Much like wiring electric, DIY financial planning can prove dangerous. According to David Smyth, a senior partner with Family Financial Partners, “People have the misconception that you can get the same results from a Google search and investing without professional guidance. There’s a lot of nuance to this business, and we focus on this all day, every day. I know I need professional guidance when it comes to legal advice, so I hire the professional who fits my needs and personality best. It’s the same with financial planning. It’s not something everyone can or should DIY.”
Family Financial Partners is a full-service financial planning firm, focused on multigenerational families, that works to develop a financial plan tailored to each client’s specific needs and dreams. As a fee-only fiduciary, the firm ensures complete transparency and holds the responsibility to always act in the client’s best interest. Their dedicated team of industry professionals will ask questions, listen to the client’s concerns, and work behind the scenes to find solutions. With the client’s permission, they will also reach out to other professionals, such as accountants or attorneys, to “provide an integrated approach and attempt to ensure maximum benefit.” Family Financial Partners provides retirement planning, lifestyle planning, estate planning, and wealth transfer goals as well as insurance and tax planning.
The financial advisors at Family Financial Partners share the belief that “professional management of your finances is the driving force behind long-term financial stability. Your hard-earned assets exist to provide a safety net and income for the rest of your life, and if you wish, an income stream for generations to come.”
On why he loves his role, Smyth says, “I help people sleep at night. I help people determine their priorities and values and then help them align their spending and saving to those priorities and values throughout their lifetime. I help people make good decisions for themselves and their families. I help people enjoy life, now and decades from now. There’s nothing like seeing the look on a client’s face when they’ve met a goal, or hit a savings milestone. I’m not just a financial planner—I’m a financial therapist.”
Family Financial Partners offers this advice as we move into 2021: “Think long-term. 2020 was a roller coaster of a year for everyone, but staying focused on a long-term plan instead of reacting to the short-term is the best advice I can give for starting out this year.”
The focus at Traditional Bank is simple: to hire and develop exceptional people and equip them with the tools and resources they need to build strong relationships and meet the unique financial goals of every customer. Formed in 1902 this flexible, “people-first” approach has been key to the bank’s sustainability as well as its growth. Today it serves as the fifth largest bank by market share in Fayette County.
Vice President John Reynolds relishes his relationships with his clients. He says, “I have the pleasure of working with both business and personal banking customers. Whether I’m helping my client buy a home, grow their business, or both, it’s an amazing feeling when they’re able to reach their goals.”
Reynolds began his career with Traditional Bank over two decades ago. He states, “I have always been a numbers guy and knew I wanted to go into accounting or banking. I started my work as a teller at Traditional Bank and never looked back. I’ve been here ever since.”
As a career banker John offers this guidance: “My number one piece of advice is to live below your means and save as much as you can. You never know what lies ahead, so being financially prepared can make the stumbles in life a little easier to handle.”
Banking is in Mark’s blood. He explains, “My dad was a banker for over 40 years and I learned so much from him. He taught me to surround myself with experts— bankers, attorneys, and CPAs— and ask questions.”
Being part of the team of experts at Citizens Commerce, a local community bank serving Fayette, Jessamine, Franklin, and Woodford counties, Yates is now the one with the answers. He readily uses his education and experience to help his customers find the perfect product to meet their banking needs. Yate’s says, “The most rewarding part of my job is helping customers meet their goals for their businesses and families.”
Yates, who has been with Citizens Commerce since 2011, realizes different clients prefer different types of banking, so Citizens Commerce offers options. He says, “We realize that while many prefer to come inside the bank, several prefer to do everything online.”
To those asking for basic financial guidance, Yates replies, “The most important advice I would give is to set a budget and try to stick to it. There are always uncertainties and emergencies but having a budget and staying on track can help prepare for those unexpected occurrences.”
When it comes to investing, Rowena Ruff advises, “Try to not let either fear or greed direct your investments—keep your emotions out of investing.” And, Ruff should know. She has been in the finance field for over 25 years and interested in investing since her teen years, Ruff, who serves as a managing partner at Ashwood Wealth Management, says “In 1997, a mentor encouraged me to apply to be an investment consultant and that was a eureka moment! I got licensed and have been in the investment industry since then.”
