Advisor Spotlight: Eric Rodriguez, WealthBuilders
For this Advisor Spotlight, we welcome Eric Rodriguez, CFP® and the Founder of WealthBuilders, ...Advisor Spotlight: Eric Rodriguez, WealthBuilders For this Advisor Spotlight, we welcome Eric Rodriguez, CFP® and the Founder of WealthBuilders, LLC to chat about taking a more life-centered approach to financial planning. Non-paid client of Betterment. Views may not be representative, see more reviews at the App Store and Google Play Store. Advisor: Eric Rodriguez Firm: WealthBuilders, LLC Bio: Eric is a Certified Financial Planner® and the Founder of WealthBuilders, LLC, an independent, virtual RIA based out of San Diego, CA. Eric is the author of R.E.T.I.R.E. On Your Terms: 6 Steps To Build Wealth and Co-Host of The Avocado Toast Podcast. He started his career as a registered rep for a broker-dealer that was heavily focused on product sales. That firm left him with a bad impression of the financial industry, so he switched careers to strategic B2B sales where he thrived. About eight years later, Eric was introduced to real financial planning when he started working at LearnVest. He was inspired to launch his own firm, WealthBuilders LLC, in 2017. Firm Bio: WealthBuilders is an independent fee-only fiduciary wealth management firm. WealthBuilders specializes in working with progressive early to mid-career professionals and business owners who are passionate about aligning their wealth with their values. Why did you decide to become an advisor? My parents didn’t talk about money growing up. They argued about it. I wanted to change that for us. I wanted to normalize talking about money and building wealth, and I wanted to make it a positive experience. This is what inspired me to become a CFP®. What are some questions that you wish more clients would ask? How do you measure success with your clients? Why? What do you think is the biggest mistake people make with their money? Not having a customized wealth plan that aligns their key values with their money. Having a wealth plan that includes a vision for your ideal future, key values, the unexpected, and goals to achieve can have a profound impact on your financial success. What does your firm's current tech stack look like? How has technology impacted your work? I run a solo practice —having a solid tech stack is essential to running my business successfully, especially with back office responsibilities. Having a partner like Betterment helps me streamline client onboarding and ongoing investment support so I can focus on other aspects of my business. My firm's tech stack includes Betterment for Advisors as my custodian; G-Suite for all business functions; Asset-Map for initial client conversations; eMoney for complicated financial plans; Riskalyze for risk tolerance; Holistiplan for tax planning; AdvicePay for retainer client fees; Calendly for prospect/client bookings; Wealthbox as my CRM; Mailchimp for client communication and newsletters; Quickbooks for accounting; Canva for marketing and one page plan creation; Loom for custom client videos; and Adobe Acrobat for contract management and editing. How have the recent trends toward remote and hybrid work impacted your relationship with clients? I work with a lot of clients in tech and most have always been hybrid. Prior to the pandemic I was meeting with my clients virtually about 70% of the time. Now it's 100% virtual. It saves us both valuable time and money. What do you think is the biggest opportunity for advisors today? Automating their portfolio management and back office and focusing more time on truly helping clients align their resources with their life goals. Evidence shows that a more life-centered approach to financial planning can help clients make better decisions and improve financial wellbeing and life satisfaction. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money? I'd love to give my family and close friends enough money to fund some of their dreams. Give to non-profit organizations focused on closing the racial wealth gap and climate change. Take our immediate and extended family on a big annual trip and pay for everyone. Hire a full time helper like Jeffrey from the Fresh Prince of Bel Air! Invest the rest wisely. If you could only give one piece of financial advice, what would it be? Prioritize your immediate goals and take action. For example, if a down payment is at the top of your goal list, then open an investment account and aggressively start saving.
