Retirement Planning


The Wings Beneath Falcon Wealth Planning

Falcon Wealth Planning took flight in early 2015. Flash forward seven years and the Ontario, California financial planning/tax specialist firm is ranked among the fastest growing registered investment advisors (RIAs) in the country.

Especially, since December of 2021, Falcon Wealth Planning has been soaring.

• Ending 2021 with nearly a half-billion dollars in assets under management (AUM) Falcon Wealth was recognized on Citywire’s 50 Grower’s Across America list for 2021, noting it as one of the fastest-growing RIAs in the state of California.

G shahin comp • In mid-May, Falcon Wealth Planning was cited by Arizona State University’s Sun Devil 100 Class of 2022. The program is an annual awards ceremony that honors the fastest-growing businesses that are owned or led by ASU Alumni. For the first time in the Sun Devil 100 history, Falcon Wealth Planning became the only business to win this award twice. Gabriel Shahin, CFP® and Falcon’s CEO, graduated from ASU’s W.P. Carey School of Business in 2006 with a degree in business administration.

• Less than a week later, on May 20, Avantis Investors honored Falcon with the opportunity to tour the New York Stock Exchange and attend the Closing Bell ceremony. Although he was not standing on the podium, Shahin was overjoyed to be there. “It’s too big of a deal to miss,” Shahin said at the time. “Ringing the closing bell is a bucket list item for almost everyone in the financial industry. It’s definitely one of mine. Falcon will get there one day.” He was joined by several of Falcon’s CFPs to represent the company.

• The very next month, Falcon Wealth learned it was a finalist in’s 2022 Industry Awards as a Rising Star of the Year. The 2022 Wealthies marked’s eighth annual awards program that honors individuals, organizations, and companies that help financial advisors create excellent outcomes for their clients and build better businesses. Out of a history-making 1,000 nominees, Falcon Wealth Planning was chosen as one of the 225 organizations to be selected as finalists.

• Also in June, Falcon Wealth Planning’s CEO and founder Shahin was cited as a Leader of Influence in the LA Business Journal. He was nominated in the category for Wealth Managers and was selected based on his impact on the profession and within the Los Angeles community.

The LA Business Journal article described Shahin as the ‘heart, soul, and visionary’ of Falcon Wealth, but he is the first to credit his team of financial professionals.

“This is not the Gabriel Shahin show,” he told Advisors Magazine in a recent interview. “Even though I founded the company and initially ran the company, this is not Gabriel Wealth Planning. It’s Falcon Wealth Planning and everyone is empowered,” Shahin added. “I consider every advisor as a CEO, and they are empowered to make many decisions on their own.”

In just a few short years, Falcon has increased its staff from 11 team members to 32 and set up shop at a new location between LA and San Bernardino, which has plenty of room to expand.

The company may be headquartered in California, but its client base is nationwide. And just recently, Falcon Wealth established a foothold in the Chicago area with an eye on creating a Midwest hub.

MJ Headshot“Collectively as a team we set high goals for ourselves,” Michael Jensen, CFP® and managing partner, said. “We are a growth firm and still in the early innings of reaching our potential. We want to be intentional about our growth without compromising our mission and service offering to help our clients,” he added. “We will continue to invest heavily in our people and processes, and we have high hopes for 2023.”

David Smith HSCase in point: David Smith, CFP® and PhD — who is heading the Chicago initiative — is one of the people Falcon is banking on. “Falcon had the most exciting growth potential out of all of the companies I considered working for,” Smith said. “I am sure we will do big things as we continue to grow our outreach nationally.”

A no-nonsense, straight-shooter advisor, Smith says his aim is to build an office space in the Chicago area where people know they can access true fiduciary advice regarding their finances. “David is so dedicated to his work, I think that he will help the company reach a national network of clients,” Shahin said.

A team of advocates
Falcon’s trademarked tagline is ‘Planning Made Simple.’ And each member of the staff will tell you they take pride in being their client’s financial advocate. In short, they strive to organize and simplify a client’s financial life.

Mariah Trujillo Headshot“As a fee-only, true fiduciary, we have our client’s goals and needs as the core focus of our company,” Mariah Trujillo, operations manager, said. “We build the relationship with our clients to provide clarity, education, and make the financial planning process simple.”

She noted that Falcon’s mission is to provide clients with the tools they need to enjoy their wealth now while also planning for their future.

“We do this by creating and implementing strategies to set up our clients on the path to wealth accumulation, retention, and tax reduction,” Trujillo explained. “Each client receives customized advice from qualified Certified Financial Planners.”

In fact, Falcon’s client-first philosophy is adhered to even before a prospect becomes an actual client.

RB hs“Prior to agreeing to become a client, a prospect is given two free assessments in order to understand their financial well-being and how Falcon Wealth can provide them with assistance to navigate through their financial situation, if they so choose,” Ray Bartolome, COO, told Advisors Magazine. “Our assessments are given at no cost because we believe that our clients and prospects find value and understanding in what it means to have a financial plan established with no strings attached,” he explained.

“This client-centered approach grasps the definition of a fiduciary as we serve our client’s best interest by both managing their financial needs and handling their service expectations,” Bartolome added.

The foundation of the free-assessment phase is education.

Jordan Mayo HS“We know that there is a ton of jargon out there in the industry and we know how it’s used and understood by others in our field,” Jordan Mayo, marketing coordinator, noted. “Our goal is to help bring our clients up to speed.”

She said Falcon Wealth will never just swoop in, take clients’ assets and fly off. “Everything that happens in their accounts is their decision,” Mayo said. “We’re simply the narrated guidebook on how to get where they wish to go in their retirement.”