Located between Chevy Chase and downtown, Ashwood Wealth Management is a boutique, independent advisory, and investment firm. The team provides personalized investment advice, brokerage services, individual retirement accounts, 401k distribution education, business retirement plans, wealth transfer, trust services, annuities, college savings plans, social security planning, and long-term care planning. Ashwood’s primary purpose is to help clients who have a wide variety of needs as they maneuver through a complex financial-services world.
Ruff reminds us that all financial advisers are not the same. “Not all financial advisors are held to the same rigorous fiduciary standards, some are just salespeople, explains Rowena. “I genuinely care about my clients and have many long term relationships where they have shared their life transformations with me. This makes for a deeply abiding relationship.”
After working in the commercial real estate industry, Christian felt compelled to change careers and enter the investment advisory arena. “It was the best professional decision I ever made.” Erickson is now the managing principal at Ashwood Wealth Management, Inc.
For him, his job holds numerous rewards, some surprising. Erickson explains, “Believe it or not, some of the most beneficial parts of the job occur when markets go south. I help my clients see through the darkness of market downturns and keep a long-term positive perspective. Twenty-eight years of good... and bad... markets teach you a lot.”
“My friend, Kenny McPeek tells me he doesn’t buy a young horse to be a good two-year-old racehorse. He’s buying the yearling to become a great older athlete. I build my portfolios the same way.”
Despite complications of the Covid pandemic, Christian Erickson recommends optimism. He says, “Build your portfolios for the long term and be positive. Seek financial advice from a financial advisor who has seen good and not so good markets. The future looks bright.”
In these uncertain times, Dave Harris, CEO of MCF Advisors shares this wisdom: “Acknowledge that predicting the future is challenging, yet know that being prepared for it is within your grasp.” Harris sees himself as a builder with the mission of “assisting others to be successful and helping them cross the finish line.”
Today, MCF employs 24 professionals serving clients through their Wealth Management Division (including individuals, families, and business owners) and the Institutional Division (which offers defined contribution plans, pension plans, endowments, and corporate funds), representing more than $2 billion in investable client assets.
By offering transparency, a tested four-point investment philosophy, and intellectual capital paired with technical ability, MCF’s aim is to instill confidence and help each client reach their unique financial goals. The firm believes that “successful outcomes are the result of a disciplined and prudent approach.” According to Harris, “Most think it’s always about numbers, but to be truly successful, empathy becomes the difference.”
MCF has assembled an excellent team of professionals having advanced degrees and designations to achieve this. “Someone once asked me, ‘what if you invest in your people and they leave?’ I then asked, ‘what if we don’t and they stay!’” Harris explains.
To say these are complicated and chaotic times for employers may be an understatement. According to Alyssa Potter, director of institutional services at MCF Advisors, “The employee benefits landscape is complex with ever-changing legislation. 2020 was a great ex- ample where employers had to very quickly understand and implement new regulations. Given this chaotic backdrop, executing your fiduciary responsibilities for your employees can be challenging and stressful.”
Luckily, the MCF Institutional team is there to help. With a commitment to delivering the high- est level of consulting services to retirement plans and institutional investors, MCF’s focus in on reducing risk for client organizations while simultaneously improving outcomes for both employees and employers. Potter says, “Plan sponsors need a retirement advisory team, with bench-strength, that can provide real knowledge of ERISA laws, plan design, fiduciary governance, investment guidance, and hands-on assistance for the retirement planning needs of their employees, now more than ever.”
Potter adds, “MCF partners with our clients to help optimize their retirement plan to not only achieve their organizational goals, but most importantly to help employees achieve a meaningful retirement. Our focus is to ensure your participants have all the necessary information and confidence to make their retirement goals a reality.”
Just as bodily health is increased through holistic medicine, financial health requires holistic financial planning. As Director of Wealth Management Service at MCF Advisors, Brittany Manning provides just this. Manning says, “We tailor our planning and investment strategies to the needs of each client. Helping someone be able to achieve a dream is the ultimate reward for me.”
After earning a Masters in Accountancy and then practicing public accounting, Manning realized she wanted to use her education and experience to help individuals find greater financial freedom and security. Manning says, “I wanted to integrate myself more into helping clients with their financial endeavors. Work- ing at MCF with our clients has allowed me to marry my tax background to my desire to continue to help people with their finances and goals.”
