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Albert A. Fox: Finding a Cure

Firm: Merrill Lynch

City: Mt. Laurel, N.J.

AGE: 40

Years as advisor: 18

Years with current firm: 18

AUM: $525 million

Production: $3.5 million

Specialty: transition management with retirees and business owners, full suite of financial planning and investment management services for people without the time, wherewithal or mindset to handle their financial affairs for themselves.

Designations, licenses: CFP, CIMA , Series 7, 31, 63, 65

Albert A. Fox has a mission. He wants to eliminate the suffering caused by renal disease. He knows a little more than he'd like about this particular kind of suffering. His father, Ivan Fox, fell ill with renal disease in 1994, and Fox was his father's primary caretaker for the next five years. His father died in 1999 at the age of 57.

Fox first got involved in his local chapter of the National Kidney Foundation in 1997, doing whatever was needed, putting together walks and golf tournaments and fund raising events. A few years in, he began taking on leadership roles in the organization, and eventually served two terms as chairman, from 2003 and 2007. “Frankly no one wanted me to go, and it was working,” he says. His primary work at the foundation has been to help build the foundation's endowment to $10 million from $1 million, to increase physician education on the subject of renal disease, and to help the organization lobby the state of New Jersey to include what are called GFR screenings — which detect early warning signs of kidney disease — in primary care blood work. These screenings are now mandatory in New Jersey and a number of other states; New Jersey was the first. He also spent at least one Saturday a month for about five years volunteering at free screenings offered to poor, underserved inner-city communities.

When his father passed away, Fox's commitment to the organization only grew, he says, because he needed a channel for the pain. “My resolve to raise money became stronger, the energy I put into the GFR screening work, and I didn't want board members who just wanted to throw their names on the letterhead and put it on the CV. I wanted board members that wanted to roll their sleeves up and say, ‘I'm in pain over this and I'm fearless about the cause and I really want to do everything that I can do.’ It really drove me hard to be that focused and motivated really because of the pain that I had.”

Since 2007, Fox has served on the foundation's executive committee and an advisory committee. He says he's less involved today than he was, but he's not giving up.

“I think there will be periods of time when I'm more involved and periods of time when I'm less involved. But not until there is a cure for kidney disease will my work be done. When there's a cure, maybe we can have a conversation that says there's no need for there to be a kidney foundation.”

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