Along the way she has also become a fee arbitration panelist for DuPage County in Illinois and a certified divorce financial analyst. She now oversees four other staffers at her namesake firm, and handles retirement and education savings, survivorship planning, taxes and estate planning, as well as divorces, finding equitable, if not always equal settlements. ("It's not the same thing," she says.) Her typical client has at least $1 million in assets, though the firm has no minimum.

"We will take a 40-year-old with corporate benefits and get him on track to be a $2 million client by the time he is 60," Hannon says. She focuses on asset gathering and outsources the money management (working with broker/dealer American Portfolios).

"I believe in diversification, and also in active management of an account," she says. "I like mutual funds but also direct real estate investment and other products that will mitigate risk. I think of myself as a problem-solver to figure out what a client needs to accomplish and then let others manage the money."

Among her clients is Mark Vogel, a former federal prosecutor in Illinois, whose assets Hannon took over from her lost friend. Though Vogel says Hannon introduced him to some new ideas, like acquiring annuities, it was really her work ethic that convinced him and his wife to stay.

"On top of the worst downturn since the Depression, Terry had to reconstruct the entire practice and convert his clients to her own," says Vogel. "She asserted herself and now we are in a good position financially. Under some of the most difficult circumstances possible, she met the challenge. Now if she tells us to do something, we do it."

One of the crucial standards she operated by during the last two years was to keep the clients informed and educate them as much as possible. The firm holds numerous educational sessions for clients, keeps in frequent contact through e-mail and holds social outings for clients and staff.

One client couple, Jani and Jack Graziano of Arlington Heights, Ill., had been in the process of signing with another financial advisor group when a friend suggested they talk to Hannon instead.

"After an hour we signed on with her," Jani Graziano says. "We walked away from the other group-and from our deposit with them-without a second thought. I think they would have done a good job, but we were just an income source for them. With Terry, you become part of the Terry Hannon family."

When Graziano mentioned that she liked the free pen she got at the first meeting, she received a handful when she saw Hannon later. Hannon is also famous for remembering her clients' birthdays, anniversaries and family crises. She visits them in hospitals and calls just to see how they are.

But even more important, she communicates regularly, whether it is good news or bad. When the market was a mess and Hannon was converting the business to her name, she kept clients informed of what was going on instead of hiding the challenges she was facing.
"If something happens in the market, I want my clients to hear it from me first, not from the news," Hannon says.