She adds, “I love seeing a client’s face when we show them their financial plan, including all the things they had hoped to be able to do in the future. And, as a native Lexingtonian, I truly love our city. It brings me so much joy to be able to help friends, neighbors, and long time acquaintances in achieving their financial dreams and seeing continual growth and reinvestment in our community.”
According to Scott Downing, “If 2020 taught us anything, it’s the value of building in room for error in your financial life. Instead of talking about how to achieve higher investment returns with your advisor, spend some time asking what could go throw you off course. If there isn’t a clear answer, then your time and efforts need to go to preparing now before it’s too late.”
When seeking financial guidance, Downing suggests, “People should look for an advisor who asks a lot of questions and listens before providing advice. Much like a doctor must understand your health history before prescribing a treatment, your advisor should get to know what is important to you before recommending a course of action.
Clients of MCF Advisors can rest assured knowing a dedicated financial advisor will collaborate with MCF’s internal CFPs, CPAs and accountants, tax and estate professionals, certified financial analysts, and retirement planning experts to help them achieve their financial goals. Downing states, “My work removes financial stress for a client with clarity and a plan, allowing them to focus on what’s most important to them. Since no two people or families are the same, the job is different and exciting each and every day.”
Jeff Jennings’ current career is rooted in his childhood. He explains, “Growing up on a farm finances were difficult for our family and community. I believe I took an early interest in finance to find out why it caused anxiety for so many around me. My curiosity led me to focus on tax and estate planning in law school, and then led me back to the community to help with personal financial planning.”
Jennings is now a financial advisor with MCF, a fiduciary only advisor; what clients pay is structured so MCF does better when the client does better. Jennings believes you cannot help the client without first thoroughly knowing the client. He says, “Investment risk cannot be budgeted based on age or ‘how would you feel’ questionnaires. The correct amount of risk in your investments can only be budgeted after an analysis of your entire financial situation.”
To that end, Jennings adds, “Make sure your advisor is talking about you, not 2021. Make sure your tax advisor, investment advisor, and estate advisor are collaborating. Make sure they know your family’s entire balance sheet and expected future income and expenses. Make sure your investments and plans are tailored to your needs, not 2021’s predictions.”
In his role at South Central Bank, Coby Adkins focuses on the commercial side of lending. He says, “After several years in retail banking, where the majority of my clients were consumers, I found myself gravitating to the commercial side. I found the complexities of the lending needs interesting. Every client is different and the lending relationship and structure unique.”
South Central Bank, itself, focuses on local service, personal relationships with clients, and empowering their employees to make decisions and implement solutions while leveraging modern banking technology. On the commercial lending front, they provide a wide array of products, including the financing of the purchase or refinance of both commercial and residential investment properties as well as owner-occupied commercial properties, equipment lending, operating lines of credit, construction lending, development loans, and business acquisition.
As a commercial lender, Adkins most values the customer relationship. He states, “With commercial lending, you spend a lot more time talking to your customer and, more times than not, become friends.”
When asked what financial advice he would lend, Adkins says, “Be prepared to make changes. There’s a lot of uncertainties out there right now, so I would prepare to be flexible.”
According to Brian Volz, “In my opinion, the biggest misconception about the finance field, especially mortgage lending, is that we look for reasons to deny borrowers from homeownership when in fact it is just the opposite. We are always working to find ways to make the American Dream come true for everyone.”
Hallmark Home Mortgage offers first-time homebuyer, new construction, specialty, and traditional loans, including FHA, USDA, VA, and conventional. Volz personally specializes in all aspects of residential lending with a focus on new construction and purchase transactions. He states, “I pride myself in creating an experience beyond the sale and hope to create lasting relationships. In residential lending, you meet so many people. Being able to share in their story and help them achieve their goals is an experience like no other.”
For those considering homeownership, Volz offers these encouraging words: “Don’t be afraid to apply for a mortgage. So many people believe owning a home is an unattainable goal. They assume they won’t qualify for a mortgage and as a result, are hesitant to try to buy a home. There are so many loan programs available, and my purpose is to help make homeownership a reality.”
