Active investment management’s weekly magazine for fee-based advisors

Serving those who have served

by Jan 16, 2014Advisor Interviews

Serving those who have served

by Jan 16, 2014Advisor Interviews

Don Kusak • Houston, TX
Patriot Strategic Investments • ProEquities

Don Kusak is a man with an important mission. After many years of success as a financial planner and wealth advisor, Kusak has turned his financial talents to also helping active and retired military personnel and their families.

He has joined forces with a retired senior noncommissioned Air Force officer, who is the owner of a Service-Disabled Veteran-Owned Small Business (SDVOSB), to provide a wide range of financial products and services under the umbrella of Patriot Strategic Investments, where Kusak is president.

Patriot works closely with the veterans support organization VetUSA, which has a mission to continually educate and update veterans and their families (and especially veteran business owners) on government programs and benefits, and counsel on transitioning into the private sector. It’s designed to be a one-stop resource for business and personal success covering legal, accounting, insurance, and comprehensive financial-planning and investment issues.

Veterans often leave the military with an unclear and fragmented picture of their financial opportunities, Kusak says, and deserve access to the most sophisticated financial planning and investment advice. After years of service to their country, “many have both fairly steady income streams and the desire to build a successful second career or start a new business, and ideally they will put our professional advice to good use.”

Kusak brings over 20 years of financial experience to the Patriot organization, and also maintains his prior financial and investment management practice through an affiliation with the broker-dealer ProEquities, Inc. A fairly new relationship, Kusak is very positive on the benefits ProEquities brings, saying, “My team and I have found incredible support and flexibility, more products, better tools, and an extremely professional environment. We have direct contact with members of the firm from the bottom up—to brainstorm and accomplish each advisor’s goals—not something you normally get at a large firm.”

Part of the reason for Kusak’s enthusiasm lies in how ProEquities can facilitate his investment philosophy of active management, a philosophy he wants to bring to his core practice clients as well as veterans he serves.

Kusak says, “Buy-and-hold investing has proven its ineffectiveness without a doubt. We look to strategies that can capture the majority of market gains in a bull market and avoid much of the losses in a bear market. When you can avoid the big annual losses, infrequent as they may be, your clients are going to be far ahead of the game. We employ strategies that can react to changing market and economic conditions, blending some more traditional core strategies with highly tactical approaches.”

“Our number one priority is to protect the assets of our clients, while using ever-increasing actively managed strategies and tactics to grow them.”

Kusak takes a very process-oriented approach to designing a total financial strategy that meets each client’s objectives, perhaps reflecting his first successful business career of 20 years as a structural engineer.

He sees some analogies between finance and construction engineering and design, saying, “I like to start with the big picture for each client’s financial objectives. Based on their specific data, I then analyze all the factors and variables to develop a customized financial blueprint.

“It starts with a strong foundation, but then has to be constructed to weather all possible adverse conditions. Having active-management building blocks helps me do that.

“I love the process and the outcomes. There is nothing more satisfying than having a client’s plan come together on all levels. Building construction has to work to satisfy safety needs while meeting the practical and functional objectives of its tenants and users. An active management approach is similar. I can help clients grow their assets and drive income while managing risk and being proactive in all market conditions.”

Kusak has had the great fortune of introducing his son and daughter, as well as a younger brother, to the advisory business and feels his team has “the ability to affect the financial future of many people for years to come.” Their advocacy of active management has led to over 50% of their clients in actively managed strategies, with the selection of third-party managers an obviously important component of their overall business priorities.

Kusak says, “Our number one priority is to protect the assets of our clients while using ever-increasing actively managed strategies and tactics to grow them. We believe in the use of long/short tactical strategies and quantitatively-based decision-making, which has a pretty good track record over the last 10-12 years. If the equity markets, based on our models, look to be going south, we want to move to cash and even employ an inverse position on the market if a downtrend is confirmed.

“On the other hand, some leveraged long strategies can help us capture more than our fair share of a bullish trend. We use any number of strategies, and we have a palette of well over 100 strategies to choose from our managers as the need arises. These can include more traditional strategies such as laddered bonds and variable annuities to very tactical algorithm-driven equity strategies to income-generating, high-yielding alternatives and nontraded direct investments.”

While Kusak has won many awards over the years for his team’s production and marketing efforts, perhaps nothing can top the satisfaction he receives from helping veterans get on the road to developing lifelong financial plans.

Importantly, he believes excellent investment tools and strategies should be available to the veteran community. Many will have substantial Thrift Savings Plan assets as they separate from the service or approach retirement, and Kusak is determined to use an actively managed strategy to help preserve and grow those assets.

Kusak says, “Some of my most memorable moments come from handing disabled veterans one of our symbolic Challenge Coins. You realize that sometimes it’s the little things that count the most as you watch the tears well up in their eyes because of what it stands for: integrity, leadership, respect, dedication, service, valor, and honor.”


Manage investment risk better than ever.
Get started – It’s free

About Us

Disclosure: Donald Kusak is president of Patriot Strategic Investments in Houston, Texas. Advisory services offered through Investment Advisors, a division of ProEquities, Inc., a registered investment advisor. Securities offered through ProEquities, Inc., a registered broker-dealer. Member, FINRA & SIPC. VetUSA & Patriot Strategic Investments are independent of ProEquities, Inc.

Photography by Jay Stevens


Manage investment risk better than ever.
Get started – It’s free

About Us