The Madison County Chamber will recognize “Big” Joe Clark as its Entrepreneur of the Year at the 17th Annual MCC Entrepreneur Award and Falls School of Business Scholarship Award Luncheon on Friday, Dec. 1. Clark is the owner of Financial Enhancement Group LLC.
Clark learned early on while growing up in Muncie, and later Otterbein, Indiana, that high academic achievement does not always equate to solid money management skills. In fact, despite coming from a family of well-educated teachers, there were times as a young boy that poor money management led to multiple utility disconnect notices and financial insecurity in his family’s household. These early life experiences would eventually lead Joe to dedicate his life’s work to educating others about asset management, estate planning, retirement distribution and tax planning. Currently, his company has 24 employees, with six locations in the United States, representing approximately 800 families, and more than $330 million in assets.
Joe’s professional journey began as a student at Indiana University Bloomington, where he planned to become an estate planner. After cumbersome changes in tax codes in 1986, along with discovering two of his professors did not share his love of country and honor of military service, he decided to leave IU. Confident in himself, his knowledge, and his passion to serve in the industry, Joe convinced the Certified Financial Planner (CFP) Board to give him a chance at taking courses, along with his certification test. Joe passed and became one of the youngest CFP’s in the local market. Joe met his wife, Barbara, in Anderson, where he settled down and helped raise his two daughters, while co-founding Financial Enhancement Group, LLC in 1997. Admittedly, Anderson is no Mecca for financial planning. Therefore, growing his business has meant developing a client base outside of Madison County and Indiana. His national recognition through hosting a long-standing radio show and contributing to local and national financial news sources has also led him to Purdue University, where in 2008 he became an adjunct assistant professor for the school’s first bachelor degree program in financial planning. What was meant to be a single semester assignment turned into seven years. He gets the honor of teaching and sharing his knowledge with the capstone class that brings all the critical financial elements together.
Entrepreneurial advice for Anderson Simple… 1. Embrace managed risk.2. Shake the Midwest mindset of failing once means there’s no chance for success.
He cites that with failure comes learning and with learning ultimately comes sustainable success. Joe also believes that learning what to do when you fail is one of the most valuable lessons a successful entrepreneur can learn. Joe claims to be simple and straightforward in his approach to business and life. “My personality is about getting to the bare bones of a problem and surrounding myself with the right people who can come together to fix the problem.”
Building a community Joe acknowledges that he could move his offices to a variety of locations within the Indy Metro Area. However, he remains committed and happily anchored to the community in which he lives, worships, and serves.
Joe is happy to build his community, although he admits he does not feel he is best suited for serving on community boards. “I am used to running things. Boards are set up for multiple leaders. I have chosen for me the best is to build my community is through charitable giving and education.” Joe proudly reports that he is not alone. “Anderson has a lot of charitable, giving people. We don’t say enough about the good stuff going on in Anderson and Madison County.” Here is just a sampling of organizations to which Joe Clark supports:
So, what’s the origin of “Big” Joe Clark? “This was a marketing blunder, as I call it,” Joe admits. Sometimes, life events dictate these brands that are hard to shake. “I was 11 1/2 lbs. at birth,” Joe reports. When you are starting and growing a business, putting in all the hours, that doesn’t always lend to a healthy lifestyle. "At 440 lbs I decided this is no way to live, so I decided to have bariatric surgery. Now that I’ve lost much of the weight, I still have people coming up to me asking if they can still call me 'Big Joe.' That’s how most people know me. I don’t mind it. Just don’t call me 'Little' or 'Medium Joe.' In fact, 'Joe' is just fine.”