An Unexpected Depth of Experience
For a small, independent practice, we bring to bear unique and valuable backgrounds. Where else would you find a team that includes:
- a deputy to Jack Bogle (founder of Vanguard)
- a Wall Street analyst
- a compliance veteran of several SEC audits
- a professional day trader
- a leader of a $6 billion institutional investment firm
- a Harvard MBA
- a Russian immigrant turned fervent capitalist
In other words, we have a first-hand understanding of the inner workings of the financial services industry. Our diverse experiences have prepared us better than simply learning how to sell complicated products or present standardized plans.
We use our knowledge to educate clients and develop the best solutions for them. Just as important, we protect clients from the endless barrage of financial products and services that are not in their best interest and may be harmful to their financial health.
More About Us
is the founding principal of Gordian Advisors. The consistent themes throughout his career have been leadership, communication, client relations and navigating change.
After two stints in retail banking, Dave spent nine years as a principal with The Vanguard Group of Investment Companies, beginning as the assistant to John C. Bogle, Vanguard’s chairman. Dave managed a number of groups serving institutional investors and 401k sponsors and was instrumental in establishing Vanguard’s first satellite operations in Phoenix. After leaving Vanguard, he served as Chief Administrative Officer of Bradford & Marzec, Inc., a Los Angeles institutional fixed income management firm that grew from $3.5 billion in assets under management to over $6 billion during his tenure. Dave returned to Arizona in 1999 and joined Greenberg Financial Group, a Tucson investment advisor and broker-dealer, as a principal and compliance officer.
In October 2002, he established Gordian Advisors with the goal of working more interactively and educating clients while guiding them through financial issues. Comprehensive financial planning is the perfect fit for Dave’s diverse background as well as his deep commitment to offering an alternative to traditional financial advice.
After earning his BA in Economics, magna cum laude, from Washington & Lee University, Dave earned his Master’s degree in Business Administration from Harvard University’s Graduate School of Business. Dave is a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ professional - a designation which requires completion of an extensive education program, a comprehensive examination, relevant work experience, continuing education and commitment to the CFP Board’s ethical standards. Dave has served as an adjunct professor in the Personal and Family Financial Planning program at the University of Arizona. Dave is active in a number of service organizations, including Friends of Saguaro National Park.
joined Gordian Advisors in 2013. He earned a BBA degree from the University of Michigan in 2002 and then lived in New York City for six years holding several Wall Street jobs in investment banking and equity research. His formative experience during this period was in the Equity Strategy group at the institutional research firm Sanford Bernstein, where he learned about the markets and advanced data analysis. Yet despite all the intelligence and hard work that went into them, it was hard to see the research reports as productive contribution to the real world.
After growing disillusioned with Wall Street and the hectic pace of life in New York, Denis returned to work with his college employer and mentor in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Here he spent four years as a financial advisor with an independent office of Raymond James and earned a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER ™ designation which requires completion of an extensive education program, a comprehensive examination, relevant work experience, continuing education and commitment to the CFP Board’s ethical standards. Denis recognized the value of real financial planning and putting clients’ interests above all else. Still, though, there was the constant quest for "better" investment solutions helped along by mutual fund wholesalers and complicated investment products that rarely worked out well (private equity, non-traded REITs, structured notes, etc.).
Moving to Arizona for family reasons, Denis spent 18 months as a day trader (technically a proprietary trader with a professional firm). He devised a number of sophisticated trading strategies, such as pairs trading and regression-based long/short ETF baskets (there might have been some ill-advised chasing of wild momentum stocks too). It was a fun challenge and an excellent education about an entirely different side of the investment world, but at the end of the day it simply wasn't a good way to make a living. Also, seeing a simple target date fund in Denis’ IRA do laps around his hard-fought trading profits was quite an eye-opener.
When Denis returned to financial planning, he distilled all of his experiences in diverse corners of the industry into a straightforward investment philosophy - don't get fancy and focus on the things you can control (hint: the market is not one of them). Dave Hamra and Gordian Advisors turned out to be a perfect match for that realization. An avid student of the markets, Denis still enjoys applying his research skills to analyzing current investment trends, such as smart beta, tactical strategies and liquid alternatives. Most of the time, he fails to find any compelling reasons to use complicated strategies in client portfolios.
Denis grew up in Sochi, Russia (site of the 2014 Winter Olympics) and moved to the United States in 1997. He followed his wife Katie to her native Tucson in 2011 and plans to make it their long-term home. Outside of the financial markets, Denis’ interests include yoga, hiking, racquetball and spending time with his young kids Brady and Finley.
Michael A. Burdick
spent the first 32 years of his career in various marketing, sales, and product development positions for Caterpillar Inc. and subsidiary companies in the U.S. and Asia. In planning for his own retirement, Mike became intrigued by financial planning and plotted his encore career. After leaving Caterpillar he “decompressed” for a year and worked with Bike Friday, a custom bicycle maker in Eugene, OR.
After permanently relocating to Tucson in 2000, Mike joined Raskob Kambourian Financial Advisors and discovered his passion for personal financial planning. He joined Gordian Advisors as a partner in 2010 to create long-term continuity for clients while he transitioned to retirement once again. His elevation to “emeritus” status began in earnest in 2014 and Mike is enjoying more time to hike, cycle and travel extensively. While Mike no longer works directly with clients, he is still involved with the firm's strategic decisions and provides a valuable perspective on business direction.
Mike holds a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from Purdue University and a Master's degree in Business Administration from Case Western Reserve University.
The Gordian Knot
Gordian Advisors draws its name, and inspiration, from the Gordian knot of Greek legend. The god Zeus had decreed that when it came time for the people of ancient Phrygia to select a king, the next man to enter the city driving an ox cart should become their king. The peasant Gordius innocently fulfilled the decree, was made king, and ruled very successfully. In his gratitude Gordius dedicated his wagon to Zeus by tying it to a pole near the temple with an intricate knot.
Another oracle declared that anyone who succeeded in untying the knot would become the ruler of all Asia. The knot stayed firmly tied, confounding all attempts to loosen it, until the arrival of Alexander the Great.
Even Alexander’s conventional attempts to untie the knot were unsuccessful, until he cut the knot open with his sword. Zeus honored the warrior's initiative by making the prophecy come true, and Alexander conquered all of Asia and more.
The “Gordian Knot” has come to represent a difficult and intractable problem, while Alexander’s simple solution focused on the outcome rather than the obstacle itself. Likewise, Gordian Advisors is committed to cutting through the noise and complexity of today’s investment environment and focusing on straightforward techniques to help clients reach their goals.