117 E Elm Street
"So how long has your firm been in business?” Rick and I were sitting across from a couple in a restaurant in West Virginia. It was our first appointment. The question was certainly a legitimate one but it was unexpected so I had to stop and think. With twenty six years in the financial services industry, I mentally reviewed my business history.
In 1987, at age 35, after seventeen years as an equipment operator and manager, I was left to close the construction business that my father had started in the late 60s. At the same time, my wife Shannon and I were praying about what direction God wanted me to pursue. After much prayer, research, and soul searching we decided financial services was the correct path.
I began to interview several different financial services companies. I had several opportunities but chose the company that I felt had the most options and flexibility to fit my own entrepreneurial leanings. I had been managing a small business for many years and fully intended to continue that in this new field. Starting over was a new challenge and I was a good student. I took classes, studied hard, and passed tests to acquire my first securities license, as well my Property & Casualty, and full Insurance licenses.
One challenge I had to overcome early in my career was the expectation by management that I was a sales person first. I didn’t mind presenting products to potential clients that would help meet their needs or solve specific problems. But I never really fit into the company’s sales person model. I wasn’t motivated by contests, slick sales techniques, or other typical methods employed by large financial services firms. I had to work extra hard to maintain integrity in my business model while being a strong producer for the company that employed me.
This was an ongoing challenge in every position I was called upon to fill. During my seventeen years as an employee, I performed many functions for the company including Registered Rep, Sales Manager (twice), National Lead Trainer for a new P&C division in Arizona and Texas, and finally Agency Trainer for NW Ohio. Then, through a series of circumstances, I became very aware that a change was needed. As usual Shannon and I spent time in prayer, seeking advice, and researching options. It became clear that a transition from the company to an independent role was needed. Nine months later, I started my own firm. The date was October 3, 2003. This was exactly 10 years to the day when the gentleman asked me the question in the restaurant in West Virginia!
The firm was started when I was almost 51with zero clients. It is a real tribute to God’s leading and His faithfulness that such a thing could be done. After 10 years of hard work building the business, we have nearly 200 clients. That is GOD! I believe that no matter what stage of life you are in, it is more than OK to follow God’s leading in an effort of trust and obedience. He does not disappoint!
Along the journey there are many times, each with their own story, that God brought key people into our lives to help us continue, and not to lose heart. We did not do this alone. Many of you clients, unbeknownst to you, came into our fold at critical times. Beyond that you have prayed for and encouraged us over the years. Our office staff, Shannon, Kathi, and Lynda, have been God’s special helpers. My close associate, Rick McDaniel, has been a dear friend, comrade in the trenches, and totally trustworthy since we started working together over 7 years ago with just a handshake. Our former OSJs, Jim Kraatz and Stacy Calder from Michigan, literally kept us from quitting in the early years. And there are others. We are blessed and very thankful!
We love what we do and the clients that we serve. It is our hope that this will provide you a feeling of stability with our firm. We are not going anywhere, anytime soon. You simply don’t start over at age 50 if you’re planning to ‘roll up the sidewalk’ and retire soon after. It is my plan to keep working beyond ‘traditional’ retirement age – not because I’m a glutton for punishment (as some would say!) but because we are ideally positioned for ministry and productive service.
Perhaps it is in reaction to the heavy sales techniques and ‘forced’ relationships in my past, but I find myself committed to only working with those who want to work with us. I firmly believe that the client/adviser relationship should be mutually beneficial. Because of that belief, here is how we do business:
· We create an environment where there’s no pressure.
· We allow prospects to ‘self-screen’ – meaning that, especially in the early stages of a relationship, we rely on their initiative to move the relationship along. If you really don’t want to return our call or disclose basic information, we understand that you probably aren’t ready to move forward. We may gently remind you and do what we need to do to be sure we haven’t ‘dropped the ball’, but we are committed to not forcing a relationship.
· We start by having a discussion – either face-to-face or over the phone. It is our goal to listen to your concerns and questions and gather adequate information to be able to help. There is no cost for this initial consultation.
· We help people (which is what I love about financial services) without making them a ‘prize’ to be won. If we can help, we will. If we are not a good fit for whatever reason, we allow folks to move on without guilt or pressure.
· We take every opportunity to encourage and, if appropriate, pray for and with all who “meet” with us, whether in person or on the phone.
We have made Biblically Responsible Investing a central focus of our business model in the past 10 years. Biblically Responsible Investing (BRI) is a means of investing your money in products and companies that align with your values. Simply put, we have the means to screen your current investments to see if they are supporting companies that voluntarily support abortion, pornography, and other areas antithetical to your values. The screen report we prepare lists your various investment holdings and gives you the ability to see how you are invested from a moral perspective. Most folks who call us for a free, no-obligation screening of their investments come away with a deeper understanding of how investing relates to stewardship.
As a way of celebrating our 10th anniversary, we are throwing a party of sorts -- the first 100 people who contact us & allow us to complete a free screening of their investments by March 31 will receive a $50 gift card. As part of the free screening, you can expect us to gather basic information, review your current investments (for financial suitability as well as moral value), and make general recommendations. For more on 'moral value', please read about Biblically Responsible Investing on our website.
We are celebrating 10 years of business because it is worth celebrating. God has used this business to show Himself to us. We believe He has used us to pass on His goodness. It is our desire to exalt Him for the next 10 years and more!
WHAT WE OFFER AT FAITH
In the previous section where I outlined how we do business, I expressed my reluctance to ‘force’ people to work with me. I see that as respectful and mutually beneficial. I also recognize that it inhibits my ability to communicate what I offer to clients and exactly what I can do to help. So if you’ll indulge me, I want to take some time in this issue to tell about the services I offer. (If it’s information and not ‘pressure’ then that’s ok, right!?)
I do business with clients in several different veins. As a licensed insurance agent, I do offer insurance products. My primary focus in the insurance area is annuities. I am also experienced in providing life insurance, long-term care insurance, and other insurance products as needed. I use annuities with clients to create income streams, provide investment opportunity with death benefit options and/or guarantees, and to provide the security of having investments backed by insurance companies.
I also focus on Professional Money Management with clients who have that need. Money management involves using a 3rd party professional to monitor investments and follow strategic formulas, based on the client’s risk tolerance and goals. There is a fee for money management, but it provides constant watch over your accounts through strategic analysis of the market. This is an Active style verses a Passive “buy and hold” style
Another area where I serve clients is with mutual funds. I don’t personally do trading or handle trades on a day-to-day basis (although I am able to assist with this through a management firm) but I have several clients who invest regularly in a variety of solid mutual funds. The passive “buy and hold style” is most often used here.
Having worked previously in every area of insurance, I believe that I offer a huge value-added component of being able to review your existing policies. It is quite normal for me to look over clients’ policies and coverage and suggest areas of needed change. I don’t take over their car, house, or medical insurance – it’s not my niche anymore – but I can help them see areas of need. I am also very careful to help folks choose the right kind of ownership and beneficiary designations for their investments. After nearly 30 years of experience, I can quickly spot errors and omissions that would prove disastrous to your heirs in the case of unexpected death.