Getting Personal: Paul Ruedi

Getting Personal: Paul Ruedi

Each week, we offer a Q&A with a local personality. Today, 58-year-old Champaign resident Paul Ruedi chats with staff writer Paul Wood. His family business is Ruedi Wealth Management, and he also has a radio show on WDWS. Ruedi once tended bar for Bill Murray.

How did you end up in Champaign-Urbana?

My dad got a job as the manager of Baskin Clothing in Lincoln Square and moved our family to Urbana in 1967. It was a great place to grow up, and the neighborhood was full of wonderful families. I am pretty sure my four brothers and I cornered the market on mowing, shoveling snow and leaf raking.

What is your first memory of moving to Urbana?

That one is easy. The first year we moved to Urbana, my parents enrolled the five Ruedi boys in the Urbana Park District program for the summer. My dad told us it was a country club ... we didn't figure out that wasn't the case until we were older. Anyway, we were lucky enough to have the one and only Tony Clements as one of our counselors. Can you imagine the luck of that draw as a 7-year-old? It's was almost like an "I have a dream" moment. Tony was that special. My brothers and I all talk about him fondly today.

Where did you go to school?

Yankee Ridge Elementary School and Urbana Middle School. After graduating from Urbana High School, I went to Parkland for two years and went on to earn my finance degree from Eastern Illinois. I am truly a product of central Illinois public education.

Tell us about your family.

I met my wife, Cindy, in grade school. Her father, Dr. William Cooper, was my Little League coach. In 1977, I noticed her even more, and frankly, it was love at first sight — other than I knew her when I was 7 and she was 6. I literally looked at her one day and thought to myself, she is the one. It turns out, I was right. We have been married for 34 years.

Children?

We had four children (Kati, Paul, David and Daniel) over the span of five and half years, which kept us very busy. My three sons and my son-in-law (Ryan) all work with me at Ruedi Wealth Management. I would say they work for me, but some days I think I work for them. My daughter loves children and is a natural educator. After doing her undergrad at Miami, Ohio, she got her master's in education from DePaul University. She taught third grade at St. Matthew in Champaign for five years. Right now, Kati is a stay-at-home mom for our first grandchild, Cooper, though she stays involved with St. Matthew by frequently substituting. She also tutors a number of children. She keeps everything glued together at work and at home.

Is it difficult to run a family-only business?

We have been lucky. We understand each other. We all have different talents and play different roles. Everyone pulls their weight and then some. Son Paul is in charge of our marketing and educational content creation, our in-house intellectual that keeps us true to our mission. Son David is a grinder and oversees day-to-day operations of our company — he lets nothing slip through the cracks and ensures we deliver the best client experience possible. Son-in-law Ryan serves as our chief compliance officer and is very detailed and mission-oriented. Daniel is the most like me. He has my sense of humor, along with a very serious planning side. He relates to people on a personal level that allows him go above and beyond as a financial planner. I am the benevolent dictator, but I respect other opinions.

You say you don't like to tell people what you do. You prefer to ask people why you do what you do. Why is that?

Anyone can tell you what they do. It is rarely inspirational. Facts don't inspire people, and people need to be inspired to succeed, not only in investing, but in life. So, I prefer to start with our "why," Everything we do, everything we believe, is driven by the idea that we can make people's lives better, happier and more fulfilled. That is why I get up in the morning and do what I do every day.

You have been hosting Paul Ruedi's 'On-The-Money' radio show since 1990. What do you like most about hosting the show?

Wow, now I feel old. It is strange to think about all that has happened during the past 28 years or so. To think the Dow Jones Industrial Average was around 3,000 at the time I started the show and now above 24,000 is just amazing. It's amazing to recall all that has happened during that time. Recessions, market crashes, huge bull markets, high interest rates, epic low interest rates.

Has the show changed?

The show has evolved over the years. My sons and son-in-law are now regular guests, and I get to grill them about whatever financial planning and investment topics people want to hear about. And of course, Dr. Fred Giertz remains our resident economist and raises the IQ of the show. The show has really modernized the past few years in particular. More and more people are listening to podcast recordings of the show made available on our company website, The News-Gazette's site and iTunes. We started doing Facebook live video broadcasts of the shows last month and upload the video recordings of each show to YouTube as well.

What is the happiest memory of your life?

Wow, how does one answer that? I could talk about my wedding day, the birth of my children. And don't get me going about Cooper, our first grandchild. All would qualify as the best memory.

I hear you read a few hours a day. What do you like to read and what are you reading now?

I usually read two hours in the morning and then one to two hours in the evening. I am obsessed with keeping up with any new research that can help our clients or our company. As for books, I am currently reading three books. Two are from the same author, Nassim Taleb: "Skin in The Game" and "Antifragile: Things That Gain from Disorder." The other book is "Around the Year" by Nick Murray.

What's something only a few people know about you?

A friend of mine is a friend of Bill Murray — and he and I have been to Bill's annual Christmas Party several times. One time, Bill forgot to hire bartenders. I jumped right in and told Bill I would tend bar for a few hours for him. The way I saw it, I would meet most everyone at the party by doing so. I served David Letterman, Chris Rock and a bunch of other big stars.

What was your first job and how much did you make an hour?

Outside of mowing lawns, shoveling snow, raking leaves and delivering papers, my first payroll job was working for Ray Timpone at the Jolly Roger. I was 13 at the time. I think we got paid $1.15 per-hour, plus tips. I doubt they let 13-year olds work until 1 or 2 a.m. these days, like we did during football weekends.

What's your most treasured possession?

Time. I am convinced as we age, time and money begin to trade place as to their importance.

How do you handle stressful situations?

I have had my share of immensely stressful business events. I have learned to just hit them straight on, and focus on solutions. During one of my times of greatest stress, one of my wisest clients told me that, "this too shall pass." Ever since he called me and told me those words, I don't tend to get stressed.

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