With nearly 20 years of experience in financial planning, Kevin Kitchin, CFP®, AAMS® has seen his share of market fluctuation and economic uncertainty. He advises, “Turn the noise off and focus on you. Obviously, there are so many distractions in our world right now, and it is very easy to get emotional with our finances. Be careful, stay disciplined, and stick with your financial plan. If you don’t have a plan or are not comfortable with your current strategy, seek the help of an advisor and get on track.”
That is where Kitchin comes in, as a partner, planner, and investment advisor with VFG Wealth Management and Benefit Solutions, a full-service independent investment firm that provides financial and benefit solutions to individuals and businesses throughout Kentucky.
Kitchin prides himself on providing comprehensive financial planning, including ongoing investment portfolio monitoring and review, estate planning and trust services, and retirement and insurance planning. He says, “Gaining the trust of an individual or business to help improve their financial strengths and implement a plan to solve their financial weaknesses is very rewarding.”
For Stinson Miller, banking runs in the family: “Both my dad and uncle were in banking when I was young. They always emphasized that building trust and developing and maintaining relationships are important parts of banking. My strong background in sales coupled with my MBA have provided me with the tools to help my clients.”
As an assistant vice president and private banker with WesBanco, Miller works with clients and their families “to help deliver insightful banking solutions.” He elaborates, “Whether complex lending solutions or day-to-day banking needs, I help provide a personalized experience to provide financial peace of mind. My goal is to understand my clients’ short-term financial needs and help them reach their long-term financial goals. Most days I consider private banking a career in building relationships and helping people.”
Founded over 150 years ago, WesBanco is a diversified financial services company that prides itself on “delivering large bank capabilities with a community bank feel.” In 2020, Forbes magazine ranked WesBanco as 7th on their list of “Best Banks in America,” based on high scores in the categories of customer services, financial advice, satisfaction, and digital services. Miller’s simple financial advice is “find a banker you know and trust.”
One of the misconceptions Financial Consultant Brittany Lawson would like to dispel is “that you have to be rich to get good help.” Lawson says, “At Thrivent, we see money differently: we recognize money is a tool, not a goal. With our unique structure and perspective, we’re on your side—advocating for you and helping you navigate your financial future. You can feel confident that you have a partner who prioritizes your needs and values.”
Thrivent is a diversified financial services organization, providing financial advice, investments, insurance, banking, and generosity programs to help people make the most of all they’ve been given. Brittany specializes in retirement income planning, tax-efficient strategies, helping clients develop an investment portfolio, planned giving strategies, and optimizing estate/wealth transfers.
Lawson believes there is no time like the present to gain financial confidence. “This is the year to build on your support system. Develop, deepen, and foster those relationships with CPAs, attorneys, financial professionals, mortgage bankers; lean on their expertise to help answer questions and lead you down the most appropriate path for your unique needs. That’s why I got into finance—to help people feel comfortable about money and to help instill confidence in their ability to make wise choices with what they have.”
From the moment a college professor introduced Marc Cobane, AWMA, CEPA, CRPS, CRSP to options trading, he knew he wanted to manage money for people. Co- bane says, “As a financial advisor, I am able to combine my affinity to- wards math/finance and my passion for helping people.” The co-founder of Alpha Financial Partners feels, “it’s truly a blessing to be able to do what you love every day and to help people set and achieve their life goals as their personal CFO.”
Formed in 2020 by three industry veterans, Alpha Financial Partners is an independent Registered Investment Advisory firm that takes fiduciary responsibility for their clients’ wealth management and corporate benefit needs. They offer guidance on wealth management, employee benefits, business owner services, institutional services, and advisor succession. According to Cobane, “Helping people achieve financial freedom is what we are all about. We take care of their money as their named investment fiduciary so they can focus on their family, career, and non-financial goals.”
One piece of advice Cobane offers pertains to patience: “I commonly run into investors who think they can ‘time the market’. History—and the power of compounding—has shown that investor success is most commonly a result of ‘time in the market’ not ‘timing the market’.” Alpha Financial Partners’ “Stock Market SeatbeltTM” can mitigate market fluctuations and helps them stay on track.
