Two Minutes with Tom
Thomas Connelly, CFA, CFP®
President & Chief Investment Officer
At most financial advisories, you typically don’t have direct access to the chief investment officer, who formulates the investment policy and supervises portfolio management. At Versant, I frequently gather with clients to help them interpret and understand the investment philosophy.
My background is not only financial – I have interests other than helping people grow their wealth. This curiosity informs and inspires me to create a context to the numbers, which can lead to deeper and more strategic conversations with our clients.
I am originally from Minnesota (go Vikings!), where I graduated from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul with a degree in geology. I moved to Arizona in 1979 and received an MBA with a concentration in finance from Arizona State University.
I began my financial career 35 years ago and realized early on that I enjoy helping people with investment planning, estate planning, and manager research and investment valuation. Before forming Versant in 2004, I was Co-Founder, President, and Chief Investment Officer of Keats, Connelly & Associates, and President of Connelly & Associates for 15 years. There I led global market research and supervised client portfolios. Over my career, I have served the wealth management needs of high-net-worth individuals, families, corporate executives, foundations, endowments, pensions, profit-sharing plans, and other tax-exempt and institutional clients.
Being recognized multiple times by Worth Magazine as one of the “top” financial advisors in the U.S. has been an honor, as well as being featured annual Az Business Leaders in 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. As an ASU grad, being named a “Sun Devil 100” was exciting, as it noted the achievements of the university’s alumni who own or lead “successful, innovative businesses across the globe.”
I am a speaker on technical subjects to local, national, and international professional societies, including ALI-ABA, the AICPA, the FPA, and the Asia Pacific Financial Planning Conference, and have authored and been quoted in numerous articles for industry journals and publications.
Being active in my community is important to me. I have served in leadership roles on numerous boards and committees of civic and professional organizations. I am thrilled to be the inaugural member (and current member) of the Financial Planning Degree Board at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. I am also a volunteer board member of ASU’s student-run SIMM Investment Management Fund.
I was appointed to the Board of Trustees of the Arizona State Retirement System (ASRS) by both Democratic and Republican governors, serving from December 2006 to 2016, one of the board’s longest appointments. Chairing the Arizona State Retirement System’s Investment Committee from March 2009 to 2016 has been a career highlight. I also served on the Financial Advisor Advisory Board for TIAA- CREF and am a current member of the Institute for Preparing Heirs.
The board of the Phoenix Society of Financial Analysts and twice the President of the Phoenix Chapter of the Institute of Certified Financial Planners are other organizations I am involved in. I was on the Editorial Advisory Board and a Contributing Editor for the Journal of Financial Planning, an Executive Board Member for National Advisors Holdings, and a Financial Advisory Board Member to Rydex Funds.
My credentials include CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, Chartered Financial Analyst, a member of the Financial Planning Association, and a 25-year charter member of the CFA Institute.
There have been four periods classified as recessions by the National Bureau of Economic Research during my career, in addition to the largest daily loss in stock market history on October 19, 1987, plus one pandemic in 2020. My proudest professional accomplishment has been the growth and preservation of my clients’ financial nest eggs and legacies over lifetimes that include one or more of these events.