CSi is Celebrating 50 Years!
In 2021, CSi Advisory Services and Compensation Systems, Inc. are celebrating their milestone 50 Year Anniversary! Join us for a walk down memory lane as we reflect on the events of our past five decades in business. You’ll realize that although much has changed since our humble beginnings in 1971, our original mission to help our clients achieve their dreams of retirement has always remained.
In the days before 401(k) plans, MassMutual General Agent Thomas G. Garrison started Compensation Systems, Inc. in 1971 to support his advisors in the administration of pension and profit-sharing plans, and with the overarching mission of helping people retire successfully.
On April 1, 1977 Don Kuhn joined Tom and other original employee, Suzy Hinzy, at CSi. Soon after, Don signed on as an owner and agreed to pay at 12.5% interest—a rate that is almost unheard of nowadays.
Founder of Compensation Systems, Inc., Tom Garrison.
At this time, CSi had 32 retirement plans, sold health insurance, and charged $300 for a profit-sharing plan.
True to the era, the pioneering trio typed everything on a manual typewriter, performed mathematical calculations by hand, and copied documents using a mimeograph—messy purple ink included!
A young Don Kuhn joined the CSi team in 1977.
Don meeting with an early client at her kitchen table- simpler times!
Don smiling in his home office, one year before the creation of 401(k) plans revolutionized the industry.
The 80’s brought big hair and even bigger changes to the retirement plan industry after the creation and implementation of 401(k) plans. Don wrote six 401(k) plans in 1984, and it didn’t take long for the popularity of 401(k)’s to skyrocket. Just five years later in 1989, Don wrote 33 new plans.
His hard work further cemented CSi’s growing reputation as retirement plan specialists and proved our commitment to pursuing successful outcomes for employees participating in their employer’s retirement plan.
Don's impressively quick adaption to advancements in the industry didn't go unnoticed. He accepted the award for MassMutual Man of the Year in 1985.
10 years after the company’s inception, office traditions began forming. Many of which - like CSi Fun Day and the annual Christmas Party - are still celebrated to this day.
CSi became a family affair when Don’s daughter Kristi joined the team, spending her 80’s summers at the front desk doing clerical work throughout high school and college. Little did she know that four decades later she’d not only still be working at CSi… but she’d own it, too!
Proud Dad, Don, visiting Kristi during her college years at Illinois Wesleyan University. She spent her summers off of school working at CSi.
Don prepping for a speaking event during his first year as AAX Chairman.
With two decades now under its belt, CSi truly began hitting its stride in the 1990s. Now a bit older and wiser, Kristi once again made CSi a family affair when she rejoined the team in September of 1993 after a prior career in the Windy City.
From 1996 to 1999, Don served as the Chairman of the Advisors Association (AAX) at MassMutual. During this time, MassMutual created its first recordkeeping system called RMAP—another transformative moment for our industry and our practice.
Kristi in 1993- the year she officially joined the CSi team.
By 1999, it was clear CSi was undergoing rapid growth. Even with so much development, our focus on employee outcomes remained at the center of our organization. Holding one-on-one meetings with retirement plan participants is one of the major ways CSi keeps this focus. This personalized and advice-driven model still sets us apart to this day.
The firm rang in the new millennium with nine employees, 130 million dollars in assets and 273 retirement plans.
Conferences aren't always all work and no play! Don & Kristi enjoying time with family at the 1998 MassMutual Leaders Conference.
Kristi surrounded by colleagues at a 1995 conference. Many of the connections made at these gatherings are still going strong today.
Attending professional conferences have always been a priority at CSi. Today's conferences look a bit different than this 1995 MassMutual event.
In response to the blooming digital age, the 2000s brought major transformations in how CSi operated. One of the largest office projects of the early 2000s was the process of digitizing the firm’s files. One by one, the long-held staple of office storage- file cabinets- began disappearing in an effort to move towards implementing a more paperless practice. The decluttering was even more essential because in 2007, we made the big move to our current office space at Nine Parkwood Crossing.
Margie Stivers getting settled in her new workspace after the move in 2007.
Not even a new office could distract Don from his work!
This decade also saw the beginnings of the transition of management at CSi. With over 30 years of exceptional work and leadership, Don Kuhn made the decision to begin slowing down and move towards his retirement. With her father’s departure now on the horizon, Kristi became a minority owner of CSi—a beautiful testimony of Don’s trust and belief in his daughter’s capability to lead the organization he had built from the ground up.
True to his detailed and caring nature, Don had another plan to ensure his clients and the firm were in good hands after his departure. Enter Kelli Davis, CSi’s current Vice President of Retirement Plan Consulting.
CSi staff at their new front desk in 2007.
Kelli and Don.
Back in 2005 when Kelli first met Don, she was a young financial advisor fresh on the scene. In 2007, she began having conversations with Don and Kristi about joining CSi, and officially joined the team in January 2008. Don wasted no time in transitioning Kelli and sharing the wealth of knowledge he’d accumulated throughout the decades he’d spent in the industry. Every Friday, Don prepared a different retirement plan lesson for Kelli- ultimately covering every aspect of administration and investment selection in a year’s time. He also began introducing Kelli to his clients, giving her every opportunity to develop the same genuine relationships with them that he held so dearly.
In 2006, CSi took a ride on the wild side for Fun Day.