From $0 to $40MM AUM: Jason Hamilton on Improving Client Service with Technology
We sat down with Jason Hamilton to learn about his personal journey to becoming a financial ...From $0 to $40MM AUM: Jason Hamilton on Improving Client Service with Technology We sat down with Jason Hamilton to learn about his personal journey to becoming a financial advisor and launching his own practice—and how Betterment's technology has helped him build a $40 million firm. Non-paid client of Betterment. Views may not be representative, see more reviews at the App Store and Google Play Store. Advisor: Jason Hamilton Jason J. Hamilton, CFP®, CRPC® is a Certified Financial Planner™ and Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® who helps high-performance professionals and high-net-worth investors create alignment with their abundance so they can live in flow with their wealth and serve their purpose. After coaching clients on their finances for over a decade and over six years as a registered investment advisor, he knows what helps clients go from chaos to serenity with their finances. As a Certified Financial Planner™, he also brings the technical expertise, education, experience, and ethics requirements investors are looking for to help them achieve their goals, lower their taxes, and optimize their income and investment returns. Jason is the founder of Keep It Simple Financial Planning, a fee-only registered investment advisor, managing over $40 million in assets for his clients. He is also the Head of Family Financial Coaching at his family's nonprofit IDEAL, a community development corporation, located in East Los Angeles. Firm: Keep It Simple Financial Planning Keep It Simple Financial Planning (KISFP) was founded in 2016 to help underserved investors receive technical financial advice in a simple and understandable way. Read more about why we believe “Keep It Simple” is the best philosophy. Why did you decide to become a financial advisor? My story originates just before the 2008 financial crisis. Before this, my family owned a small business: An Italian restaurant in a suburb of San Jose. The restaurant's name was Mio Vicino which means "my neighbor." Prior to the financial crisis, my family hired an advisor to help them with their financial and retirement planning. Unfortunately, instead of comprehensive fiduciary financial advice, my family was sold a myriad of insurance products. I believe with better planning, we would have had a much better response and outcome to the economic situation. Before the end of the crisis, we were forced to close the restaurant due to insufficient financial resources. On the bright side of this journey, I saw what my family went through and became determined to not have the same fate for myself. This led me on my journey of financial self-discovery to learn everything I could about financial planning and wealth management. What started as a Google search for "how do people become wealthy?" became an obsession and now a career. Helping clients get into alignment with their wealth has been rewarding in many ways. For years prior to becoming an advisor, I would read online forums, where I found out about advanced financial planning education to become a CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™. At the time, I had no knowledge of the financial planning industry. Since my company offered education reimbursement, I decided to sign up for a course at UCLA extensions. This was the beginning of my journey to become a CFP®. I enjoyed the courses. They filled in the gaps from my prior reading and gave me structure to the process of proper financial planning. It was actually fun! In my search to change careers, I found a group called XY Planning Network that was providing the tools and education to help advisors launch their firms, and the rest is history. I hired coaches and consultants to help me start up and learn the business and the compliance aspects of running a registered investment advisor and, in 2016, I launched Keep It Simple Financial Planning. Over time, I have obtained the Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor® and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ designations. More recently, with the popularity of investing in cryptocurrencies and other digital assets, I completed my Certificate in Blockchain and Digital Assets and became a member of the Digital Assets Council of Financial Professionals. Today, we help clients with flat-fee financial planning advice in nearly 40 states and manage over $40 million in assets under management for our clients. Coming from a lower-middle-class family, we knew how to work but I was never taught HOW to build wealth outside of one day buying a home. Investing was not part of the culture of my family. We all knew how to work hard and sacrifice. But, one thing that I teach now that I didn’t get growing up is how to turn my labor into capital that will work for me. Books also had a significant impact on my journey. Dave Ramsey, Warren Buffet, Suze Orman, and Jack Bogle are a few of the authors from whom I absorbed great insight and knowledge. But the most impactful for me were two books by Thomas J. Stanley: