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Bank welcomes new financial advisor

A turn in the stock market had Richard O'Connor concerned last week.

The market, which had been high earlier this month, appeared to be turning around, O'Connor said Friday. Tracking it is part of his job as financial advisor for area M&I Banks, including the Ellsworth office.

"We've tested the highs, now it looks like we're going to test the lows," he said.

M&I was seeking a certified financial planner and bank officials approached him, the St. Paul native said. Self-taught, he successfully completed six exams plus a two-day comprehensive exam to become certified.

For bank customers, he helps with investments, O'Connor said. He's pleased with the options available to them as well as the "top-of-the-line" proprietary products. He works with managed assets, retirements, lines-of-credit and business successions.

"Many of my clients are small businesses looking for services," he said, noting sometimes assistance he gives to business people leads to his advising them as individuals, and vice versa.

The St. Paul Johnson High School graduate said he attended the University of Notre Dame, majoring in government and international relations, and minoring in economics.

"I wanted to go into politics," he said.

He worked in the late U.S. Sen. Hubert Humphrey's Washington, D.C., office in 1973 and on Humphrey's campaign in 1976, he said. He himself was in the Minnesota legislature for 12 years, a state representative from St. Paul's east side from 1980 to 1992.

"That's where I got my start in financial services," he said, explaining he was a member of a government operations committee overseeing the pension plan for all state employees.

In '92, O'Connor took a position with Minnesota's deferred compensation program, he said. He assisted school districts statewide with their 403b programs, was involved in negotiations between districts and teachers, worked on tax annuities programs and more.

Three years later, he went to City Group, dealing with health care pension plans, retirement plans and 401ks for corporations, among other duties, he said.