PJ McDaniel is a Partner in Hill Investment Group and leads the Business Development efforts of the firm. He is one of the most likable people you’ll ever meet and has developed a professional process to match prospective clients to the right plan for them. In addition, PJ is a member of the firm’s Financial Planning Committee.
PJ also oversees Hillfolio, Hill Investment Group’s powerful solution for emerging investor. In this role, PJ is helping realize our long-held dream of bringing evidence-based investing to clients who otherwise wouldn’t have access to the institutional portfolios and exceptional service that are the hallmarks of the Hill Investment Group (HIG) experience.
PJ’s connection with the firm began nine years ago when he and Matt Hall began serving on the St. Louis Club board. Besides bonding over their status as the “young guys” on the board, the two also shared careers in the financial services industry. For 13 years, PJ worked for investment firms that provided alternative investment products—a job that required him to call on thousands of financial advisors around that country. Those visits showed PJ how widely the quality of the client’s experience varied depending on the advisor’s approach: While many advisors were committed to doing what’s right for their clients, others remained stuck in the traditional Wall Street culture prioritized company profits over people.
Increasingly bothered by this discrepancy—and looking for a way to positively impact client lives, PJ approached Matt for advice on a career change. Call it fate or just good timing, but their conversation coincided with Hill Investment Group beginning serious work on the Hillfolio platform. The two realized they had a unique opportunity to work together on achieving a shared dream.
PJ’s skills in launching and growing new businesses, combined with his passion for evidence-based investing and client service, make him the ideal champion for our mission to put logic, data, and evidence to work for everyone.
My wife, Jennifer, and I have been married since 2008, and we’ve grown our McDaniel tribe to a party of five, raising three boys, Jack, Patrick, and Henry. Those three wild boys help us find the kid (or superhero- see photo) in ourselves and keep our lives interesting. My wife is an accomplished evidenced-based registered dietitian, cookbook author, corporate wellness guru, and media spokesperson who locals may have seen Jen on Great Day St.Louis on KMOV Channel 4 news station. Her best work, however, is being a mother to our boys.
What attracted me to Hill Investment Group
My initial attraction to Hill Investment Group was the people and their genuine dedication to our clients. Now that I’m active in my role, I see up close how deliberate our team is doing the right thing for the individuals we represent. I spent the past 13 years of my career as a consultant to financial advisors, and I’ve seen the good and bad of the financial services industry. Too few advisors are truly committed to their fiduciary responsibilities. This gap is why I am so excited to play a direct role in moving more people into a better solution.
Most interesting college job
During the summers in Denver, where I went to college, I worked as a caddy at Aspen’s exclusive country club. Not only was this a dream job for a golf lover, but it also got even sweeter when I had the chance to caddy for Tiger Woods, President Clinton (while in office), various actors/musicians, and countless other characters.
No matter who you are, golf will level the playing field. Whether you watch a billionaire tycoon or the leader of the free world duff a chip, it reminds you that we’re all human, but the real eye-opener is to see how people handle or recovery from those mistakes.
My evidence-based "ah ha" moment
The light bulb came on while reading the second to last chapter titled “Stacking the Odds” in Matt’s book, Odds On. I related to many of the topics in his book. Still, it wasn’t until Matt laid out the cold, hard facts dating back to 1926 about the benefits of evidence-based investing versus old-school active, marketing-timing investing.
Business travel. I’d give up all of my Southwest and Marriott points as well as the expensed steak dinners, to get the time back I missed away from my family.
Riding my bike to work. The fresh air and light exercise gets my head ready for the day. It also reminds me of how lucky I am to be able to ride to work.
Most interesting fact
I’ve traveled around the world twice. My first trip was an experience called “Semester at Sea,” where I, along with 700 lucky college students, traveled from Vancouver to Florida. We visited 10 countries in 100 days on this converted cruise liner. The experience was eye-opening in many ways, ignited my love for travel, and reminded me of how blessed we are to live in the United States. My second trip around the world was an independent cathartic adventure, borne out of burnout. Feeling dissatisfied after my time in a cutthroat brokerage firm in San Francisco, I quit my job, sold all material possessions, and left the country. My solo backpacking trip started in South America, where I was mugged at knifepoint on the first full day of my journey. Despite that rough start, I continued traveling through South America and Europe, Southeast Asia, Australia, New Zealand, and Fiji. I could write a book solely on the crazy stories from these travels, but the most valuable takeaway was the perseverance, independence, and flexibility I cultivated during those six months. I’m planning my next global adventure with my wife for when we’re both retired.
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho. A classic story about the incredible journey of life.
Overcoming a stutter. My late father had a stutter, I have a stutter, and my son has a stutter. As a kid, I was petrified to answer questions, read aloud, or participate in group speaking activities. Public speaking is the number one fear for many people; I can tell you that it is even more crippling for someone with a stutter or speech difficulty. Whether it was determination or grit, throughout my life I have chosen to face these fears by accepting opportunities that require me to speak publicly. While I will never be 100% fluent (which, really, no one is), I continue to welcome the chance to communicate and face the reality that we all have challenges—it’s what you do with them that determines your future.
The King’s Speech which is based upon a true story of overcoming adversity.
“You are no better than anyone else, but there is nobody else any better than you.”
–Joseph H. Kuebel, Sr.
Greatest athletic accomplishments
I ran the Big Sur Marathon with my wife. Training with a sports dietitian made me understand the importance of staying disciplined for a training and fuel plan that led to a successful race. I also swam the Escape from Alcatraz race—twice. After getting dumped off in frigid, rough waters near the prison—you truly feel like an escapee ready to swim for your life. I wore a thick wetsuit and thermal swim cap, but a few crazy folks only had a speedo. Yikes!