The Millionaire Next Door and The Millionaire Mind. The Millionaire Next Door showed me the path for how to become a first generation millionaire (and that over 80% of millionaires are first generation!). And The Millionaire Mind showed me what it takes to achieve multimillionaire status. Reading these books changed my perspective significantly about what it takes to be successful financially. What is the least understood aspect of your job? The least understood aspect of my job is that many times there is more psychology than technical financial planning in what we do. We are dealing with humans and not machines. Within a number of hours I can tell a client exactly how to optimize their financial situation. The challenge is, what may be optimal financially may not be optimal emotionally. As advisors, the better we are at understanding humans, the more likely our advice is likely to be implemented. What does your firm's current tech stack look like? I am a self-admitted technology addict. While we don't use all of our tools with all clients, there are some great applications for advisors to use when appropriate. We use: Asset Map, RightCapital, Income Conductor, Income Laboratory, Holistiplan, Cash Flow Mapping, Kwanti, AdvicePay, and, of course, Betterment for Advisors. Why did you choose Betterment for Advisors? And how has our technology impacted your business? I have tried multiple custodians since starting my firm but the efficiency, beautiful client portal and app, and the support team I get with Betterment for Advisors is second to none. Because of the digital onboarding and easy digital account transfer process I have been able to scale much faster and serve a more financially diverse client base than I could with a traditional custodian. What is one critical lesson you have learned from your clients? One critical lesson I have learned from my clients is that if you help people get into alignment with their wealth, other parts of their lives will flourish as well. Finances are such an important aspect of living in the United States and, if you can get into flow with your financial wealth interactions, you will experience harmony in other areas of your life typically. How has a remote or hybrid work environment changed how your team works? Our firm has been primarily virtual since our founding over 6 years ago and, since the pandemic, it has tripled in size as many more investors have become comfortable with virtual meetings. In our case, the remote work environment has improved our ability to grow and serve clients. We were ready as more and more clients become comfortable with using virtual communication tools to stay connected to friends and family. Now, it has become the overwhelmingly preferred meeting method and has allowed us to help clients solve the specific challenges they face from nearly anywhere in the nation. What do you think is the biggest opportunity for advisors today? To put themselves out there on social media to discuss and share their expertise. I see so many advisors wasting time and money on paid lead gen services, which if you knew how they worked, are typically a huge waste of money. Maybe not waste but for sure not fully optimized. People in general are desperate for a great advisor that aligns with their personality type. I think if advisors would just put out one educational video per week in their niche, or even general good financial advice, they would never have to struggle for business. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money? Pay off mom's house and travel a lot. If you could only give one piece of financial advice, what would it be? That if your financial situation is not ideal, DO NOT blame or put any responsibility on anyone outside yourself. If you do not take 100% ownership of your situation you will never be successful. Literally anything you need to know about finances, you can find online in a blog or on YouTube. The challenge is people are typically their own worst enemy when it comes to finances. For this reason, hiring a trusted fiduciary advisor may be the best decision individuals make for themselves.
Advisor Spotlight: Katelyn Bombardiere, Commas
For this Advisor Spotlight, we welcome Katelyn Bombardiere, CFP®, a Financial Planner at ...Advisor Spotlight: Katelyn Bombardiere, Commas For this Advisor Spotlight, we welcome Katelyn Bombardiere, CFP®, a Financial Planner at Commas, to chat about her passion for helping the everyday investor. Non-paid client of Betterment. Views may not be representative, see more reviews at the App Store and Google Play Store. Advisor: Katelyn Bombardiere Firm: Commas Bio: Katelyn Bombardiere, CFP®, is a Financial Planner at Commas, a fee-only financial planning firm based in Cincinnati. Katelyn started her career in the high-net-worth wealth management industry where she quickly realized her passion for helping the "everyday" investor. She sought a different approach to help people (like her friends, family and peers) without worrying about asset minimums. Firm Bio: We all don't have millions of dollars—but we all have goals. Commas is a financial advisory that provides fee-only service to the EveryInvestor: those who