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Striving for meaningful relationships and measurable impact

by Apr 28, 2021Advisor Interviews

Striving for meaningful relationships and measurable impact

by Apr 28, 2021Advisor Interviews

Benjamin Barbour • Reston, VA
Fountainhead Wealth Advisors • Kalos Capital Inc.
Read full biography below

Proactive Advisor Magazine: Ben, talk about the path you took in founding Fountainhead Wealth Advisors.

I think it was inevitable that once I entered the financial industry, I would found my own firm when the time was right. I have always been industrious and entrepreneurial, working many different types of jobs going all the way back to junior high, and I started a couple of companies after college.

I have an eclectic background in terms of work experience, but I think all of those experiences helped shape what I bring to running our firm and guiding clients. Before becoming a financial advisor, I met with hundreds of retail clients in their homes and business clients in their offices in different jobs that I held. That was a valuable experience in terms of learning how to draw people out on assessing the differences between what they think they may need versus what they really should have to meet their objectives.

After running a home improvement company after college, I decided to enter the tech and software industry in consultative sales. Over four years, I advised major organizations such as NASA, Honda, and large communications firms in developing workflows and implementing complex project-management solutions. That honed my tech skills and provided insights on how to shape a modern and sophisticated approach to financial and investment planning when I later moved into that field.

My grandfather, who was a financial planner and CPA, was a big influence in my life. I admired what he accomplished in helping to grow a firm all over Virginia. My interest in the financial markets was reinforced by intensive study of economics in college. When I was ready to leave the tech field, I had the opportunity to join an independent financial-planning firm in Virginia that focused on retirement-income planning. I appreciate the mentoring I received there and devoted myself to becoming as knowledgeable as possible about retirement planning in a relatively short time frame. I worked hard in providing well-constructed solutions for clients and expanding the capabilities of that firm.

In 2019, I left to found Fountainhead Wealth Advisors with my wife Kristen. She is the operations manager for the firm. We added Fountainhead Fiduciary in 2020, creating a hybrid RIA model. We also have another arm to the firm, Fountainhead Insurance Agency.

Benjamin and Kristen Barbour

How do you articulate the mission of Fountainhead?

My goal in starting the firm was to provide the highest level of service, capabilities, and forward-looking thinking in guiding clients. I believe in making sure that the services we provide to clients are well matched with how we are being compensated. That works in the interest of both clients and our firm, and it is one of the reasons we have created the structure that we have.

I strive to make sure our firm is innovative, independent, and objective in developing solutions for clients. My background in project management and software is an advantage, I believe, as we build out our own tech platforms and customize many third-party solutions in ways that work best for our clients. Another of our goals is having the capability to provide boutique access to alternative investments and to utilize third-party investment managers who have a risk-managed investment philosophy that is highly compatible with our own. Our mission is to provide our clients with an integrated, synergistic approach to wealth management, recognizing that modern wealth management should be far more than just the traditional approaches to investments or other financial instruments.

We think the principles of modern portfolio theory are outdated and ineffective for today’s investment environment. Similarly, the time-honored approach of showing clients colorful pie charts representing the simple diversification of asset classes does not have a place in our investment approach.

“I strive to make sure our firm is innovative, independent, and objective in developing solutions for clients.”

We believe in applying macro-economic, fundamental analysis and sophisticated quantitative models in helping to shape portfolio allocations. We believe in having portfolios that are responsive to changes in the investment environment, and we execute this primarily through a blend of active, tactical strategies that possess inherent risk-management features. These are rules-based and mathematical strategies in nature and can adjust market exposure to current risk conditions while seeking out the best-performing sectors at any given time.

We embrace a financial-planning process that exists at the intersection of finance, tax, and estate. The Fountainhead model goes beyond making referrals to experts and brings them into the conversation at the beginning of our engagements. Our integrated planning process is designed to organize, simplify, and optimize all the crucial pieces of a client’s financial life—taxes, business, investments, real estate, insurance, retirement, estate planning, and philanthropy.

People often ask me if the name of our firm is related to the famous book. While I found the book compelling, it really was not the inspiration for our firm’s name. The definition of “fountainhead” is “a principle source or origin.” I thought that fit well with our goal of redefining wealth management and representing the primary resource for helping to guide clients in their financial journey.

Describe the planning services your firm offers.

We take a holistic approach for each client by establishing a baseline understanding of their finances and aspirations and then leverage our years of experience, sophisticated technologies, and advanced planning strategies to design a custom plan for each client.

We are ultimately trying to get to a place where we’ve checked off all of the quantitative and discovery boxes so that we can intelligently ask clients, “What is it you really want to do?” Understanding that in simple, human terms allows us to work as a team together to move from a reactive state to a proactive state in building out a financial plan.

We speak to clients about four broad and easy-to-understand conceptual areas in the planning process: growing, protecting, giving, and living.

