Economy

Weaponizing Financial Advice Serving Those Who Serve

At the end of 2021, there were nearly 1.4 million active military service members across the United States, according to the Department of Defense Manpower Data Center. What’s more, some 18 million Americans—about 7% of the population—were veterans of U.S. Armed Forces, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

After retiring from the U.S. Air Force, one of them took flight on a new career in financial advisory services. And today, Jose ‘Rafi’ Rodriguez, a retired Colonel USAF, advises other vets, active service members, business owners and other individuals, after founding Rodriguez Financial Strategies, based in Beavercreek, Ohio. He’s president of the practice, as well as a Retirement Income Certified Professional (RICP®) and a Federal Retirement Consultant (FRCsm).

“I was an Air Force officer and got engaged in a lot of planning for weapon systems development,” Rodriguez told Advisors Magazine in a recent interview, “and I realized the weapons-systems planning process was virtually the same as financial planning.”

That process is a four-step one for financial clients. Rodriguez calls it DPIR (for Discover, Plan, Implement and Review), which guides clients through their financial journey.

The firm is proud of its veteran ownership and operation. Joining Rodriguez as a financial advisor and partner is U.S. Navy veteran Mark Richmond.

Rafi Team“We deal with a lot of federal employees who are retiring, and our office is right next to Wright-Patterson Air Force Base,” Rodriguez said.

Wright-Patterson is in northeast Dayton and counts more than 30,000 employees, including military, civilian and contractors. As such, Wright-Patterson is the largest single site employer in the state of Ohio with an economic impact of $4.2 billion per year, according to the AFB’s fact sheet.

“This is our niche,” Rodriguez added. “We have a lot of potential clients out of the base, and we focus predominantly on Department of Defense professionals and contractors, because most of the contractors around here that work with the DOD, many of them are veterans themselves.”

Rodriguez Financial Strategies is also now garnering more small business owners as clients since they also need retirement services and advice regarding 401(k)s and other special assistance.

“Once in a while we will be referred someone who’s not in this niche, and we certainly take care of them,” Rodriguez added.

“We don’t turn anyone away and we don’t have a firm minimum,” he emphasized. “We are mainly a fee-for-service model, doing financial plans, coaching, and offering advice and guidance. For doing that, our hourly fee is $150 per hour, but if a person has assets they’d like us to manage, we would have a separate advisory fee within the portfolio.”

In fact, the practice’s website name—www.askrafi.com—reflects its strength in providing retirement lifestyle solutions and sharing knowledge.

“I saw my parents having a hard time in retirement,” Rodriguez recalled. “And it opened up my eyes when I saw them sacrificing potential retirement savings so that I could go to college.”

He added: “It hit me pretty hard, and I thought maybe their misfortune was something other people also encountered. So, that was the motivation for me to become a financial planner. I retired from the Air Force in 2004 and set about getting my certifications—becoming an independent fiduciary in 2009 when I launched Rodriguez Financial Strategies. And I’ve been at it ever since.”

Currently, Rodriguez acknowledges that many clients are concerned about the current state of the U.S economy, inflation and the prospect of a recession.

“In these times, we’ve stepped up our engagement with our clients,” he said. “We are reviewing our clients’ risk tolerance to ensure that our portfolio we manage for them – or even within their own 401(k) for that matter—is on the right track.”

Rodriguez Financial Strategies is also encouraging its clients to beef up their emergency savings, as well as conducting and coaching budget reviews.

“We coach our clients to have three buckets,” Rodriguez said. One is for savings, one is for emergencies and the other is for short-term goals—such as travel, a vacation, a down payment for a car, things like that.”

Part of the savings bucket is to have what Rodriguez calls a management reserve for their portfolios, which could cover any unforeseen variables due to inflation.

“We’re now recommending, for example, that clients have between $200-$500 to manage the variability in their budget,” he suggested.

Rafi AwardIt could be more than that depending on each specific case, and if it’s not needed for an emergency, these reserves can be used to fund their portfolios.

“And it’s working. Clients are, in many cases, even putting more money into their own portfolios because they see the value of buying shares at a low cost,” Rodriguez said. “Everything is on sale right now.”

Beyond his practice, Rodriguez is the current chairman of the board of the United Way of the Greater Dayton Area and spends a lot of time with those less fortunate. He runs an annual golf tournament called ‘Rafi Amigos Golf Outing’ with every penny raised going to local children. He also selects the junior ROTC at the local high school—partly because he’s an ROTC program alum, but also because he knows such students will be this country’s future leaders.

Indeed. From the Air Force to financial planning to his community, a commitment to service runs through Rodriguez’s veins.

For more information, visit: www.askrafi.com/”askrafi.com

Securities offered through Securities America, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC.
Advisory Services offered through Securities America Advisors, Inc. An SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Rodriguez Financial Strategies LLC and the Securities America companies are unaffiliated.

 

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