• "Pointing the Way to Retirement Income Security"
  • "Breaking Through the Investment Return Barrier"

About Us

The Compass Institute is a privately-funded research group formed in the late 1990s dedicated to investment strategy research and investment education. The Institute seeks to deliver outstanding value not only to individuals but also to organizations who desire to add meaningful value to the lives of their employees.

The Institute's Adaptive Asset Allocation™ (AAA) approach to finding best-positioned investment candidates is a proven, understandable and sustainable system by which investors can substantially and safely improve their long-term investing results. AAA is licensed for sale to the public through third-party affiliations including Compass Investors (sold under the name HORIZON™).

At The Institute

Kevin Coppola (Founder)

Having spent more than 20 years with Accenture helping companies achieve excellence through innovation and optimization, Kevin Coppola combines powerful expertise in program management, systems design, strategic thinking and the building of organizations for exploiting new and advancing technologies.

After retiring from Accenture in 2001, Kevin founded the Compass Institute and serves as its Chief Research Officer. Since the proliferation of investment strategies in the late 1980s based on the work of Harry Markowitz (the Efficient Frontier and Modern Portfolio theory), Coppola has perceived and exposed several inherent flaws in commonly marketed asset allocation strategies for retirement accounts based on those components.

Recognizing these flaws and personally aware of the gaps in existing retirement education curricula, he made it the Institute's goal to help every American worker make better decisions when planning and building for retirement. Starting with setting a realistic goal for achieving Retirement Income Security, Coppola sought out an alternative investment solution which would safely allow anyone to increase their investment return high enough to have the kind of retirement they wanted and deserved based after a lifetime of hard work.

Kevin also serves as the President of Compass Investors.

Kevin holds a B.S. in Computer Science from Northwestern University.

Tim Scherman (Research)

Timothy H. Scherman has been a writer and editor with the Compass Institute since 1998, most recently authoring the Institute's 2012 white paper, "Breaking Bad For Boomers."

Tim has dedicated himself to translating what is most worthwhile of specialized discoursesfrom politics, to education, literary theory and here, retirement planninginto plain English.

Scherman has taught American Literature at Northeastern Illinois University since 1993. The first recipient of the Audrey Reynolds Distinguished Teaching award at NEIU in 2008, he represented the university on the Faculty Advisory Council to the Illinois Board of Higher Education from 2004 to 2012, drafting papers for that state-wide body on improved Teacher Preparation, P-20 Alignment, and College Readiness, among others subjects, and was chosen to chair the first University Planning and Budgetary Council at NEIU in 2009.

Tim holds a B.A. in English (with honors) from Dartmouth College and a Ph.D. from Duke University (American Literature and Critical Theory).

Barry L. Finkelstein
(Strategy Advisor)

Currently with New York Life, Barry Finkelstein has been providing comprehensive insurance and investment services since 1978. Barry holds certifications in seven financial categories, including Chartered Financial Consultant, Certified Financial Planner, Registered Employee Benefits Consultant and holds a financial services masters degree from American College.

Barry helps individuals achieve a more secure future for themselves, their families, and businesses by providing a wide range of products and services to address their needs and goals.

Barry is a life and qualifying member of the Million Dollar Roundtable and has served as president of both the Chicago Estate Planning Council, and the Greater North Shore Estate & Financial Planning Council.

Barry obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin (Comparative Literature).

Ralf Seiffe (Strategy)

Ralf graduated from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1976. His illustrious career began as a senior lending officer for the former Fidelity-Philadelphia Trust Company.

In 1980, he founded Mail Sort, Inc., a mailing services company in the Chicago area. Mr. Seiffe won the USPS's Industry Excellence Award and, in 1989, marshaled the team that created ElectroCom Mail Systems.

Since 2002, Ralf concentrated on developing private start-ups as an investor or as an early stage manager and most recently served on the Illinois Policy Institute and the Institute for Truth in Accounting.

Sadly, we join Ralf's family in mourning his untimely passing in 2011. The Institute owes him a debt of gratitude for his leadership and guidance during our early days.



Customer Advocate Committee

The goal of the Customer Advocate Committee was to provide essential feedback regarding consumer behavior and decision-making.

David M. Aki

David was an Associate Partner at the Accenture CIO organization. Over his 25 year career at Accenture he served in many capacities including: member of the CIO Management Team with specific responsibilities for overseeing Global Program direction, Customer Service Management, Director of the Deployable Resource Group. Program Director in the Global Solution Center and was a Senior Consultant in the Technology Solutions Group for over fifteen years.

Dave brings a diverse set of strengths as an advisor to the organization including both practical and conceptual problem-solving skills.

He holds a Master's of Business Administration in Finance from Indiana University and a Bachelor of Arts in history from Carleton College.

Margaret Z. Young

Margaret has been a licensed and practicing Architect for over 36 years. In private practice her responsibilities included managing the design and construction of major Chicago hi-rise buildings. As a Senior Executive first with Arthur Andersen and later with Accenture, Margaret assisted the organizations with the selection of new sites, of design consultants and construction teams, and with the management of over 2 million square feet of build-out.

Margaret's strong organizing skills, focus on details and fair mindedness allowed her to excel in her long career and provides a good background for this advisory role.

She holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts in Architecture from the University of Illinois.

Latest Blog Post

"The Sequence of Return Risk:
How It Can Make or Break Your Retirement"

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CI Expands Services to Include Providers of Commission-Free ETFs

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