might not fit the standards set by traditional high-net-worth advisories but still deserve personalized financial guidance to meet their goals. We offer services with no account minimums, working with our clients at every step of the process and empowering them to create, plan, and achieve their desired money goals. We Are: Encouraging: 0% Judgment Trustworthy: Certified, Not Stuffy Purposeful: Fee-only for All Approachable: We Wear Jeans Why did you decide to become an advisor? As a sophomore in college, I was fortunate enough to go on a trip through the Leeds School of Business at The University of Colorado at Boulder. This trip took a group of students to over 10 different financial firms to introduce them to the possibilities of careers in finance. It was on this trip that I declared my major as finance and figured out that I wanted to be a wealth advisor. From there, I pivoted my internship and career choices to pursue my goal of becoming an advisor. What are some questions that you wish more clients would ask, and why? I think it is important for people who are looking for an advisor to know: if the advisor they are talking to is a fiduciary how that advisor is getting paid the investment philosophy and financial planning process the advisor follows what the advisor's qualifications are. I think gauging a sense of the advisor's passion is important too. You want to work with someone who is passionate about what they do, continues to learn, and shows an interest in you. What do you think is the biggest mistake people make with their money? Either they don't save enough, or they save but don't invest. Another big mistake is not understanding the difference between long-term investing in well-diversified funds and day trading. What does your firm's current tech stack look like? How has technology impacted your work? We utilize Betterment for Advisors as our custodian and Right Capital as our financial planning software. We have created our own CRM platform using Airtable which is a zero code cloud spreadsheet database. This tool allows us to customize our own portal where we house client data, tasks, meeting notes, and the client ledger (types of accounts, where they are held, contributions, notes, etc.). What makes Commas unique, however, is our internal automations through Zapier. For example, after our introduction meeting, the prospect is automatically sent an email with the next steps (signing up for our fee, completing a questionnaire and opening a Betterment account with our client agreements). Once they complete that step they are automatically sent another email asking them to upload documents to our secure portal. Those documents then file themselves into the correct client folder. The clients are then prompted to schedule our discovery meeting. This process continues all the way through the client onboarding process, and even when it comes time for generating annual reviews. These automations are what allows us to service our clients more successfully. They decrease the time we spend on busy work—account opening paperwork, filing documents, creating review outlines, sending template emails, etc.—and increase the amount of time we get to meet with clients and work on their financial plans. How have the recent trends toward remote and hybrid work impacted your relationship with clients? The remote work trend has only strengthened our client relationships as we were already well equipped from a technology standpoint. Our client meetings are generally 30 minutes to an hour, which is on the shorter side when looking at some other wealth management firms. I think our clients like the ability to have a quick meeting and get back to their day. They are just as busy as we are! This also allows us to work with clients all across the country. What do you think is the biggest opportunity for advisors today? To work with the everyday investors and show them that they are qualified to work with an advisor. You don't have to have thousands or millions of dollars to get good financial advice from a trustworthy source. This is also an opportunity to prove that fiduciary financial advisors are trustworthy professionals, not shifty sales people. If you won the lottery, what would you do with the money? Treat myself to a nice international vacation, set aside some funds for my closest friends and family (as long as they invest it for their futures), and invest the rest to ensure that I can attain all of my goals and retire comfortably. If you could only give one piece of financial advice, what would it be? If you are young, start investing today—even if it is $10/month! If you are older, still get started today! I also can't help but advise that you talk to a financial advisor (fiduciary!). Every single person's financial situation is different, and having the peace of mind that you are on track is so powerful. Yes, you can absolutely do this on your own, but do you have the time or passion to do it? Will you be 100% confident in your choices? If you are sick, you go to the doctor. If you have a toothache, you go to the dentist. If you have finances to manage (spoiler alert we all do), why not talk to a financial advisor?
