Born in New Orleans, Louisiana, Renée grew up around constant music, an overabundance of delicious food, and an extended family that perfectly embodies the quote by Times Picayune reporter Chris Rose, “We dance even if there’s no radio. We drink at funerals. We talk too much and laugh too loud and live too large and, frankly, we’re suspicious of others who don’t.”
Renée lived in various cities and towns along the Gulf Coast until age 20 when she began chasing natural gas pipelines across the country. All told, she has lived in 10 states and visited 26 others. After that grand adventure she decided going to college as a single mom was a great idea. So, she did; graduating magna cum laude from the University of South Alabama. She went on to earn a master’s degree in Journalism from the University of Alabama and a fellowship from The Poynter Institute for Media Studies, before moving back to Mobile, AL in 2002.
While working three simultaneous jobs as an adjunct professor at Springhill College, music editor for a local magazine named Lagniappe, and market researcher for Buena Vista Pictures, Inc., Renée took a part-time job with DailyAccess, Corp., a young 401(k) recordkeeper. She found the work interesting and before she knew it she’d spent nine years in the Trading Dept., and another five as a Relationship Manager. During her tenure with DailyAccess, the company merged with Verisight, Inc., in California and The Newport Group in Florida. Renée joined the LeafHouse team from Newport Group in May 2018.
In addition to her experience in the retirement industry, Renée is a published writer and photographer, was briefly part of an improv comedy troupe and has written and performed murder mystery plays. She reads everything she can get her hands on and is a rabid fan of Brandon Sanderson. Renée loves listening to live music, attending nerd conventions, engaging in witty repartee, volunteering for non-profits, and galivanting in the woods. She spends much of her free time inventing excuses about why she no longer writes and cuddling a tiny adorable dog. She’s also very funny.
Although Ben was born in Virginia, he considers himself a native Texan, having lived in Texas for most of his life. He has an especially large family with three brothers and six sisters. His father is a retired major in the United States Air Force, and his mother is the choir director of their church.
For the past ten years, Ben has worked in the restaurant industry as both a crew member and manager. This experience taught him the importance of working together as team and the value of exceptional customer service. He is excited to apply these skills in a different setting and continue to learn and build his career at LeafHouse.
When he’s not at work, Ben enjoys being active, playing music, and spending time with his family and friends. He is a singer, songwriter, and skilled musician in piano, guitar, ukulele, and bass. You might even catch him over the weekend playing some tunes around the greater Austin area.
Ben Bates, Vice President of Key Accounts, has an extensive 17 year background in large case acquisition and relationship management. Bates is responsible for partnering with: Advisors, Third-party Administrators, Plan Sponsors, Recordkeepers and Broker Dealers to find solutions for the plan sponsor and plan participants. He has created Relationship Manager teams to support complex client needs and to improve the client experience at both public entities and private companies.
Before joining LeafHouse, Bates handled business management activities and drove operational efficiencies to improve outcomes for participants at Nationwide Retirement Solutions. In his previous role as the National Client Relationship Manager, Bates was responsible for sophisticated corporate 401k and 403(b) plans.
Bates has devoted his career to helping participants take the necessary steps to build up their retirement savings to sustain a dignified retirement. Bates realized early in his career that plan design, and partnerships with the plan sponsors and advisors, resulted in measurable and meaningful changes to the retirement outcome of the plan participants.
Kassandra returned to Austin after living and working in New York City for a decade. Before joining LeafHouse, Kassandra established her career at two large investment banks on Wall Street to support Fortune 500 and institutional clients.
As an officer responsible for operational and client strategic initiatives, she collaborated directly with executive leadership and clients to develop innovative programs. In transitioning back to Austin, Kassandra focused on business development for a technology company that provides data analytics and enables Internet of Things (IOT) on an enterprise-level cloud-based platform for REITS and commercial asset managers nationwide.
Kassandra is responsible for working with the Business Development team at LeafHouse to promote the company’s Fiduciary Investment Management Services to financial advisors and other retirement specialists. She helps LeafHouse improve the retirement industry one plan at a time.
Kassandra is an art enthusiast and finds the most enjoyment in creativity and discovering new concepts. Whether it be behind a camera lens, traveling, or enjoying different genres of music, she finds inspiration through collaboration and the ideas of others. Kassandra is a native of Austin, TX, studied in Paris at the Sorbonne, and received her degree from St. Edward’s University.
Karla holds a Bachelor’s of Business Administration in Economics from the University of Texas at El Paso. While pursuing her studies, she spent a year abroad in Brussels, Belgium where she worked as a research fellow for an NGO. Karla also interned with The Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas at El Paso conducting economic development research.
Shortly after completing her education, she moved to Austin, Texas to join Charles Schwab gaining experience in the 401k space and obtaining her securities registration. Karla has since joined LeafHouse as she saw an excellent opportunity to marry her passion for research and experience in finance.
