Celebrating 10 Years

Celebrating 10 Years

From time to time, I put myself in challenging situations. Financial services are the third least trustworthy industry in the United States. Only marketing and oil industries rank lower.

Ten years ago, between September and October 2008 during the Great Recession, I decided to start my own financial planning and investment management firm. It was a necessary move because after two years of working in the brokerage industry, I saw how they put their interests above the clients. They would sell restrictive, complex products; recommend investments that they could earn two layers of fees without disclosing it to the client; push one product over another because of revenue sharing; emphasis on meeting quotas.

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As a financial advisor my mission then and now is to have an unyielding commitment to my clients and give them confidence that, with my help, they will meet their financial goals.

When I was putting together a business plan I found that less than 10% of advisors in the US legally have to put the clients interest first at all times and across all of their accounts. I wanted to be part of the group that puts the clients interests first and focuses on providing goals-based financial planning to clients. So, I decided to establish an independent, fee-only registered investment advisor firm.

Since I started my practice at one of the worst possible times to be invested in the stock market, the first six months of business were very difficult. Stock markets and economies all over the world were breaking down causing panic and losses of wealth not seen since the Great Depression. At that time, I lived in Florida where the housing market was one of the hardest hit. Companies were laying off employees in the thousands and more people were moving out of Florida than moving in. There were times when I would be out driving and there was an eerie quietness because few others were out. Instead, people were hunkered down at home trying to figure out what they were going to do for work or how they were going to keep the house out of foreclosure.

Being an advisor in the fall of 2008 reinforced what people really need and want from an advisor.

1. Trustworthy

  • In it for the long haul and not short term gain

  • Put clients interest first

  • Genuine interest in the client

  • Do what they say they will do

  • Has passion for financial planning

  • Continuously improves knowledge and services

2. Honesty

  • Discloses fees upfront

  • Discloses any conflicts upfront

  • Financial philosophy based on knowledge and never compromised

3. Financial Planning

  • Having a plan helps you achieve your goals, needs and future aspirations

  • Focus on what you can control

  • Being prepared helps lessen the affects of challenges that arise

  • Have realistic expectations and understand that markets go up and down

  • Proactively plan to take advantage of opportunities

  • Greater chance to have flexibility to do what you want when you want

  • Figure out if you have saved enough to make your money last

  • Your CPA, attorney, and financial planner need to work together towards your goals

Looking back, I appreciate the uniqueness of that period and how much knowledge I gained. This couldn’t have been taught in a classroom with hypothetical situations or a “gaming” exercise. I saw some markets go down more than 50% in 2008 and then go up over 70% the next year. I had those tough conversations with clients but also helped them realize there will be opportunities ahead. I am a better financial planner and advisor to my clients because of the Great Recession in 2008.

Factor Investing

Factor Investing

Core Values of a Good Financial Advisor

Core Values of a Good Financial Advisor