Results-oriented guidance adds value for individuals and businesses
Results-oriented guidance adds value for individuals and businesses
Proactive Advisor Magazine: Rebecca and Steve, please tell us about how you see your role in working with clients.
Rebecca Foster: I joined NFA Wealth Management in January of this year and have many years of experience working with both individual and business clients. Steve and I work as a team, although we both also have clients of our own.
I am focused on helping business owners and individuals fully understand the gaps in many areas of their financial planning. Client education, in my opinion, is critical. Business owners are focused on operational matters and making their businesses successful—and individuals or couples on their careers and families. I enjoy working with motivated people who realize that planning for the future is far too serious to handle on their own.
I believe a financial advisor should work as the financial quarterback for each client, engaging where appropriate other specialists such as CPAs, attorneys, and other advisors to fully develop and implement plans. I strive to develop a comprehensive approach to financial and estate planning and business strategy, addressing areas of concern, educating clients, and bringing all of their needs and aspirations into the planning process. The ultimate goal is to help clients accumulate, protect, and preserve their net worth—or the vitality and growth of their business.
For individual clients, we address areas such as retirement-income planning, protecting clients and their families from loss of income, insuring assets for retirement, or helping seniors with Social Security claiming or Medicare supplement plans and alternatives. Working with business owners, we provide guidance in many areas, including succession planning, business valuations, corporate retirement plans, insurance strategies, and employee and executive benefits planning. I greatly enjoy working with the owners of family businesses and have specialized training in that area.
For many of our business owners and top executive clients, we provide a specialized, concierge-level service that coordinates all of the professionals they have on their team to maximize efficiency and results. We take the time to create one master financial plan and then act as the team’s quarterback for oversight and implementation of the plan. Steve and I are part of a dedicated team at NFA that can work to streamline the installation, operation, and administration of benefit programs for businesses and financial institutions. This can include wealth-management services, defined contribution plans, Supplemental Executive Retirement Plans, bank-owned life insurance, group life insurance, disability plans, and many other services.
Steve Romano: I have a personal vision statement that is appropriate for all of our clients, especially those on the individual side who are most concerned with managing, growing, and protecting their assets and looking for guidance on retirement-income planning. My objective is to help the underserved investor, providing straightforward guidance and striving to protect our clients from irrational markets by using results-based investing. I want to serve people and the community in a values-oriented manner.
We employ a holistic approach to financial and estate planning, taking into account not only each client’s present position and mid- and long-range financial goals but also his or her life goals. Once we are confident that we fully understand a client’s worldview, we can develop practical, specific solutions and an easy-to-understand implementation plan.
Adding to Rebecca’s comments, I think we are very skilled in helping business owners integrate their business and personal financial lives. Their financial programs can often be fractured. People may have a business plan and a personal financial plan, but often they do not work together cohesively. Our programs can help bridge that gap, with a focus on tax efficiency. For the business owner, this can include business continuity and succession planning, cash-flow management, retirement planning, and other services.
Rebecca: The first stage with a new client relationship is really educating the client about our firm and how we work while also establishing a rapport. Our longer-term goal is to build a foundation of mutual trust for the relationship. We spend a good amount of time on discovery and are committed to fully understanding a client’s personality, preferences, and goals. Working over several meetings, the data we gather in the discovery process is used to develop a custom financial plan designed to help the client achieve their specific vision of financial success. Our guidance is informed by a client or client couple’s financial and life objectives, time horizon, available assets, potential income streams, legacy goals, and risk preferences.
We have a process framework we call the Synergy Circle that outlines critical areas in the planning process. It starts with our team approach to serving clients, backed by the full resources and specialists within our firm. The four main aspects of the circle include (1) planning for health care, disability, and long-term-care needs into the future; (2) building protection and risk management in terms of property and casualty insurance, life insurance, and income protection; (3) exploring wealth solutions for both the accumulation and distribution phases of life; and (4) coordinating with other advisors. The last point is especially important as we address legacy-planning objectives. Our goal is to provide clients with analytical and comprehensive planning based on specific goals and objectives, and then excellence in implementation.
Steve: Our firm takes pride in operating from a position of strength in the arena of wealth management. We have access to many investment resources within our firm and from our custodians and third-party resources. We work hard to be industry innovators and proactively seek new approaches to both financial planning and investment strategies. On a personal level, I think of myself as an investment coach and, in a sense, a behavioral psychologist. I believe that educating clients and helping them take emotion out of the investment process are very important tasks in the advisor-client relationship.
