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

Providing highly professional guidance to clients

by Nov 4, 2020Advisor Interviews

Providing highly professional guidance to clients

by Nov 4, 2020Advisor Interviews

Bill Raney, MS, CFP, BFA
GNB Investments • Cetera Advisor Networks LLC
Read full biography below

Proactive Advisor Magazine: Bill, what do you most enjoy about your role in the banking channel?

I started out in the business working for a national brokerage firm and have had opportunities to go fully independent. But I have always thought that working as a financial advisor within the banking environment, particularly in my situation with GNB Investments, has many benefits.

First, I have the opportunity to make a truly positive impact on people’s lives. The most satisfying part of my job is helping people become more educated. By doing so, I hope to help them alleviate any anxiety about their finances. My priority is helping clients to navigate their financial journey in a manner that is as stress-free as possible. Whether their goal is planning for retirement, seeking tax-advantaged investing, or simply gaining more independence in their financial lives, I focus on presenting a comprehensive planning process that suits their particular needs.

Second, I enjoy the team-oriented approach that exists in being a part of a larger banking organization. While I take great pride in building our business for GNB Investments, there is a two-way street with other departments and individuals within the bank. I have to be knowledgeable about the services they offer and vice versa. It is not just a transactional relationship between departments; we are looking to help clients fulfill their needs in many different areas.

Finally, it is great to have the larger resources of GNB Bank available on a referral basis. A good portion of our community is involved in agribusiness, as well as smaller, locally owned businesses. The bank has dedicated resources addressing the needs of those segments. We also have a robust capability in the trust area and in services such as lending, cash management, and employee retirement plans. These types of resources further reinforce the aspect of working as a part of a greater team effort.

Describe your approach to financial planning.

My goal is simple, but important. I put 100% of my focus on being a trusted and highly knowledgeable resource for clients as they address their financial goals over the long term. To this end, I decided many years ago to commit myself to continuing education and training, such that I can bring strong skills and a high level of professionalism to the financial-planning process.

I became a Certified Financial Planner professional and also earned a master’s degree in personal financial planning from the College for Financial Planning. I also earned the designation of Behavioral Financial Advisor and am an active member of the Financial Planning Association. In addition to the knowledge obtained in the study for each of these qualifications, I am always working to stay on top of the latest trends in the industry and often share information with several peers. My attitude is that if there is potentially a better way to do things for clients, whether in the planning process, new products, or different investment approaches, I am going to conduct my own thorough due diligence.

My planning process centers on the major principles outlined by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards: (1) defining a strong working relationship with prospective clients; (2) employing a discovery and goal-setting process; (3) analyzing a client’s financial situation and planning scenarios; (4) evaluating plan options with the client on a consultative basis; (5) formulating an implementation plan; and (6) periodically reviewing the plan, tracking progress, and revising where necessary.

I am a proponent of a goals-based approach to financial planning and find it valuable to use a tool from MoneyGuidePro called “The Retirement Lifestyle Workbook.” I provide this to clients before our first planning session to help them and their spouses define broad outlines for their future financial—and lifestyle—objectives. This is a user-friendly piece, defining goals in practical terms, such as planning for college education, purchasing a vacation home, charitable giving, or legacy wishes. It provides a starting point for understanding a client’s current financial situation and how they might envision their lifestyle in retirement. Additionally, it encourages clients to think about goals in terms of priorities, setting up the hierarchal categories of needs, wants, and wishes. When they have completed the workbook, we use that as a basis for a thorough goal-setting and financial discovery session.

I take a flexible approach with clients, trying to first understand their most pressing needs and assessing their potential commitment to a full financial-planning process. Sometimes a prospective client has a discrete financial issue and is not prepared to work through a financial plan right away. That is fine, but my goal will remain to have them go through that process in the future. As I explain to clients that we can work together to help them find effective ways to employ their assets, no matter what their goals, they usually become more open to the idea. More often, especially for clients facing or already in retirement, they fully embrace the idea of financial planning. In either case, my goal is to provide a professional resource that can help guide them on their financial journey.

How would you characterize your overall investment philosophy?

One important principle is to let the financial-planning process and clients’ goals drive their investment planning. I have no preconceived notion of what might be most suitable for any given client. I do subscribe to the philosophy that clients will tend to be more comfortable in retirement if their basic lifestyle needs can be covered to a large degree by a combination of guaranteed-income sources, whether a pension, Social Security, or a suitable annuity product.

A second point is that I think risk management should be paramount in investment planning. My first exposure to the financial industry came when I worked in sales management for Investor’s Daily, now IBD. That position provided a firsthand look at financial markets and an introduction to the brokerage community. The founder, William O’Neill, was a true student of the markets and author of several books. He believed strongly in several methods of risk management, advocating for strict rules on preventing large stock market losses and not staying fully invested in bear markets. That is a lesson that has always resonated with me.

I have lived through several significant market downturns. I understand how they can be a powerful force that can derail an investor’s resolve to stick with their investment plan. I also understand how the sequence of returns can devastate a retirement plan if portfolio risk management is not a top priority. For younger investors, market downturns will most likely be less of a negative factor when you consider the benefits of dollar-cost averaging over time. For relatively older investors, risk management takes on more critical importance. The worst case for any investor is when they let their emotions—whether fear or greed—take over. Fortunately, if you have done the job of investment planning properly as an advisor, and set realistic expectations for the long term, that is a relatively rare occurrence.

