Helping Clients to Financial Independence

Helping Clients to Financial Independence

Photos by Will Marks

The financial planning profession had just barely gotten started when Rick Rodgers started working as a financial consultant for Shearson American Express on East King Street in Lancaster. The first class of Certified Financial Planners™ had only graduated in 1973. The financial services industry was still primarily a sales oriented business in the mid-1980s. Recommending investments to someone before doing an analysis of their goals and objectives didn’t make sense to Rick. He bought his own personal computer and licensed some Lotus spreadsheets to help run projections, and began creating his own financial plans for prospective clients.

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In 1990, he moved to Prudential Securities where their use of a portfolio architect program offered better financial plans. Rick felt this program also fell short of what was needed. There were no income tax projections or recommendations as the securities firms felt tax advice should be left to accountants. He went back to creating his own plans that included tax recommendations to go along with investment advice. A performance analysis was added in 1995 to show clients how their accounts were keeping pace with projections. His employer didn’t want their advisers calculating performance or giving tax recommendations. It was time to either give up customized planning or try something else.

Rick and Jessica Rodgers opened Rodgers & Associates on December 6, 1996, and Sandy Skrodinsky joined the firm in March of 1997 as operations manager. They decided to focus on clients who were retired or about to retire, assisting them in all aspects of investment, tax, risk management, retirement, and estate planning. Rick describes their relationship with a client as becoming their chief financial officer by helping them make smart financial decisions.

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Being independent of a Wall Street firm was an important first step. However, more needed to be done to remove the influence of the sales culture that continues today in many financial service companies. Rick and Jessica wanted their firm to be a fiduciary to their clients and that meant giving up their securities licenses and becoming fee-only. The transition took nearly eight years before they could completely separate from the brokerage world. The firm has been fee-only since 2005.

For access to the full article, reference page 28 of Issue 40 pdf.