Besides staying active and exploring the world, Karla enjoys cooking and spending time with her family.
Growing up in the Mojave Desert, Erica enjoyed running long distance in the dry heat. She found her passion as an artist at an early age participating in various fairs and art shows, including a small showing of her work in New York.
Erica graduated from California State University at Northridge with a degree in English writing while participating as a varsity springboard and platform diver throughout her college term. She then spent 20 years as an aquatic professional before an on the job accident shifted her gears to other job opportunities.
Proud to have the love of her indescribably wonderful husband Erica also has two phenomenal children. An admirer of Buddhism and zen culture, Erica lives a simple dedicated lifestyle of family and love for all things while striving to be patient, mindful and observant regardless of circumstance.
Dale joined Leafhouse after a 30-year career in video game development, finally heeding the advice of his junior high school guidance counselor to “get a real job”. He grew up in Bryan/College Station, Texas and like 75% of the college-bound students from his high school, attended Texas A&M University. While in college he started a business that eventually monopolized his time, and put college on the back burner. In the meantime, he was married to his wife, Erin, who was studying to be a Veterinarian. Her ever increasing stockpile of degrees eventually shamed Dale into completing school at Sam Houston State University, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Art.
How did the guy with the “Art” degree become Leafhouse’s CTO? Over his gaming career, Dale gradually transformed from a pure artist to a technical artist (who bridges the gap between software engineers and artists), and eventually to Technical Art Director (who oversees technical artists and software engineers working to build tools and processes). This transition was driven by Dale’s dislike for doing things the hard way beyond the first time and the realization that most manual processes can be proceduralized. While at Leafhouse, Dale has authored various tools and processes, including the Leafhouse GPA scoring tool and marketing system.
Dale and his wife moved to Austin as soon as they could (1999). They live with their two boys on the edge of town overlooking the Balcones Canyonland Preserve. From that base of operations, they enjoy roving Austin and the rest of the Texas hill country, tasting local wines, camping, hiking, kayaking and taking advantage of the excellent food culture.
Dale enjoys making art and furniture and can often be found out in the garage-studio ankle deep in sawdust and/or spattered with paint.
Marley moved to Austin, TX from Houston during her time at Southwestern University. There, she studied Business with interests in Economics and Marketing. While at Southwestern, she was involved in community engagement programs as well as leadership groups. This instilled well-rounded values and a strong work ethic for life after graduation.
When not at work, Marley can be found trying new restaurants with her sister and friends, playing tennis, swimming, or hiking one of Austin’s many beautiful trails.
Adrian’s claim to fame came at the .19 second mark of the 2005 National Championship game, when his alma mater, the University of Texas, by way of Vince Young’s heroics, scored on the Longhorns final drive against USC. If you pan the video shortly after the touchdown, you will see Adrian in the stands, cheering wildly in burnt orange hair at the greatest college football game of all time.
Since his days at the University of Texas, Adrian has re-focused his energy from fanatical school spirit to various investment related endeavors, ranging from work with High Net Worth individuals to Institutional Investment Management. At Leafhouse, Adrian is responsible for the research and quantitative analysis of third party strategies. He is also responsible for analyzing and proposing retirement plan lineups to ensure alignment within fiduciary standards.
Adrian’s passion for maximizing investments is equaled only by his enthusiasm for sharing life experiences with his wife, Stephanie, and their dog, Jax. Outside of work, you can find them dining on a local patio or travelling to scenic beaches. Adrian believes, as does Leafhouse, that having a great work-life balance leads to greater success individually and in business.
Neal was born and raised in El Paso, Texas. He graduated from the University of Texas at El Paso with a Bachelor’s degree in Finance as well as a Master’s Degree in Business Administration. He’s very proud to say one of his first jobs was “ditch riding”. Anyone who has spent time on farms or watering large chunks of land can appreciate pick axes, ditches, sleepless nights and MUD!
Neal moved to Austin, Texas via Dallas in the mid 90’s. He’ll always be a UTEP Miner but has adopted the Texas Longhorns as his surrogate home team. He’s a big sports fan and one question people always ask is “how did you become a Lakers fan growing up in West Texas?”. One word: Cable
When Neal isn’t cheering for his teams he’s spending time coaching little league baseball or basketball with his son or watching soccer games with his two daughters. The greatest thing according to Neal, other than his wife’s beautiful eyes, is being a dad.
Neal has a bunch of designations and other “business” accolades but when asked to list them he said “nah, just google me”.
