Active investment management’s weekly magazine for fee-based advisors

Steven M. White • Farmington Hills, MI
Steven M. White Financial, LLC • Innovation Partners, LLC

I think our model is somewhat unique, as our firm has a dual focus on individual clients and the needs of business owners and their employees. Our experience is strong in both areas, and I have worked for many years in the areas of employee benefits, retirement plans, deferred compensation plans, insurance, retirement planning, and financial and wealth management.

During the early part of my career, I worked extensively with business owners. I would begin a relationship with a company by offering a no-obligation review of their employee benefits programs, including their retirement plans. This often led to recommendations for improvements in those areas, working on buy-sell insurance agreements, and introducing other types of insurance protection. I have had experience in the areas of health-insurance plans, 401(k) plans, profit-sharing plans, cash-balance plans, defined-benefit plans, 412(i) plans, and SIMPLE IRA plans.

As our firm develops a deeper relationship with a business owner, we might expand that relationship, if they wish, to examine their personal financial planning, insurance and protection needs, retirement-income planning, and overall investment needs. This can become a holistic financial-planning relationship. Quite often, they recommend that I sit down with some of the company’s key employees. I might also be approached by employees after a benefits meeting, and they may ask for a personal consultation on their financial situation and their investments.

Our focus on business owners also pays dividends in other ways. Several of my individual clients over the years have had a friend, relative, or associate who is a business owner or who knows a business owner. Understanding how my practice works, they have often been able to provide a direct referral to our firm. We also have a strong network of professionals who we will call upon as appropriate for specific client needs, such as estate attorneys, CPAs, and property-casualty agents. This network can act as a two-way street for mutual referrals to business owners. Finally, I have always enjoyed giving back to our community through involvement with civic and youth organizations. While business is not the main thrust in these activities, invariably people will get to know what you do, and these informal contacts can at times help provide further introductions to business owners.

How to expand relationships with business owners:

  • Begin a relationship with business owners by offering a no-obligation review of their employee benefits programs.
  • Ask if you can offer their employees a personal consultation on their financial situation.
  • Develop a professional network that can act as a two-way street for mutual referrals to business owners.

Disclosure: Securities and investment advisory services are offered through Innovation Partners, LLC (IPLLC). Member of FINRA/SIPC. IPLLC is a registered investment advisory firm with the SEC under the Investment Advisor Act of 1940, and a registered broker-dealer. Steven M. White is a branch manager, registered representative, and investment advisor representative of Innovation Partners, LLC.

Photography by Tony Segielski

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