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Interview With Dave

How long have you been doing what you do and how did you get to be a Financial Advisor?

Like many people these days, I started on a completely different career path before finding my passion in the field of financial planning.  I studied in college to be a Chemical Engineer and received my degree from Penn State (We Are!) in the early 1990’s.

As I was graduating from college as a newly minted engineer, my Dad was going through some career transition planning.  Like many people, he was concerned that he might outlive his money.  He wanted some long-term guidance on how much money he could budget and spend on a monthly basis without burning through all of his savings.

After conducting a short interview with him regarding the types of assets he had, how long he projected he’d live and some other assumptions, I put together a simple planning spreadsheet for him that required him to input updated monthly totals for each of his investments and then calculated how much he could safely spend on a monthly basis and still have money left over by age 90.

I made that first financial planning spreadsheet for my Dad over 20 years ago and he still uses it every month to guide his spending decisions.  Over the years, he has told me how much peace of mind having this planning tool has brought to him because he knows exactly where he stands financially as he contemplates major purchases and spending choices in his life.

Despite this early success with my Dad, I continued to think of financial planning as a hobby.  In the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, I (like many other people) learned some very expensive lessons about what not to do with stocks when the “Tech Bubble” burst.  I was also busy buying a first home, starting a family and really thinking about my financial future for the first time in my life.

As I observed how much my life was impacted by the financial decisions I was making, I realized that I could make a huge and positive impact on people’s lives if I was able to help them make sound financial choices that in turn enabled them to reach their professional and personal goals.

So, from 2005-2007, while continuing to work full time, I studied for and passed the Certified Financial Planner® examination while interning at a local wealth management firm.   This was followed by an assignment as a part-time advisor for a New Jersey-based wealth management firm from 2008-2010 which led me to found my own company – Rowan Financial LLC – in 2010.

 

What are Your Top 3 Beliefs about Money?

#1 – Don’t Spend More Than You Make
Early in childhood, I was taught that if I really wanted something, I needed to figure out how to make and save enough money to get it. I came from a solidly middleclass household, so we were never wanting for much; however, for larger items like buying my first car, months and in some cases years of disciplined savings were required to reach my goals.

I continue to carry this belief forward into adulthood and other than our house and cars, we only buy things that we can pay for with the cash we have on hand.

As a result of this belief, I’ve been diligently putting away at least 10% of our household income since my early 20’s. Initially this required some difficult spending decisions and choosing among the few, most important purchases we wanted to make.

By staying committed to living within our means for the last 25 years or so, my family is grateful to have money set aside for retirement, money set aside for our kids’ education and money left over to create wonderful family memories through shared experiences.

#2 – Take Charge of Your Finances to Take Charge of Your Life
OK there’s a lot going on in this one. Before I became a financial advisor I did not understand how investments worked and I did not truly understand the impact that a few key decisions could have on my long-term finances and ultimately what I wanted to do with my life.

I have become a lifelong student of how personal and business finances really work and I see how the decisions made in your 20’s, 30’s and 40’s ripple out through the rest of your life and into subsequent generations. Through my clients and within my own experience, I have seen the huge, positive impact that taking charge of my finances has had on creating the life that my family now enjoys today.

As a result, my mission at Rowan Financial starts with client education via my blog and by being a regular contributor to sites such as Investopedia, NerdWallet, Nasdaq.com and The Christian Science Monitor. This is because I believe that better financial literacy leads to better financial outcomes; and enabling my clients to create these better financial outcomes for themselves leads to lives full of more and better choices and personal freedom.

#3 – Connect Your Money with Your Greater “Why”
#1 & #2 above are about the “What” you should do with your money. I advise my clients on the “How” to go about making saving and spending decisions, “How” to invest and “How” to plan for things like retirement, estate planning, tax considerations and many other aspects of your financial life.

However, none of this matters if your finances are not connected to a greater “Why” in your life.

Why are you saving money? Is it to:

  • Have options with your career to pursue a new line of work, open the business you’ve always wanted to found or transition into an encore career giving you more freedom of schedule and satisfaction on the job?
  • Create lasting memories with friends and families to build deep and rich relationships in your life?
  • Provide an education and opportunities for your children to give them the best possible start in life?

I believe that keeping this “Why” front and center is the best way for me and for you to make the financial choices that will enable you to achieve your personal and professional goals.

Who are your clients exactly?

I work with many different types of clients coming from all different life and financial circumstances.