She added: “It’s part of the reason why we offer our free assessment with no obligation; this is when prospects will receive the knowledge and tools to make the best-educated decisions with their finances.”

After, prospects can decide to move forward on their own or should they express interest in getting more help, Falcon Wealth’s advisors are happy to step in and accompany them on their journey.

And of course, everyone’s journey is different.

Zachary Tyler Royce HS“The way we start the process is a full meeting of listening to the clients’ goals and where they are currently at in achieving those goals,” Zackary Tyler Royce, CFP® and senior financial planner, said. “Our process is a lot different than a typical investment manager,” he continued. “We are truly comprehensive; we believe in helping in all aspects of our client’s life, not just investments.”

Royce emphasized that Falcon Wealth enjoys collaborating with clients who are willing to learn.

“You don’t need to have a financial background to meet with us,” he said. “We start with the basics and work up from there—from someone that has never balanced a checkbook to those who have done the bookkeeping for the household for years.”

Royce added: “We love the opportunity to help; just as long as you are ready to learn and implement.”

Taxation expertise
Helping clients solve three risks for retirement is a mainstay at Falcon Wealth. It views risk as a triangle — the sides being market volatility, individual longevity and the impact of government programs, laws and regulations.

“Most retirees solely focus on market risk while underestimating longevity risk and government risk with potential changes to the tax code and entitlement programs such as Social Security and Medicare,” Managing Partner Jensen said. “We stress test our financial plans for longevity and events such as long-term care, which can have a devastating impact on financial independence later in life.”

Jensen also pointed out that the power of compounding tax-free inside of a Roth IRA account is often underestimated and can serve as a longevity hedge as part of a comprehensive planning approach.

Pete Gautreau HS“Investments should be diversified to incorporate a blend of taxable, tax-deferred and tax-free components to optimize a tax-wise portfolio,” Pete Gautreau, CPA and managing partner, elaborated.

He stressed that individuals meeting a financial planner for the first time should ask what level of tax advice is directly available to clients.

“Important questions would include,” Gautreau said, “‘Do you have easy access to a trusted CPA?’ Better yet, ‘Do you have an in-house CPA that will participate in developing my financial plan? Can I reach out to him at any time with questions or concerns.’”

CEO Shahin emphasized that the firm’s niche is at the intersection of tax planning and wealth management.

“Peoples’ biggest expenses, whether they know it or not, are their taxes,” Shahin said. “And a lot of investment strategies are based on a client’s tax bracket. Yet, very few people insist on having their financial advisor look at the most important piece of their financial documentation, which is their taxes.”

The taxation side of the wealth equation is a big part of Falcon’s DNA. “We tackle taxes head-on as part of a financial plan,” Shahin said. “Our industry says, ‘please consult with a tax advisor.’ Well, we are that tax advisor. We look at the taxes, we give advice. We are the ones you should be talking to.”

Falcon Wealth, in fact, has a sizable number of clients from the tech-giant world who work for companies including Google, Apple, PayPal and others. Savvy tax planning is vital to such clients employed by industries where restricted stocks and incentive stock options are commonplace.

“Business owners are another huge client base for us, given our strength in tax planning,” Shahin said. “Once a business owner sits down at the table with us, it’s over—they are our client.”

As noted earlier, Falcon provides two meetings at no cost. “These are usually two, hour-long meetings—or whatever it takes,” Shahin explained. “Once a prospect becomes a client and we start to develop their own financial plan, the minimum fee is $5,000,” he added.

As a fee-only advisory firm, Falcon Wealth will not charge commissions, will disclose all fees fully, and will work as a fiduciary to assure that financial plans are in the client’s best interest. “The minimum for assets under management depends on the situation,” Shahin noted. “But generally, our business philosophy is we should be making a minimum of $5,000 annually.”

Education is valued highly at Falcon and the subject of taxes also serves as a perfect example of learning in action.

“We literally walk clients through their tax return and every single line item,” Shahin said. “We might be recommending a complex tax strategy so it’s important to take 20 or 30 minutes to explain it. And we’re all drawers here—no slick brochures. We have a yellow notepad or we’re on Zoom with the whiteboard and we draw it all out for them.”

By delving into such core principles clients feel empowered, according to Shahin.

“But most importantly, they understand; And that understanding is a breath of fresh air, because most people in our industry don’t have the time to do that or don’t care to do it,” Shahin said.

Process and people

Shahin takes enormous pride in both the team he has assembled and how they’ve grown. And he’s also always looking for the next generation of CFP talent.

Falcon team

“Working here is an absolute fire hose for people who want to be the best in the profession,” he said. “Any CFP thinking about joining our company should know that we commit the resources and invest so much into our CFPs,” Shahin beamed. “If you’re a CFP with only a few years of experience, after one year at Falcon Wealth you’ll be a more competent financial planner than 95% of those in this industry.”

Ask Shahin the secrets to Falcon’s soaring success of late and he points to two: its people and the company’s focus on process.

“Our people are really great at what they do,” he said. “And they are not your typical sales types; more like engineers with analytical minds to help clients find their unique solutions.”

Shahin added: “The other secret sauce is our tight process. We are very methodical in how we have our first meeting, second meeting, review meetings—and all the elements that go into our planning process.”
That process, however, is flexible enough to be a work in progress.

“A great business plan today can be a bad one tomorrow,” Royce, the senior financial planner, added. “You need to always question your process for you and your clients.”

He noted that the pandemic period of 2020-2021 was a revelation -- in a good way -- for both Falcon Wealth Planning and him.

“There were some things that we could not have imagined,” Royce said, “which only occurred because we have constantly questioned the best practices for our business.”
And by so doing, Falcon Wealth Planning continues on its a high-performance flight path.

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