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Helping Millennials Match Their Money with Their ValuesHelping Millennials Match Their Money with Their Values A conversation between Sophia Bera Daigle and the Betterment for Advisors team about building a goals-driven practice for millennial clients. Non-paid client of Betterment. Views may not be representative, see more reviews at the App Store and Google Play Store. Advisor: Sophia Bera Daigle, CFP® After working in traditional financial planning firms since 2007, I quit my job at a NY start-up to launch my own firm, Gen Y Planning. I now live in Austin, Texas with my husband, Bryan, and our son, Theo, who was born in the fall of 2020. After spending several months living abroad in 2019, we’re excited to share our love of travel with Theo! Firm: Gen Y Planning Gen Y Planning brings financial planning to millennials. We now work with a variety of clients in their 20s, 30s, and 40s who are in the middle of making huge life decisions: navigating a new job, buying a home, merging finances, starting a family, relocating, and pursuing advanced degrees. The Gen Y Planning team believes that the earlier you work with a CFP®, the faster you can build a secure financial foundation for the future. Why did you decide to become a financial advisor? I like to help people use their money to match their values. My clients range from creatives to small business owners to Silicon Valley employees. Whether you plan to retire early, take a sabbatical, or build a career you love, I’m excited to help! What is the least understood aspect of your job? I would have to say the least understood aspect of my job is that financial planning does not just mean managing investments. I offer comprehensive financial planning, which includes all areas of your financial life: paying down debt, protecting assets that have been accumulated, purchasing a home, refinancing a mortgage, reviewing job offers and company benefit packages, reviewing tax returns, and proactively tax planning. My approach is goal-driven with my clients in the driver's seat. I work with clients to co-create their recommendations so that they’re more likely to implement the recommendations. Then my team and I act as their accountability partners to see that they are following through on the recommendations so that they can reach their goals. Why did you choose to partner with Betterment for Advisors? I like that Betterment offers robo-advising, which includes automatic rebalancing, at a low, flat platform fee, and doesn’t charge more for trades. In addition, Betterment has a simple, user-friendly interface that makes it easy for clients to navigate. Betterment also has great features like effortless Roth conversions and tax-loss harvesting. Something small that I love is the ability to set up an automatic investment weekly instead of monthly. It’s a great way to dollar cost average into the market while also smoothing out cash flow. How have you set up your firm's tech stack? And how has leveraging automation impacted your practice? We utilize a handful of low cost tech tools (Trello, Dropbox, Zoom, TextExpander, Gmail, etc.). We have found that our philosophy of “simple over sexy” has a greater impact on our clients than fancy software with charts and graphs. We don’t pay for expensive financial planning softwares that produce twenty-page reports our clients will never look at. The benefit for us and our clients just isn’t there. We like using Trello to track our clients’ financial goals and life changes and to take notes. We have a board for each client so we can easily prepare for our client meetings. We have a Google form we send to clients before their check in meeting and they update their net worth in Excel. We send them a one-page meeting recap after their meeting in a PowerPoint that we print to PDF. It’s efficient, simple, and the action items that came from the meeting are clear. Can you walk us through what the onboarding experience might look like for a new client at your firm – from when they land on your website to your team actually opening and transferring their assets – and how Betterment may fit into the onboarding workflow? An interested potential client starts by scheduling a 30-minute introductory meeting. They would fill out an intake form prior to our meeting. During the meeting we learn more about them, dive into the services we provide, and end with a quote for our services given their financial situation. After, if they decide they want to become a client, they sign a contract, pay their upfront client fee, and schedule their first client meeting. Prior to this meeting they are given a list of documents to gather and upload to a Dropbox folder for us to review. What is one critical lesson you have learned from your clients? My values and priorities are not necessarily the same as my clients. I need to keep this in mind when a client is making a decision that might not be the best financial decision, but may be a really important life decision that deeply affects other areas of their life. In that case, I want to help them figure out the best way to financially navigate through that choice so that they can continue to reach their goals. How has a remote or hybrid work environment changed your relationship with clients and prospects? I have always run my business remotely, which has a plethora of benefits for clients, the business, and my employees. Clients can meet in the comfort of their home or office and don’t need to worry about commuting to our meeting. It also allows me to work with people across the country and travel myself. It opens my workforce options up to the whole country as well since I don’t require my employees to be in one location and come into an office. I can’t imagine having in-person client meetings again. Now, when I get to see my clients in person, it’s only social! It’s way more fun that way! What do you think is the biggest opportunity for advisors today? I think the biggest opportunity for advisors is in working with the millionaires of tomorrow—young professionals who are making good money but maybe haven’t accumulated much wealth yet. They still need planning in many areas of their lives: paying down student loans, purchasing their first home, negotiating job offers, navigating company benefits and company stock options, starting a family, and saving for retirement. If you could only give one piece of financial advice, what would it be? Don’t wait to start. Small steps have a dramatic impact on your overall financial situation. You don’t want to be shoulders deep in a complex financial situation before you seek help. Find a planner who will be your financial partner to navigate finances with you so you can reach your goals and achieve your dreams.