As a high school student evaluating potential colleges to attend, Christopher “Kip” Barton knew he wanted to “venture out,” and leave the Bay area where he grew up. So, going South to San Diego State University seemed like a good choice.
Kip arrived at SDSU in 1982 and after living in the dorm his freshman year decided he would participate in fraternity rush. “I didn’t know anything about the Greek system then but thought I might enjoy being in a fraternity,” he explained. “A few people had told me that ΣΑΕs were ‘rich and stuck up,’ but I met an ΣΑΕ who was a very nice guy and didn’t fit that image at all. By the time rush started, I had made up my mind that I wanted to be an ΣΑΕ. Two roommates and I rushed, and we all got a bid.”
An enthusiastic active, Kip lived in the Cal Theta house for two years and served as House Manager and Rush Chairman.“We had about 120 actives and pledges then; a great group of Brothers.There were some fun rivalries between the Northern California versus Southern California Bros.”
Early on, Kip realized that fraternity membership offered multiple benefits. “In addition to the social activities, you learn to get along with a diverse group of young men and to respect each other’s opinions, which helped me grow personally. Those were subjects you didn’t learn in the classroom. Plus, there were some great role models from whom I learned many things, such as the importance of taking school
Graduating in 1987 with a BS in Business Administration, Kip faced the same uncertainty that many of us shared—what career path to follow.“I really didn’t know what my niche would be,” he said.“I was trying to figure out what I wanted to do. I first worked in sales for Heublein, a wine and spirits distributor. While it was interesting and offered some good sales-related training, l knew this wouldn’t be my long-term career.”
Kip got his introduction to the life insurance profession—his future niche—when he joined MetLife as a sales representative. “I learned the hard way, by cold calling to make appointments. But it was also good training, and after a few years I was able to parlay that experience into more fulfilling positions.”
Kip continued to enhance his resume by working for former San Diego Charger Rolf Benirschke’s estate planning firm—where he helped produce marketing seminars and handled the firm’s life insurance-related business, and then as Director of Advanced Marketing for The Producers Group, a life insurance brokerage agency. “I ultimately reached the point where I’d been working for somebody else for 20 years and decided to open my own company.”
In 2013, Kip partnered with two colleagues and founded PH Robb Legacy Alliance, a “boutique” firm that specializes in estate and business succession planning for high net worth families. He works from his home office in Point Loma, and his partners are located in Los Angeles and Tucson. “Most of our clients are referrals from wealth management firms and estate planning advisors.” Kip stressed the upside and challenges that most entrepreneurs experience. “Of course, having your own company is rewarding, but it can be daunting as well. Each new year you ask ‘what can I do different to expand, to make it better?’ I’m satisfied with the evolution of my career, and I think the best years are ahead of me, and that is exciting.”
As a result of his life insurance/estate planning expertise and professionalism, Brother Barton has been asked to serve on Life Advisory Boards for Genworth,Allianz, and other companies.
As Kip’s career flourished, his schedule also became more flexible, enabling him to offer time and talent to various organizations, including the San Diego Area Alumni Association. "I always wanted to give back to ΣΑΕ but was just too busy to go to luncheons and other events. I finally made the time to go and saw a lot of Brothers from my undergrad days.” He increased his support by assisting with Association events, and more recently, becoming a Cal Theta Chapter Advisor, which required extensive study and passing an ΣΑΕ national test. “As Advisors, the five of us meet with chapter members to discuss and offer guidance on hazing and alcohol abuse, and other critical issues. It’s been a very positive experience. Just as we did as undergrads, the Brothers like to see the ‘old guys’ participate.”
Kip’s “free time” activity also includes Peloton spin cycling, a strenuous cardio-fitness regimen that involves riding a stationary spin bike while watching a monitor that streams live classes from a NewYork City studio.“It’s as if we were in a gym working out as a group,” he explained.“It is a great stress reliever and something I look forward to almost every day.”
He also enjoys playing golf, watching Aztec games, and traveling and sailing with his wife Karen and daughter Lauren, a Point Loma High School junior.
Kip is glad that he's able to balance a full calendar of work, family activity, and spending time with his ΣΑΕBrothers. “As undergrads, we benefited from having Dick Troncone and other alumni take the time to help us in various ways. It’s full circle now, as I’m able to return the favor and make my own contributions.”