Kristi & Don surrounded by colleagues at a conference in 2002.
Staff traded the office for the amusement park for CSi Fun Day 2001.
Another noteworthy addition took place in 2006 when Roger Conrad joined the team. 15 years later, Roger leads the Compensation Systems, Inc. administration team as the Operations Manager. Kristi, Kelli and Roger’s steadfast commitments to CSi has bridged the gap between past and future generations of our organization.
As for the industry, in 2006 the Roth 401(k) was started, giving people everywhere another option for saving for their retirement. This development gave CSi yet another opportunity to stay accountable to our mission by meeting closely with participants and offering meaningful advice.
The progress within the retirement plan industry and CSi itself resulted in the firm managing 168 million dollars in assets by the end of the first decade of the 2000s. Although impressive, the growth CSi was set to experience in the next ten years was to a level that no one could have expected.
The events of the 2010s solidified how CSi operates as we know it today.
In 2015, Kristi became 100% owner of the company. A truly major milestone for the woman who once spent her summers working at the front desk of the organization that is now her own.
In 2017, CSi underwent a full reorganization. Up until that year, all business operations were conducted under the name of Compensation Systems, Inc. However, as we continued to tailor our services to our client’s constantly evolving needs, we recognized that the advisory and investment arm of our practice had grown and diversified to the point that the next step for further development was to have it classified as a separate entity. Thus, CSi Advisory Services was born. The original name of Compensation Systems, Inc. is still used for the retirement plan administrative division of our practice, while all else is considered to be held under the CSi Advisory Services umbrella.
With these divisions now fittingly labeled, CSi formalized the Administrative, Consulting and Wealth Management branches under which we practice today. Both CSi Advisory Services and Compensation Systems, Inc. are bonded through our shared mission of helping people achieve their dreams of retirement by offering a meaningful, advice-driven approach that is tailored to each participants’ situation.
In 2018, this was the group that represented the then newly established division- CSi Advisory Services.
2021 marks six years since our fearless leader Kristi Baker became 100% owner of CSi.
David, Roger & Mitchell make up the trio that manage TPA services offered through Compensation Systems, Inc.
Erinn & Kelli attending the 2018 RPAG National Conference in sunny California. One of the many industry conferences CSi participates in every year.
Looking back on our history, it is clear that the expansion of options in the retirement plan industry and the growth of CSi are intertwined. During this decade, auto-enrollment and auto-escalation began being utilized.
Thanks to the years of savvy and steadfast efforts that preceded the 2010s, our small firm began receiving respected recognitions within our industry on a widespread level. CSi continues to cultivate this reputation by making national speaking engagements and participating in a variety of other professional events and activities every year. Similarly, on a more local scale, we have implemented an assortment of programs that allow us to connect with our nearby clients and venture deeper into our community.
Engaging with our clients during one of our Lunch & Learn sessions in 2019.
The team connecting with our local community by volunteering with Indianapolis no-profit School on Wheels in 2018.
Enjoying a moment around the table at CSi Fun Day- a rare moment amid the craziness of 2020.
The 2020 team at our COVID-friendly CSi Fun Day.
2020 was a year no one could have anticipated. The whole world experienced unprecedented changes/situations, and CSi’s experience was no different. The COVID-19 pandemic turned our world upside down, and drove us to shift the way our organization and industry typically operated. Normally, our advisors are constantly on-the-go, traveling from one in-person meeting to the next or attending industry conferences across the country. Our office, once humming with cherished clients sharing their retirement goals and preparing for the future suddenly felt quiet and empty.
Although we missed the hustle and bustle that enveloped our typical work day, we quickly assimilated to a “new normal” of virtual meetings in order to keep us all safe and healthy. Like many organizations, we had to rely on technology more than ever before. Thanks to the willingness and experimentation of our staff, we quickly became experts in virtual meetings- refusing to allow the virus to separate us from the clients and industry colleagues that we value so much. Kristi and Kelli stepped up to the plate and presented as featured speakers and panelists at three industry conferences that were forced to go virtual.
Even though the challenges COVID-19 placed on our staff, clients, community, and world cannot be understated, CSi also experienced some positive moments in the midst of such a challenging time. The year began with Compensation Systems, Inc. and CSi Advisory Services becoming a certified Women’s Business Enterprise (WBE), affirming that we are women-owned, operated and controlled.
We also had exciting additions to our team in 2020. We welcomed two interns, Taylor from Butler University and Whitaker from DePauw University. In the few months they were with us, both Taylor and Whitaker did exceptional work and were invaluable assets to our team. We’re looking forward to continuing our internship program and expanding the opportunities available to students looking to learn more about our industry.
Challenging summer intern Whit to a burger eating contest.. which he won!
Joe working with our winter/summer intern Taylor.
We also welcomed three new full-time team members: Retirement Plan Education Consultant Bri Ikerd, Client Relations Professional Josh Garmon, and Marketing & Client Relations Professional Maeve Wangler. Our organization is grateful to have had the ability to expand our team to 12 members this year, and are encouraged by the benefits and compelling ideas that have resulted from the collaboration between our new hires and veteran team.
2020 taught us many things. The future is always uncertain, and although we don’t know what the next 50 years will bring, one thing is for sure- CSi's journey is just getting started.
LPL Financial is not affiliated with CSi Advisory Services or Compensation Systems, Inc.