In 1994, John Schneider decided to sneak away from the office for an afternoon of fly-fishing at nearby Beaver Creek, Pa. In order to justify the workday field trip, he invited along a few clients.
The getaway was strictly spontaneous, says Schneider, a fee-only financial planner with Bill Few Associates in Pittsburgh.
Now his outdoor adventures are a little more involved. In October, much to his amusement, Schneider hosted the Sixth Annual Bill Few Associates Fly-Fishing Outing at the Yellow Creek Trout Club in Indiana, Pa.
The event has gradually expanded from a handful of clients and a charcoal grill into two days of fly-fishing, professionally catered creekside lunches and angling lessons from a local pro. About 30 of the firm's clients attend each day, and the outing is held in the spring and fall.
“Clients would come into my office and see pictures of me fly-fishing, and I'd mention my love for fly-fishing in my newsletter once in a while,” Schneider says. “Other advisers and estate planners would find out about this, and I'd invite them. And three or four other consultants here decided to come and bring their clients.”
Schneider moved the outing from its original spot on Beaver Creek to the Yellow Creek Trout Club, which provides guests with some creature comforts such as an A-frame pavilion and indoor plumbing. Yellow Creek is a catch-and-release stream. Anglers can only keep carp. Anything else has to be returned to the water.
“The only reason I started this was just to get out fishing,” Schneider says. “Like everybody else, I'm fairly busy. If it doesn't get on the schedule, I can go through the whole year without getting out much. This way, I know that at least twice a year I will get out.”
The event is purely recreational, Schneider says. No shop talk allowed.
“Even though I host this, and there are lots of other people there with me, I just fish,” Schneider says. “I see everybody at lunch when we all meet, but for the rest of the day, I'm fishing.”
Although Schneider is focused on the catch, he makes provisions for novice anglers. Last fall, the owner of a local tackle shop brought a dozen extra rods and reels and gave some basic fly-fishing lessons to beginners.
Since the number of clients attending continues to increase, Schneider is considering turning the outing into a charitable event to raise funds for a center in Pittsburgh that helps mentally retarded adults. Schneider and his wife, Patty, have already established a family foundation to help the center.
“Charitable giving is up, and we're seeing a lot of that within the firm,” he says. “So I think there's an opportunity to turn this into something that will do some good.”