Growing refers to helping clients build wealth over their specific time frame and in accordance with their risk profile. This includes portfolio design, investment manager due diligence and monitoring, an objective fee-based investment approach using third-party specialist managers, and strategic and tactical diversified asset allocation using both active and passive solutions.

Our overall investment philosophy is return-focused within specific risk parameters for each client. Tax mitigation is also an important objective. We also have specific, deep knowledge and capabilities in alternative and private investments, 1031 exchanges, opportunity zone funds, and other alternative investment approaches and will introduce those to clients as appropriate.

Benjamin Barbour and his daughters, Ella (left) and Ava (right)

Protecting is all about helping clients have effective risk management across many areas of their financial lives. This might include asset-protection consulting; eldercare planning; and insurance consulting across needs such as life and disability insurance, employee benefits, and long-term-care insurance.

Giving encompasses a range of planning issues under the broad umbrella of effectively providing for the future of people or charities that are most important to our clients. These areas may cover estate and legacy planning, family wealth counseling, special needs planning, and charitable planning.

Living refers to developing a well-constructed and comprehensive approach to effectively managing a client’s budgeting, cash flow, and tax strategies; funding key priorities; and planning for future income needs. Our services include planning for educational funding, executive compensation, and retirement income.

What points of differentiation would you like your firm to be known for?

From a functional perspective, I think that clients particularly appreciate our approach to investment management, offering customized portfolio design and implementation and access to sophisticated strategies and asset classes. We also take great pride in our robust financial-planning process, deep experience in retirement-income planning, ease of client access to their integrated financial data, and what we consider to be state-of-the-art legacy planning.

From an attitudinal perspective, we would like to be known for our innovation, passionate devotion to serving each client’s specific needs, and our ability to help empower and educate clients. We take great pride in acting as the lead resource for all of a client’s financial-planning needs and coordinating closely with other trusted advisors. At the end of the day, we evaluate our performance for clients in three ways: the development of meaningful relationships, making a meaningful contribution for each client, and delivering a measurable impact.

Infusing values into every client interaction

Benjamin (Ben) Barbour is co-founder and lead financial advisor at Fountainhead Wealth Advisors, located in Reston, Virginia.

Mr. Barbour says his firm is dedicated to an integrated financial planning and implementation process that is “designed to organize, simplify, and optimize all the crucial pieces of a client’s financial life—taxes, business, investments, real estate, insurance, retirement, estate planning, and philanthropy. The Fountainhead model goes beyond making referrals to experts and brings them into the conversation at the beginning of our engagements.”

Mr. Barbour says that the firm’s values, listed below, are infused into every interaction with clients:

  • Move at the speed of trust: We serve our clients by first educating and empowering them to make informed decisions. We understand that this takes time, which is why we will never rush or pressure you.
  • Strive for greatness: We measure greatness in terms of meaningful relationships, meaningful contribution, and measurable impact.
  • Seek solutions, always: Our clients think of us as a consultant and loyal friend they can turn to when they need help. We are committed to providing unbiased advice to achieve your desired outcomes.”
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Benjamin (Ben) Barbour is co-founder and lead financial advisor at Fountainhead Wealth Advisors, located in Reston, Virginia. Mr. Barbour says his firm is dedicated to an integrated financial planning and implementation process that “exists at the intersection of finance, tax, and estate.”

Mr. Barbour was raised in northern Virginia, where he attended both public and private schools. He says his parents provided a strong and supportive family life. While an avid athlete, he says that he also “worked to make some spending money and save for college.” He says attending the Blue Ridge School his senior year was a meaningful experience in which he “focused on academics, learned from a diverse roster of teachers, and enjoyed many outdoor activities.”

Mr. Barbour graduated from George Mason University with a degree in economics. Before entering financial services, Mr. Barbour worked in software consulting, advising organizations such as NASA and Honda in developing workflows and implementing complex project-management solutions. He says this part of his background has helped him develop a unique approach to the financial-planning process.

Mr. Barbour started his financial career in 2011 with a Virginia-based retirement-planning firm, adding increasing responsibility on the way to becoming executive vice president. He founded Fountainhead Wealth Advisors in 2019, which employs a hybrid model in conjunction with Fountainhead Fiduciary.

Mr. Barbour, his wife, two young daughters, and two dogs like to get away on weekends and vacations to their property on the Chesapeake Bay. He says he loves spending time with his family, especially at the beach, and many outdoor activities. He enjoys landscaping, gardening, hiking, and biking with his family.

Disclosure: Securities offered through Kalos Capital Inc., member FINRA & SIPC. Located at 11525 Park Woods Circle, Suite 280, Alpharetta GA, 30005. Telephone 678-356-1100. Investment advisory services offered through Fountainhead Fiduciary LLC. Insurance products and services offered through Fountainhead Insurance Agency LLC. Fountainhead Fiduciary LLC and Fountainhead Insurance Agency LLC are not affiliated with Kalos Capital Inc.

Photography by Waters Photography


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