For more than a century, Community Trust Bank has been committed to providing the highest standards of customer service. Founded in Pikeville in 1903, Community Trust fulfills the personal and business banking needs of people and communities of Kentucky, West Virginia, and Tennessee, including providing customized mortgage and commercial loans.*
Vice President of Commercial Lending Joe Kenney says, “I love helping my clients navigate through their options. At times, commercial lending can be complex, and my goal is to provide the best options. Being creative, crunching numbers, and analyzing businesses from all sides to find a great solution excites me.”
Kenney also encourages clients to envision their financial future. He advises, “Get to know and understand your goals and implement a plan to achieve them. I see a lot of people extend themselves without stopping to realize their goals first. I like to approach both my customers’ and personal finances with goals in mind, and then analyze to find the best way to achieve them.”
For those considering a career in the field, he offers these words of wisdom: “Finance takes time to learn and grow. This isn’t an overnight career, but if you are committed and dedicated, success will follow.”
“It is so inspiring to hear the personal stories from our clients – what they hope to accomplish in life, how their past impacts their current views and their dreams for the future. They are all so different and we learn more with each new relationship,” says Taylor Davis, Financial Advisor with Northwestern Mutual.
Taylor and his team work with families and professionals across Kentucky and the country to develop a definitive, actionable financial roadmap to accomplish their short and long term goals.
“Our clients are putting one of their most precious assets in our hands – their dreams – we take that job very seriously,” he explains.
“We honor that privilege by listening, communicating, and at times, having the hard conversations that are needed to give the clients what they are seeking – a life of financial abundance and security, customized to their unique needs. It starts with helping our clients align their financial habits with their version of their American dream,” Taylor says.
Andrew Windsor has been in the financial industry for two decades. He says, “I had an opportunity to work for a sizable financial firm for my first job and jumped at it. It was at the height of the dot-com era and a fun time to work in the industry. Fast forward twenty years, I’ve learned a lot, been humbled a few times, and still like working in the industry as much as I did back then.”
Currently, Windsor serves as Vice President and Portfolio Manager for Community Trust Wealth & Trust Management. Headquartered in Lexington, Community Trust Wealth & Trust Management is a business unit of Community Trust and Investment Company. Their services include investment management, retirement services, trust, and estate services, life insurance, and more – all with the goal of improving clients’ financial futures.
Windsor explains, “I think there is the perception that the industry is driven by greed. While that can be the motivating factor for some, much of our industry is there to help people achieve financial success and independence. Helping people is by far the most rewarding part. Knowing that you make a difference in allowing people to achieve their financial goals is what it is all about.”
“The pandemic has given us all a chance to pause and look at both our finances and life situation,” Chad Rudzik states, “Take advantage of this opportunity to define what you want now and what you want as your legacy. There is planning to be done now in order to achieve both.”
Rudzik relishes his position as vice president and wealth management advisor at Bank of the Bluegrass & Trust Co.. “The opportunity to work as a trusted advisor to clients and their families to achieve their long term goals is what drives me. Wealth management gives me the opportunity to help clients achieve both financial and life goals. Multigenerational planning provides much-needed clarity for everyone.”
Bank of the Bluegrass & Trust, a locally owned and independent community bank, works with clients on estate and business succession planning as well as investments, insurance, and financial planning. For over 40 years, they have provided Lexingtonians with wealth management services using a coordinated approach along with world-class investment research. Rudzik explains, “People often don’t realize how important it is to have coordination between their advisors, such as their attorneys, CPAs, and wealth management advisor. Everyone serves a role and should work together for the best client outcomes.”
Of the term “banker’s hours,” Cindy Burton, president of Bank of Lexington, says, “That doesn’t really exist anymore, if it ever did. I put in a lot of 10 hour days.” This commitment has led to significant success. The bank opened in 2006 with the mission of creating a true community bank and with assets of just $14 million. By the end of 2020, these assets had grown to $289 million.
Despite this growth, you can still expect to receive big bank services with community bank touches. When you call Bank of Lexington, you will be talking to a person on the other end of the line who can assist with services that include free checking, savings, money market accounts certificates of deposit, loans, and mortgages—all customized to the specific client. Burton says, “We advise clients when discussing their needs; we are not just order takers.”
For Burton, the most rewarding part of her job is helping fill an individual’s needs. She states, “You might be helping a growing family get a larger home or helping an empty nester downsize so they can travel. Lately, we have been guiding a lot of our business clients through COVID-19 and all the challenges it has presented.”