“I have the opportunity to make a truly positive impact on people’s lives.”

The challenge is to create an approach to the investment portfolio that will mitigate risk, smooth out volatility, and has a goal of keeping your clients on course. To this end, I have increasingly been using the resources of professional money-management firms that emphasize downside protection while seeking competitive returns in favorable market environments. They use rules-based approaches that can employ sophisticated algorithms and tools that can adjust to different market conditions. This can mean many things, including varying portfolio exposure, sector rotation, or using inverse or leveraged positions. I also believe in diversifying by type of investment manager and portfolio mix, so clients will typically not be 100% in any one approach. My role has evolved more to the oversight of investment managers. I embrace evolutionary investment thinking that has been honed over time and the constant pursuit for improvement. I think that serves clients well.

How would you like clients to perceive the experience of working with you?

I will help people in any way that I can, but when clients get to the retirement phase, I just want them to enjoy it. I want them to leave the worrying to me and get the most they possibly can out of their retirement. I hope they perceive me as someone who has made the planning process an efficient and collaborative process, free of jargon. I want to be known as someone who works hard to be the best he can at his craft, always placing a client’s best interests first.

Benefits of being a financial advisor in the banking channel

Bill Raney, MS, CFP, BFA, is a principal financial advisor for GNB Investments, a division of GNB Bank. GNB is a community-focused bank with multiple locations in Iowa. GNB Investments offers access to financial and retirement planning, professional asset management, life and long-term-care insurance, annuities, cash management, and other related services.

Mr. Raney started his career in sales and distribution management at Investor’s Business Daily and first became a financial professional with Prudential Securities. He since has worked for several national and regional banks as a financial advisor and planner. He says the banking channel offers unique benefits for a financial advisor, including the following:

  • The ability to conduct an independent practice within the umbrella of a larger banking organization. He currently works with clients from eight different branches of GNB Bank, allowing him to access a broad network of potential clients from all walks of life.
  • A team-oriented approach that offers “a two-way street with other departments and individuals within the bank.” This, he says, “is not just a transactional relationship between departments as we are looking to help clients fulfill their needs in many different areas.”
  • Access to the larger resources of GNB Bank on a referral basis. He says, “A good portion of our local community is involved in agribusiness, as well as smaller, locally owned businesses. The bank has dedicated resources and a strong understanding of the needs of those segments. We also have a robust capability in the trust area and services such as lending, cash management, and employee retirement plans. I believe these types of resources further reinforce the aspect of working as a part of a greater team effort on behalf of clients.”
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William (Bill) Raney, MS, CFP, BFA, is a principal financial advisor for GNB Investments, a division of GNB Bank. GNB is a community-focused bank with multiple locations in Iowa. GNB Investments offers financial and retirement planning, asset management, life and long-term-care insurance, annuities, cash management, and other services.

Mr. Raney says, “I was raised in a small town in Iowa. Both of my parents worked hard and created a great family environment. My father was a decorated veteran and became our town’s postmaster and a successful insurance agent. My mother was a tax preparer for many years. A fond memory was traveling together all over the U.S. by car.” He says he greatly enjoyed high school, from his studies to playing four sports and being a member of the school’s band and chorus.

Mr. Raney earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Northern Iowa, focusing on accounting, business, and education. He gained a firsthand look at financial markets while working in sales and distribution management for Investor’s Business Daily (IBD, then known as Investor’s Daily). After earning positions of increasing responsibility at IBD, Mr. Raney joined Prudential Securities, which he says had a strong training and mentorship program. Mr. Raney later moved into the banking channel, working for both national and regional banks. He has provided financial guidance for individuals and families for over 26 years.

Mr. Raney is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) professional and has earned a master’s degree in personal financial planning from the College for Financial Planning. He also has earned the designation of Behavioral Financial Advisor (BFA) and is a member of the Financial Planning Association.

Mr. Raney and his wife recently celebrated their 30th anniversary and have an adult son. Mr. Raney supports several charitable efforts organized by GNB, as well as other charities, including the local food bank, the American Cancer Society, and blood donor drives. In his spare time, he says he enjoys “spending time with the family; jogging (very slowly); golf; and playing with our puppy, Thor.”

Disclosure: 510 F Ave., Grundy Center, IA 50638. (319) 825-4688. Securities and advisory services offered through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA, SIPC, a broker-dealer and registered investment advisor. Cetera is under separate ownership from any other named entity.

Investments are: Not FDIC/NCUSIF insured; May lose value; Not financial institution guaranteed; Not a deposit; Not insured by any federal government agency. All investing involves risk, including the possible loss of principal. There is no assurance that any investment strategy will be successful. For a comprehensive review of your personal situation, always consult with a tax or legal advisor. Neither Cetera Advisor Networks LLC nor any of its representatives may give legal or tax advice. Dollar cost averaging will not guarantee a profit or protect you from loss, but may reduce your average cost per share in a fluctuating market. A diversified portfolio does not assure a profit or protect against a loss in a declining market.

Photography by The Farmer’s Daughter Photography


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