gets busy, and there are always reasons not to try something. But if you have a good idea, it’s worth pushing that extra measure. It may be nothing--or it may be the next big thing for your business.

There are a lot of good ideas out there, but its the follow through that's really the test. Thank goodness we started having regular long-term strategy sessions about 15 years ago. If we hadn't started doing that, I think its a possibility that we might still just be talking about SRI.


Follow Bond & Devick on Twitter at @BondandDevick

Photo provided by Bond & Devick

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