Ever since I became an independent advisor, I have had a somewhat unique business model. I focus on the employees of companies or nonprofits, with a special emphasis on entities that offer defined benefit plans and companies with union members. That is not always a requirement, and I work with many companies that have 401(k)s or 403(b)s. My first point of contact is usually the human resources department at a company or, in some cases, union management. I work very closely with several unions in our area, and my wife and I are members of a union.
My goal is to receive the permission of a company’s management to hold on-site financial-education workshops for their employees. For some of the larger companies I work with, I hold a series of workshops over the course of a year, covering topics such as retirement planning, college planning, household budgeting and debt management, diversification within a 401(k), and other important areas.
The attendance at these workshops is usually strong, and, with the company’s blessing, I offer employees the chance to have a brief one-on-one conference with me if they would like. We talk broadly about what is going on in their lives financially. If it is appropriate, we will schedule a more in-depth follow-up meeting either at my office or in their home. It is important to include their spouse in that second conversation. We dig into their situation more deeply, and I describe the services I offer. Then we ascertain if there is a good fit. Everyone has their own unique financial circumstances, and I position my services as being highly personalized, with the ability to address a full range of financial-planning issues.
This has been a successful approach to building my practice and establishing long-term relationships. I work with people of all ages, though most are reaching the point in their lives where they are seriously thinking about retirement. One of the benefits of working with employees who have a defined benefit plan is that they are usually on a good trajectory toward funding their retirement-planning needs. Between Social Security and their pension, or two pensions in the case of dual earners, they likely have a very solid foundation for retirement. I wish it were not so, but employees who depend on a 401(k) do not always contribute what they should to the plan or often make poor investment decisions during their work lives. This is not an insurmountable issue, but it can present a planning challenge.
Disclosure: Securities offered through Cambridge Investment Research, Inc., a broker-dealer, member FINRA/SIPC . Investment advisory services offered through Cambridge Investment Research Advisors, Inc., a registered investment advisor. Humphrey Financial LLC and Cambridge are not affiliated.
Photography by Marla Klein