Neil C. Hokanson CFP®, MBA
Former Director in Wealth Management, Principal

What do you enjoy most about wealth management?

It’s the opportunity to harmonize a client’s deepest life passions with their financial resources.

What’s the biggest challenge?

We are all pulled in many directions. Prioritizing one’s goals in the right order can be absolutely critical.

What do you love most about being part of Aspiriant?

I love being associated with so many outstanding professionals who are always striving to serve our clients better.

What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?

I’m especially proud of being a pioneer in our profession before there were books, consultants or college courses on wealth management. We stayed focused on the welfare of our clients and just “figured it out”.

What quality of yours makes you best suited to do what you do?

I’m really a “fiduciary” at heart – I deeply care about people and I enjoy the problem-solving challenges that brought that client to us in the first place.

How should people think about their wealth?

It’s just a tool. It’s like electricity – properly channeled, it can light things up. If misdirected, it can throw a breaker or even burn something!

What do you love to do outside of work?

I like to garden (succulents), to cook and spend time with my family, but my favorite recreation is beach volleyball.

What would you be doing if you weren’t working for Aspiriant?

I would be working on solutions for some major public policy issue, or volunteering in the community.

Career highlights

  • Teaching helicopter mechanics in pre-revolutionary Iran
  • Co-founding the first financial planning organization in the state of New Mexico
  • Founding and developing an industry-leading wealth management firm “from scratch”
  • Combining with Aspiriant and thereby creating the opportunity to provide a growth path for my colleagues and to continue to serve our clients at the highest level in perpetuity

Education and accreditations

  • B.A. in Spanish from University of California, Irvine
  • MBA in International Business
  • CFP®

What was the most influential book you’ve read and why?

A book called “Commentaries on Living” by Krishnamurti gave me a framework for understanding life’s challenges and how to think through them.

What personal accomplishments are you most proud of?

  • Working my way around the world doing odd jobs in my early 20’s
  • Obtaining a black belt in karate
  • Trying hard to be a positive encouragement for my family, friends and community over the years

Neil Hokanson is a Director of Wealth Management, a Principal and serves as Chairman of the Board of Directors at Aspiriant. Neil came to Aspiriant via the combination with Hokanson Associates in 2015, where Neil was the President and Co-Founder. Hokanson Associates was a highly-regarded wealth management firm based in San Diego, California. Established in 1987, Hokanson Associates was a pioneer in the nascent profession of independent wealth management firms that eschewed the traditional Wall Street approach in favor of an emphasis on independence, integrity and client welfare. Neil's vision – to create an organization free of institutional conflicts and which serves our clients as we ourselves would want to be served – is what guided his firm’s success and which harmonizes so well with Aspiriant’s own values.

Neil began his professional career in 1979 in community banking, followed by several years with the investment banking firm Dean Witter (today Morgan Stanley). Neil obtained his CFP® certification in 1984 and began his long career as an independent financial planner and wealth advisor in 1985. Neil also holds a Masters in Business Administration with an emphasis on international business, and he is a graduate of the University of California at Irvine. As a Principal of Aspiriant, Neil brings over 35 years of experience in investment management and financial planning, and the judgment that comes with the journey of many market cycles and of helping hundreds of clients achieve their financial objectives. Widely-traveled, Neil is fluent in Spanish and an avid follower of foreign affairs.

Outside of Aspiriant, Neil served as past Chairman of the Board of the Rancho Santa Fe Foundation, a leader in impactful philanthropy in San Diego and beyond. Neil has been a Rotarian since 1986 with a special interest in Rotary's polio eradication campaign and projects in developing nations. Neil is a member and former Chair of the President's Council of the San Elijo Lagoon Conservancy. Neil has served on the boards of the San Diego Botanic Garden (Executive Committee and Development Chair), The Community Resource Center (President-elect), U.S. Community Savings Bank, and he is a past president of the Olivenhain Town Council. Professionally, Neil was named “One of the Top Wealth Advisors in the United States” by Worth Magazine on several occasions. In 1985 he co-founded one of the early chapters of what is now called the Financial Planning Association (FPA), and Neil has served twice on Charles Schwab’s Institutional Advisory Board.

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