Member Spotlight: 

Howard Savage, PhD


Howard Savage, PhD worked his way up within the U.S. Department of Commerce as an Economist and in the private sector developing a 35 years + expertise in home mortgages, securities and finance. The key to his success?  Never stop learning! Through the years Howard has achieved and earned his Series 7 and Series 26 Securities licenses. Also, he gained licenses in Real Estate and Insurance Sales. Howard has also been an Investment Advisor and Certified Financial Planner. We recently sat down with Howard, a longstanding TALI member and College Professor, to gain some of his insights.

TTI: What makes a PI a great investigator?
I think a great investigator is one who follows the evidence without bias, without preconceived notions and keeping an open mind - remaining open to changing your perspective as your case develops.

TTI: What's your biggest advice to new investigators?
Start with cases in areas you have the most experience, and expand from there. As you learn more, and gain more experience stretch your expertise in other investigative sectors. This was profound advice given to me when I started as a PI.

TTI: How has the industry changed since you started?
The trend toward certification as an expert in a specialty in many areas of investigation seems to me to be an illusion. I think education is important, but classes are less than half as important as actual experience in the field.  I do not look to someone with a certificate as an expert, but someone with experience.

TTI: How did you navigate the balance between work and family?
I am sorry to say I have not balanced it as well as I would have liked. More times than not, I found myself working when I could have spent time with my family.

TTI: What were some of your greatest accomplishments?
I have been able to track down the owners of some largest real estate companies in the USA, and find the person in charge of their finances, much to the chagrin of some of them and their legal departments.  I investigated a person in a major city running a training program for causing urban unrest with high school students, who was a registered Communist, and once discovered, left the country in 3 days. I spent two years working in the Identification Division of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation.  I learned fingerprint analysis from the American Institute of Applied Science Certificate program (Sirchie Finger Print Labs, North Carolina).

TTI: Which part of your career has been most satisfying?  Do you have any regrets?
The most satisfying part of being a PI is when a case comes together, and you figure it out and find resolution. It goes without saying that many cases start with little information and misleading perceptions.  I don’t always leverage my network. We all have different talents and experiences and we can learn from each other.  I have the talent of being able to quickly figure out the financial situation of a company or person, but I have worked with other investigators that are able to figure out a crime scene much faster than me because of their experience level. We all need to recognize our limitations and use others as resources.

TTI: Tell me about how to run a successful investigative firm?  What's your advice on how to achieve success.
Most of the investigators in TALI are successful as investigators. How successful you are depends largely on one thing – marketing.  If you want to have more customers, you need training and experience in marketing, selling and advertising – getting your name out there. Many community colleges have courses in this skill. Those in TALI who have achieved success have had this training at some level. Some will tell you the secret is to have a great web site and post lots of content. I met a PI in Houston who is successful – he told me he spends $8,000 a month on his web site. There are cheaper ways to do this, but not if you have not tackled self-instruction, formalized training, or hired a web designer you are limiting your full potential.

TTI: Which personal skills have served you best in your career?
I mostly work on financial cases, but the skill I have used the most has been my understanding of how business works and how companies function on a day to day basis. Many managers do not have a good understanding of how their own company works, leading to misunderstandings and sometimes big mistakes on their part. Over the last 20 years, I have worked as a financial consultant for more than 500 companies.
Also, being a good listener – talk less, listen more - what is not said is often far more revealing than what is stated.

TTI: In your experience, what benefits can be gained by being a TALI member?
I think TALI offers great opportunities for continuing education and networking with other investigators. Sometimes I need other’s skills and input on cases I am working on.  Sometimes I am asked to assist other investigators on aspects of their investigations.  Subcontracting with other investigators works well for me and the other investigators as well.