We always start with a questionnaire that drills down into managing client expectations. How have they perceived their experiences in both bull markets and bear markets? How did that line up with their expectations? We talk about ways we can enhance their investment planning, both experientially and from a performance standpoint—with everything always relating back to their goals. We also emphasize client education, introducing concepts such as longevity risk, the sequence of returns, dollar cost averaging, and the compounded mathematics of portfolio gains and losses.
We have the ability to use several third-party managers as part of our investment planning and implementation process. With access to many types of strategies, we can formulate investment plans and asset-allocation approaches to address the needs of clients all along the risk spectrum.
I have some clients who are most concerned with alpha generation—they have a long time frame and high risk tolerance. The majority of my clients do not fall in that camp. They are more likely to be risk averse and are more concerned with the preservation of capital than return on capital. While we have many options in these situations, we often use a strategic approach from one of our third-party managers that I will call a risk-aware strategy. While it seeks competitive returns, it is more focused on managing downside risk and generating those competitive returns throughout a full market cycle. The philosophy here is very different from “buy and hold” passive management. There are times when it is sound strategy to adjust exposure to the market, or to be out altogether.
The important point to emphasize is that we do not have one singular investment approach or philosophy. Clients’ investment plans are goals-based and customized to their objectives. In line with my mission statement, we are focused on results-based investing and risk management, using institutional-strength strategies on behalf of our clients. I think that is a truly added-value benefit of working with our team and our firm.
Five principles drive firm culture
Steve Romano and Rebecca Foster are financial advisors at NFA Wealth Management in Edmond, Oklahoma. They both cite a strong, supportive firm culture and values orientation as important factors in their decision to join NFA. NFA says its core beliefs for the firm, its people, and its client relationships are “powered by the Five F’s”:
Faith—“While religious Faith is a personal choice, you must have Faith that we will support you.”
Family—“We believe your Family must come first.”
Finance—“We believe your Finances have to be in order, therefore we operate from financial strength vs. financial weakness.”
Fitness—“Fitness is both physical and mental, and we believe you must be Fit to be engaged in our business.”
Fun—“You must also have Fun. If you are not having Fun, then why do it? Here at National Financial Alliance, we believe you must make life enjoyable.”
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Rebecca Foster, AIF, is a financial planner with NFA Wealth Management in Edmond, Oklahoma. She serves a diverse range of business and individual clients and says she “focuses on helping clients fully understand the gaps in their financial planning.”
Ms. Foster attended the University of Oklahoma before finishing her undergraduate degree at Louisiana State University–Shreveport. She majored in business administration and minored in accounting and economics.
Ms. Foster has been in the financial-services industry for 26 years, starting her career with Prudential. She joined NFA Wealth Management in January 2019. She says she is equally passionate about working with individual and business clients, providing consultative guidance and a wide range of products and services to each segment. She has earned the designation of Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) and is a member of the National Association of Insurance Financial Advisors (NAIFA).
Ms. Foster has two children and six grandchildren. She has been involved in many charitable and civic organizations and with her church. She has supported organizations involved with children’s health and has held officer positions with the local Kiwanis Club. She is president-elect of the local chapter of the Accounting & Financial Women’s Alliance and is a member of 2020 Women on Boards.
Steve Romano, CEP, AIF, is a financial advisor with NFA Wealth Management, located in Edmond, Oklahoma. Mr. Romano specializes in offering financial, retirement, and estate planning, as well as investment management. He says he brings a “holistic approach” to his financial guidance, taking into account not only each client’s present position and long-range financial goals but also his or her life goals.
Mr. Romano began his business career in the food-distribution industry, where he worked for several years. His experience in the financial-services industry spans more than two decades, beginning with a Citigroup affiliate in Oklahoma City in 1988. He was a regional vice president for Primerica Financial Services before becoming an independent financial advisor in 2006. Mr. Romano has earned the Certified Estate Planner (CEP) and Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF) designations. He has also completed an executive education program at The Wharton School on advanced retirement strategies. Mr. Romano has received recognition from LPL Financial for outstanding client service and production.
Mr. Romano and his wife reside in Edmond, where they are actively involved in their church and community. They have four children and five grandchildren. Mr. Romano enjoys travel, kayaking, fitness, cross-country motorcycle riding, reading, ministry, and donating time to nonprofits. His volunteer ministry has included working with programs for prisons.
Disclosure: Securities offered through LPL Financial, member FINRA & SIPC. Investment advice offered through Strategic Financial Concepts, a registered investment advisor. Strategic Financial Concepts and NFA Wealth Management are separate entities from LPL Financial.
Photography by David McNeese