story and photos by Emily Hilley-Sierzchula
Former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee was back in his home state Thursday night (March 6) to speak at the NWA Financial Forum, presented by Mach 1 Financial Group. The event raised more than $24,000 for the Arkansas Children’s Hospital Foundation.
About 500 people paid $20 to attend the event at the John Q. Hammons Center.
Both of the principals with Mach 1 have personal stories related to children’s hospital charities, which inspired them to choose the ACHF as the beneficiary for the event. David Lee, founder and president, has a nephew who was helped by the Little Rock hospital. Kyle Alexander, chief operating officer, has two daughters who were born prematurely and helped by a similar hospital foundation in Georgia.
“It’s an important charity because it touches everybody; it could be your kid or grandkid who needs help,” Alexander said. “They try to make lives better when times are the toughest.”
Huckabee spoke for more than half an hour in a speech that was politics and economics entwined. He spoke to the crowd of investors about the importance of personal financial decisions, drawing distinctions between wise decisions by individuals and unwise government spending.
“I’ve learned valuable lessons from raising three kids and training three dogs,” Huckabee said in his speech.
Good behavior should be rewarded and bad behavior should have consequences, he said. Again, he circled back to the political realm when he opined that the government consistently rewards bad decision-making by Americans. He blamed a weakened job market on “over-taxation, over-regulation, and over-litigation.” Guests gave Huckabee a standing ovation both when he walked onstage to speak and when he left the podium.
“We hold an annual client appreciation event every year,” Alexander said.
This was the first time the event was open to the public and not limited to Mach 1 clients. Previous events have attracted more than a thousand people, about twice as many as this year, he said.
“But those events were sheer entertainment; there was no educational component,” he explained. “People like to be entertained more than they like to be taught.”
This year, “we wanted a speaker who could explain what is going on in this country and the challenges that we have ahead of us,” Alexander said. The firm approached Huckabee through two avenues: Lee’s cousin, who knows the former governor, and also through the “speaking agency” run for Huckabee.
After Huckabee’s speech, seven financial experts spoke about how to invest wisely in the present economic market. The experts were: Dean Zayed, CEO of Brookstone Capital Management; Thomas Hardin, chief investment officer at Canterbury Investment Management; Randy Swan, CFO of Swan Wealth Advisors; Doug Wolff, president of Security Benefit Life; Stephen Blumenthal, CEO of CMG Capital Management Group, Inc.; Jay Pestrichelli and Wayne Ferbert, both principals at ZEGA Financial, LLC.
The Bella Vista-based firm Mach 1 Financial Group was founded in 2005.