Internships Leads to Successful Partnership Years Later

Most clients of Nfocus Financial Partners are corporate executives working in Finance and the Technology Sector and they appreciate the advantage of working with an independent advisory firm according to cofounder, Michael Smith CLU, ChFC. Since the Dallas-based firm is aligned with Signator Investors, Inc., an independent broker-dealer, they have access to a wide variety of financial companies and institutions to assist clients with money management.

"We’re not going to try to back a client into one company’s products. Everybody is limited in some manner, but when you’re an independent broker-dealer, it does open up the doors to hundreds of different resources,” said Smith. “And, because of our independence we have access to this tremendous number of instruments to satisfy our clients’ needs. So, we focus on the strategies, not the products.”

Such focus helps to demonstrate the firm’s value to clients compared with other options for portfolio management, including automated online financial management platforms driven by algorithms. Known as robo-advisors, they are a low-cost option available to anyone with an internet connection.

Smith says that many robo-advisor services provide a viable alternative for people who may not have a professional advisor to turn to when they have financial questions. Yet, he agrees with his partner and firm co-founder, Lucas Lawson CLU, who says that “the human connection” is lost, and so is an understanding of a client’s personal tendencies and family situation which is imperative in helping to manage their financial future.

“Rules of thumb and algorithms can be beneficial to large groups of people at one time, but having a person who’s engaged in achieving your financial success is often worth the added cost,” said Lawson, referring to the value of the Advisor/Client relationship.

An online program also can’t fulfill a fiduciary duty which is at the heart of the mission of Nfocus Financial Partners. As fiduciaries they are transparent with clients on many levels, including how they get paid.

“For us, the fiduciary role is not only making right decisions on the product that we use and how it aligns with a client’s risk tolerance. It is also asking, are we doing the right thing for this person even though it may not mean any money is coming into the firm from a management standpoint, but we’re putting the family in a better scenario,” Smith said. “I’m sorry that our industry gets a bad rap sometimes on certain behavior, but I don’t think that’s the norm. I think the majority of people in our industry are doing a good job trying to take care of the folks out there.”
Discussing financial topics relevant to the client begins the process of building a relationship, and a lot of time is devoted to that before a full financial plan is created, said Lawson.

“The first step towards bringing value to a client is helping to explain what it is they already own and have put in place. Then, helping them to understand the areas of concern and what strategies are an appropriate fit,” he said.

Efforts to educate people on financial matters extends beyond their clients and out into the community. Throughout the year, Smith and Lawson host workshops on various topics such as: Social Security, Long-Term Care Insurance, Health Care Costs during Retirement and Cyber Security.

The Succession Plan

This is a year of transition for Nfocus Financial Partners as Smith prepares to hand off the responsibility of leading the firm to Lawson at the start of 2019. Smith will move into what he calls a “support role” and focus on teaching.

Smith originally started the firm after losing his job as a regional manager for TRW Credit Data when they were bought out by Experian. Smith knew his next move was to work for himself.
“It’s always been the best way people can have control of their future as well as their income, and I was ready at that stage of my life to do something different – before I got too old,” said Smith who was 42 at the time.

Lawson joined Smith as an intern while still in college. After graduation, he started his own practice and focused on long-term care and insurance solutions.

“Then, I began to move towards investment management and holistic financial planning,” said Lawson. “After about five years, Mike and I decided to officially partner up in our practices, later forming Nfocus Financial Partners. I very much enjoy educating and assisting families to make better decisions with their money.”

Clients of Nfocus Financial Partners have access to a team of professionals experienced in finance, banking, insurance, and other related services with reinforcement from a network of CPAs and attorneys.

“We play quarterback on our clients’ teams, we don’t play all positions, but we try to be the quarterback – we just need to know what play is going on so we can keep everything connected,” said Smith.

In 2016, the firm was named “Practice of the Year” by Signator Investors, Inc. Selected from a national network of over 2,000 advisors, the prestigious award recognizes excellence in business management, and is the highest measure of accomplishment within Signator Investors. To Smith, Lawson, and the rest of the Nfocus Financial Partners team, the achievement symbolizes their years of commitment to their clients.

“We take pride in knowing that families are more protected and in a better position to accomplish their goals, because they otherwise might not have been prompted to do so without our help,” Lawson said.

For more information on Nfocus Financial Partners, LLC, visit: www.nfocusfinancial.com

Registered Representative/Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through Signator Investors, Inc. member FINRA, SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor. 17300 Dallas Parkway, Suite 1000, Dallas, TX 75248 (972) 774-0700 Nfocus Financial Partners, LLC is independent of Signator Investors, Inc. 166-20180420-447946


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