Being born in Iowa and growing up in Texas can foster an interesting personality for anyone. Due to his divergent upbringing and various other factors, Todd loves the Steelers in football and the Spurs in basketball. He dislikes both hot weather and snow. Both tent camping and 5 star hotels suit him just fine. He loves the mountains because neither Iowa nor central Texas has any. And he is comfortable talking to anyone from anywhere; he will even use the words “Ya’ll” and “You Guys” in the same sentence.
At the age of 22, Todd decided to start his own wealth management practice. His thoughts were, “who else is better to help guide families to secure financial futures than a 22-year-old that actually went to school specifically to get a degree in finance and to become a Certified Financial Planner™?” OK, he admits that the age factor made it difficult for him to convince 50 year olds to let him manage their life savings.
The career choice proved to be a fantastic one. By the age of 27, Todd was one of the highest producing advisors out of the over 10,000 advisors that were in the parent firm. By the time Todd turned 31, he and his business partner, Neal Weaver were listed in Texas Monthly among the top 10 Most Dependable Wealth Managers in Texas.
Not long after, Todd and Neal sold their successful wealth management business in order to start LeafHouse Financial Advisors, a dedicated Retirement Plan firm. In breaking away and forming LeafHouse, they fulfilled their passion to create a business and an environment free of conflicts of interest and dedicated to the idea that no one and nothing comes before the client.
A few years later, Todd became one of the first Registered Fiduciary™ credentialed advisors based in the state of Texas. He utilizes his fiduciary commitments in his role as Managing Director of LeafHouse Financial Advisors, where he estimates he has been able to demonstrate to hundreds of companies how to save tens-of-millions of dollars in retirement plan costs.
He has become a sought after national speaker and authority in the retirement plan arena. Todd has been interviewed by Fox Business News and spoken for numerous groups such the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the Texas Association of Business, and over a dozen SHRM chapters. Todd was recently named to The National Association of Plan Advisors’ (NAPA) “Top 50 Plan Advisors Under 40.” Unfortunately, a few months later he turned 40.
In 2016, Todd and Neal, achieved two of the biggest honors to-date: LeafHouse was one of 3 Finalists for the National Association of Plan Advisors’ 401(k) Leadership Award, and LeafHouse was listed by PlanAdviser Magazine as one of the Top 100 Plan Advisers in the country.
Todd is married to a terrific red-head named Lori. Together, they have an energetic and inquisitive little boy named Max and a beautiful daughter named Madeleine. The Kadings recently adopted a jet-black, standard poodle that Maddie named “Hanna Banana”. As a family they enjoy camping, hiking, off-road driving, fishing and many other outdoor and wilderness activities.
In 2011, Todd completed what he refers to as, “the hardest thing I ever did” – an Olympic Distance Triathlon called the TriWaco Triathlon, where he received a medal for coming in 3rd to last.
Monica was born and raised in a small town in the middle of the Sam Houston National Forest near Lake Conroe, Texas. Eating organic didn’t mean a trip to Central Market for Monica’s family! She loves meeting new people and laughing as much as possible. Her parents influenced her attitude to never be afraid to offer a helping hand or face a new challenge. She grew up with two older brothers and learned some of the important things in life; how to negotiate, throw a perfect spiral, and how to roll with the punches. Monica played several sports growing up including basketball, softball, track, and cross country. She took advantage of a higher education opportunity and graduated from Texas Woman’s University. Monica’s kryptonite is live music and exotic food… big reasons why Austin, Texas won her heart! Monica can be found either kayaking on Lady Bird Lake, river splashing at Reimers Ranch or hiking in the Hill Country.
Growing up in Clearwater, FL, Jennifer learned how to bait a hook, free dive, and fuel a boat before getting her driver’s license. Starting at a young age by working at her family’s marina and managing the bait shop, her parents instilled in her a strong work ethic and a passion to live her life to the fullest. While being active in her community, Jennifer was an avid participant in high school, pursing and winning appointments in her school government, swimming her way to Districts, and being the first JV Captain on the Women’s Flag Football team. This lead Jennifer to her attendance at Florida State University, where she motivated students to be more involved in the Student Life Cinema and she was an integral part of the creation of the now established and loved Grindhouse Café. She made the move to Austin in 2008, diving into uncharted waters and excited to embrace the wilds of the city. Jennifer can be found all around Austin, whether viewing a film at the Alamo Drafthouse, hiking the many trails with her friends, or discovering new places to eat in the ever-expanding food culture of Austin.
Mike has over 12 years’ experience keeping plan sponsors and advisors happy in a number of roles in the retirement plan industry. Whether it is a participant, a company, or a financial advisor his role at LeafHouse is to help others make informed decisions about navigating today’s retirement plan environment. When not in the office he can be found howling at the moon in the great outdoors, breaking and fixing electronic devices, watching or playing sports, or spending time with his niece and nephews. He also has some fancy paper hanging on his wall from Texas Tech University and is constantly struggling to find inner peace in Austin when football season rolls around.