Friday, December 9th, 2022

Shopper Client Stories


by Candance Moore

Chesapeake’s First Citizen of 2019, Robin Tull

Chesapeake’s First Citizen of 2019, Robin Tull

On September 19th, the Chesapeake Rotary Club will present its annual Citizen of the Year Award to another worthy recipient. The name on the plaque says Robert W. Tull, Jr., but according to Robert, the honor goes the many family and friends who made him the man he is today. Robert, who prefers to go by Robin (the nickname given to him by his parents) is quick to tell others' stories when asked about his own.

"I was surprised when they chose me for this award," he says frankly. "Me? I have simply given back what I could and try to honor my family, who have always supported me. I didn't realize they gave awards for that."

In a conference room at the central office of Tull Financial Group's, he opens up about his early life as the son of a Presbyterian minister. It soon becomes apparent that it is impossible to understand his success in business and serving the community of Chesapeake without seeing the faith that drives and sustains him.

"We moved around a lot in my childhood," Robin recalls. "I once asked my father, as we prepared for yet another move, why we were leaving.  He said God needed us elsewhere, and that was that. We went where we were needed, and we got by on the money provided. My father never became wealthy from this, yet we seemed to always have enough. I learned in those days that God takes care of us when we're obedient."

When it came time to apply for college, an uncle wanted to help the family by paying for Robin's college education. The uncle was an astute investor in stocks growing a college fund.  Each year, Robin was required to sign his tax return where the stocks were listed. As he poured over the return, he wrote down the names of each stock learning the rhythm of investment management. 

It didn't occur to him that money and faith could not work together. Instead of choosing between the two worlds, Robin began a ministry-like endeavor to unite them. He envisioned a career of helping people make better choices with their money. At that time, wealth management was nearly unheard of as a career path- but Robin believed that God would prepare the way.

He decided to study business and finance at Oral Roberts University. There he met Cathy, his wife and best friend. Cathy shared his passion for giving to others, and they soon developed a lifestyle of generosity even during times of limited funds.

Robin Tull (seated) and his wife, Cathy (standing to his right), surrounded by their family.

Robin Tull (seated) and his wife, Cathy (standing to his right), surrounded by their family.

"It has to start somewhere," he notes. "Generosity doesn't happen by accident, not even when we acquire more wealth. Generous people give in all seasons of life. It may not be easy at first, but if we're diligent, we find that we are always able to give to others."

While attending graduate school in Texas, Robin reached out to a former bank customer where he had been employed.  That individual was an executive at CBN where a new ministry had begun in financial planning.  Robin, who exemplified a faithful example of teaching responsible wealth was a perfect ambassador for the new initiative.  They moved to Hampton Roads in 1985. Over the years, their family grew to four children, Andrew, Courtnay, Philip, and Victoria.

Although he enjoyed his time at CBN, it didn't take long for Robin's entrepreneurial drive to broaden his horizons. Wealth management was starting to catch on as a real profession with certifications. Robin was on the ground floor of this movement. He served on the Institute of Certified Financial Planners' national board of directors, which led to major national newspapers seeking his expertise as the profession grew. Little did they know that much of Robin's wisdom was derived from his humble Christian values.

"Generosity doesn't happen by accident,
not even when we acquire more wealth. Generous people give
in all seasons of life. "

- Robin Tull

"Managing money is the visible part of my field, but it isn't all I do,"  he explains.  "I look at a family working long hours- sometimes at two jobs- to accumulate enough for a comfortable retirement. I often ask clients to paint me a picture of what retirement looks like and I want to see them make it there.

After working in private wealth management for a time, Robin started his own firm, Tull Financial Group, in Chesapeake. He also decided to join Rotary.

"My father received a commemorative gavel for his service as Rotary President back home," Robin recalls. "It had always been an important part of life for us. Once I'd settled into a stable career, I knew it was time for me to do my part."

In the early days, he had a modest plan: show up and make himself useful. He participated in the club's various programs such as Coats For Kids, Paint Your Heart Out, and their annual spaghetti dinner. Never afraid to roll up his sleeves to get the job done, Robin earned a reputation that soon went before him. Rotarians began asking for his help on specific endeavors because they knew he would see a project through.

"A Rotarian friend, Jesse Williams approached with a request to join the hospital foundation for Chesapeake Regional," he shares. "So I served on that board with many other great people who had a real love for the hospital. I was just trying to be as helpful as I could. What followed was being honored by City Council placing me on the hospital authority board. I've worked hard to be deserving of that position."

He casually mentions a seemingly endless list of pursuits to help others. Cathy, an educator, helps at-risk children in the public school system. Together they have helped financially strapped young adults with plane tickets to attend a preview college weekend and for one young man from Tanzania, full tuition to college. Widows, vulnerable to scam artists, find in Robin an advisor who rigorously protects their nest eggs. Ever humble, he credits his wife for nurturing within him a generous and caring spirit.

"Cathy challenges me to give more and more," Robin reveals with a smile. "Nothing is impossible for her. When I accept this award from the Rotary Club of Chesapeake, I'll be accepting it partly on her behalf."

First Citizen Banquet

Thursday, September 19, 2019 at 7 pm

Chesapeake Conference Center

Chesapeake Rotary - First Citizen