THE FFH STORY.
A vision of helping all people — not just the wealthy
After leaving the army, Theodore “Ted” Lakkides started his career in the 1970s climbing the corporate ladder with companies like Unilever, Arm & Hammer, and ITT. Tired of spending so much time on the road away from his family, he decided to get out of the rat race. After taking some time off to go fishing and work on a home remodel, he joined a large national financial services company as a personal and business-planning consultant.
He quickly became disillusioned by the company’s high-pressure sales tactics, which promoted financial planning but was a predetermined process to sell life insurance. Unable to implement a more transparent, educational, and “truly planning-oriented” approach, Ted decided to strike out on his own.
The son of a meat packer mother and steelworker father, Ted’s vision was to build a firm that would help all people make sound financial decisions to maximize the quality of their lifestyle — not just the wealthy. Thus, he formed an independent financial planning and investment advisory firm that reflected his values and philosophy on client service.
Incorporated in 1983, Cygnet Financial Planning, Inc., now Financial Freedom House (FFH) was built from the ground up as a non-elitist, fully transparent, and client-centered firm that actually does what others imply.
Fresh out of college, Ted’s son Brian joined the firm in 1992 and has played a key role in helping to refine and institutionalize the “Cygnet Process.” In the early 2000’s Brian began developing a suite of compliance and processional fiduciary services for 401(k) plans that served as the foundation for what became known as the Fiduciary Firewall℠.
Over 35 years later, Ted’s original vision of a firm that he would be proud to work for and would treat clients the way he wanted his parents to be treated has been fulfilled. Now into the second generation of leadership and with strong Midwestern roots, clients can be assured that Financial Freedom House will stay true to Ted’s vision of a non-elitist, fully transparent, and client-centered firm for another 35 years…and beyond.
1982 — Ted Lakkides opens first office in Lakeland Ice Arena, Waterford, MI.
1983 — Ted incorporates and moves offices to Birmingham, MI.
1985 — FFH relocates offices to Pontiac, MI.
1989 — FFH relocates offices to Rochester Hills, MI and Ted establishes Cygnet Institute of Personal Financial Literacy.
1991 — Cygnet Institute is approved by General Motors Tuition Assistance Program to provide self-completing and experiential financial planning workshops to salaried employees of GM’s Powertrain Division.
1992 — Brian Lakkides joins FFH and co-founds Corporate Plan Administrators, Inc. to provide TPA services to 401(k) retirement plans and §125 cafeteria plans.
1998 — FFH formally documents the Cygnet Process — a 5-step process for cash-flow-based financial planning and investor education.
1999 — FFH rebrands from Cygnet Financial Planning to Cygnet Financial Freedom House.
2000 — FFH moves offices back to Waterford, MI.
2000 — FFH begins serving as investment fiduciary for a large multi-employer 401(k) plan that includes the Farmer Jack division of A&P grocery stores.
2004-2016 — FFH develops the Fiduciary Firewall – a single point of contact and fully outsourced solution for 401(k) and 403(b) plans.
2012 — FFH establishes custody relationship at TD Ameritrade Institutional.
2014 — FFH surpasses $50 million in assets under management.
2016 — FFH surpasses $75 million in assets under management. Cygnet is audited and awarded certification as an Investment Advisor by the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX), an independent global assessment and certification organization. (CFX 10319)
2017 — FFH surpasses $100 million in assets under management and adopts Fiduciary Firewall Advisers as the brand for 401(k)/403(b) institutional fiduciary services.
2018 — FFH transitions from a state-registered to a federally-registered investment adviser. Ted Lakkides becomes Chairman and Brian Lakkides becomes President.
2019 — FFH launches rebranding for individual non-institutional services as Financial Freedom House.