MEET OUR TEAM.
Theodore “Ted” Lakkides, CFP®
After a 10-year stint working for Fortune 500 companies in marketing and management positions, Ted Lakkides began his financial services career in 1981 by joining a national “brand name” insurance company as a personal and business-planning consultant. However, it only took a few months before Ted came to the conclusion that the sales training he was receiving was inconsistent with his consultative and collaborative approach to serving clients.
Recognizing the futility of changing a large national “brand name” company’s culture and way of doing business, Ted decided to strike out on his own and formed Cygnet Financial Planning in 1982. Since that first day, Cygnet (now known as “Financial Freedom House”) has remained focused on its mission to help all people make sound financial decisions by delivering an education-based, consultative, and fully-transparent planning process that put the client in control of the financial decision-making process.
Ted’s innovations include the development of experiential financial workshops and a variety of individual planning tools designed to simplify how clients address complex financial issues. These tools have since been transitioned into a fully transparent and mass customization process that became known as The Cygnet Process.
He is currently giving back to the community by focusing a large part of his time on the development of a §501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to adult financial literacy education. Ted has also served as part-time member of the faculty at Eastern Michigan University (EMU) teaching personal finance courses and as an adjunct professor in the CFP® program at Walsh College.
Ted graduated from The Ohio State University in 1968 with a B.S. in Business/Economics. In 1989 earned CFP® certification after completing the coursework for and passing the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ exam.
Ted lives on a lake in Waterford where he enjoys relaxing on his pontoon boat and fishing with his grandkids. He takes his love of fishing to another level during the summer while going after walleyes on Lake Erie and fishing for snapper when he takes a break from Michigan winters by spending February in the Florida Keys.
But what he really appreciates is having had the opportunity to work alongside his son Brian for the last 25 years.
Born in Greece, Ted immigrated to the United States at the age of 12 and became a Naturalized Citizen in 1962.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design), and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.
Brian Lakkides, AIF®
Brian Lakkides is responsible for managing the firm and serving as its Chief Compliance Officer. As a client-facing adviser he provides fiduciary investment advisory services to individuals and institutional investors such as 401(k)-style retirement plans.
Since graduating from Kalamazoo College with a degree in Economics in 1992, he has focused his professional life on advocating for the fiduciary standard of care while educating plan sponsors and trustees. He is also a frequent speaker at continuing professional education events nationwide. In 2007 Brian became one of the first two thousand professionals nationwide to receive the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® certification from the Center for Fiduciary Studies and fi360.
Working alongside his father, Brian helped refine The Cygnet Process and was largely responsible for building out the fiduciary risk management, administrative, and consulting services for 401(k)-style retirement plans that became known as the Fiduciary Firewall℠.
Brian is focused on assuring that the non-elitist, transparent, and fiduciary approach to client service that has been so successful to date is continued to be improved upon so that more people can benefit from it over the next 35-years.
Brian lives in Milford (MI) with his wife and three daughters. His is a split household with one college age daughter attending the University of Michigan and the other Michigan State University.
Brian is a soccer nut and avid supporter of Detroit City FC. Having started playing soccer in the mid-1970s, Brian continues to play on a Sunday beer league team and is a USSF licensed soccer referee. He has also completed numerous marathons and triathlons including Ironman Wisconsin in 2008 and is currently preparing for his next race.
Aaron Cary began his career as a financial advisor soon after getting his B.A. in Finance from Oakland University in 2009. During his college years Aaron worked as a bartender/waiter at various resorts in the Outer Banks, NC. His experience in those jobs made it obvious that he not only enjoyed working with and assisting people, but also had a talent for it.
Since joining Cygnet in 2012, his day-to-day focus has been his responsibility for staffing the UFCW Local 876 Retirement Services Center and spearheading participant enrollment and worksite services for the national UFCW Members, Local Unions, and Multi-Employer 401(k).
Through the UFCW Local 876 Financial Wellness Center, Aaron helps members build their plan for retirement by executing The Cygnet Process with a special emphasis being placed on budgetary analysis and investment education. In addition to his extensive financial planning and investment advisory experience, Aaron’s clients benefit from the in-depth knowledge and experience he’s developed working with the UFCW’s national pension plan.
Aaron is currently working through the coursework necessary to sit for the CFP® exam in 2020.
Aaron lives in Clarkston, MI with his wife, Kaylen, and his two young daughters, Rosaylia and Everly. They are currently and always will be his favorite part of life.
Aaron is a huge fan of the Detroit Lions but is just young enough to not be considered a long-time suffering Lions fan. He grew up in a small rural town in Michigan’s thumb and loves spending time outdoors and working on home projects. Aaron’s also a B-movie buff is a frequent guest on a podcast about movies very few people have seen . . . or heard about.
James Denny, AIF®
Jim is a 1971 graduate of Washington & Jefferson College and holds a degree in Economics. Upon graduating from college, he served in the Finance Corps of the United States Army. The next 25 years were spent in the International Division of PNC Financial Services Group. As a result of the negotiation and management skills he developed working at the Corporate Board level while managing an inter-cultural staff, Jim rose to the position of Vice President and Group Manager of both PNC Bank and PNC International Bank.
In the 1990’s, Jim left PNC to form his own firm — J. Denny & Associates — which provided advice to foreign corporations seeking to establish U.S. operations. He also acted as a liaison for those companies with the legal, accounting, and financial industries.
Since 1999, Jim has been actively engaged in the role of an investment adviser for individuals, defined contribution plans and nonprofits. He has undertaken extensive studies with the American College, The College for Financial Planning, The Center for Fiduciary Studies and fi360. He was awarded the Accredited Investment Fiduciary® certificate in April 2006. He is firmly committed to handling each relationship with the highest degree of fiduciary practice and standards.
Jim and his wife reside in Pittsburgh. They are very involved with historic perseveration. His wife is a Director of Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation and he is a loyal volunteer/advisor.
Jim has invested considerable time, talent, and treasure as a Board member of several non-profits. Currently, he is a Board Director & Vice Chairman, Chairman of the Governance Review Committee and member of the Audit Committee of the Endowment Fund of Phi Kappa Psi.