Here are the traits that most of my clients typically share:

  • You are experiencing or contemplating a major financial transition (career change, starting or expanding a business, loss of spouse, semi-retirement). You are anxious about how it will work out and want to make sure that you understand and have step-by-step instructions for the most important decisions you can make with your finances to successfully navigate this transition.
  • You are a goal-setter and a planner. When making changes in your life, you like to “look before you leap” and have a plan in place to guide your actions and decision-making.
  • You are a diligent saver, but also spend money to create the life you want to live for yourself and your loved ones. You understand that meeting your financial goals enables you to have more and better choices and gives you the personal freedom to custom-design your life based on what works best for you and your family.
What type of clients do you work best with?

Typically, the clients that I work best with and who get the most value from my services as a financial advisor are positive, energetic people who are willing to take the decisions and actions that are necessary for them to achieve their wealth accumulation, personal and professional goals.

My most successful clients also understand that investing is a long-term process characterized mostly by years of steady progress toward their financial goals, but also are periodically punctuated either by outstanding years of above average returns or by disappointing years of negative returns.

Finally, clients that get the most value from our work together utilize the full breadth of services that I offer, not only in terms of managing their investments, but also by helping them connect their personal finances with their bigger “Why.” (See Personal Belief #3 above.)

I realize that everyone is busy and I’m here for as much or as little time as my clients want to spend with me. We can work through a major financial transition and cover many topics with a half day planning session or we can work items one at a time with a series of series of “10-Minute Touch Base” conversations. It’s entirely up to you!

How are you different from other financial advisors?

There are many wonderful advisors out there who are helping people make good progress toward their financial goals.  What separates me from these other advisors is that I understand that financial decisions are one of the most critical means to a much more important end, which is living a fulfilling life with purpose.

Connecting personal goals and fulfillment to financial outcomes requires that I place a high emphasis on client education within Rowan Financial.  Whether that be via my regular online content that appears in my blog or on websites like NASDAQ.com or Nerdwallet.com; or with making sure my clients have a simple, prioritized list of actions and understand how those actions contribute to their financial success.

This enables me to serve my traditional wealth management clients not just as an account balance, but as a whole person with dreams and ideas for the future.  I enable my clients to transform those dreams from ideas into reality!

 

What is your investment philosophy?

I have been studying investing and financial markets for the last two decades and have reached several firm conclusions that guide the investment decisions that I make on behalf of my clients:

  • Investing is a long-term process.  I build portfolios that are designed to offer superior returns over a long-term time horizon even if this means we need to suffer through some years of negative returns to get there.
  • Many providers within the financial services community charge investors too much money for their products which unnecessarily reduces investor returns and, in some cases, prevents them from meeting their long-term financial goals.  In the vast majority of cases I recommend low cost, no load ETF’s to clients unless one either is not available within a specific sector or in the rare case when an actively managed product is appropriate.  I also use Charles Schwab as an asset custodian to keep trading costs for my clients to an absolute minimum, which further boosts returns by eliminating unnecessary fees.
  • Portfolio diversification across US Equities, International Equities, Emerging Markets, Domestic and International Bonds, Real Estate and Commodities is critical to maximize long-term returns.  I tap into the best long-term thinking to build diversified portfolios for clients.
  • Account rebalancing is also critical to maximize returns for clients.  This is because in many cases the best performing sectors in any given year do not remain the best performing sectors in subsequent years.  Rebalancing effectively enables me to “sell high” in overperforming sectors on your behalf and “buy low” for you in underperforming areas that typically rebound and offer better returns going forward.
  • Long-term money (think retirement) needs to be managed much differently than short-term money (think cash you might need to expand your business over the next two years).  I do not take a cookie-cutter approach to investment portfolios; but instead work with you to build portfolios that match your time horizons, tolerance for year to year variations in returns and will enable you to meet your financial, personal and career goals.

 

What type of clients do you work best with?

Typically, the clients that I work best with and who get the most value from my services as a financial advisor are positive, energetic people who are willing to take the decisions and actions that are necessary for them to achieve their wealth accumulation, personal and professional goals.

My most successful clients also understand that investing is a long-term process characterized mostly by years of steady progress toward their financial goals, but also are periodically punctuated either by outstanding years of above average returns or by disappointing years of negative returns.

Finally, clients that get the most value from our work together utilize the full breadth of services that I offer, not only in terms of managing their investments, but also by helping them connect their personal finances with their bigger “Why.” (See Personal Belief #3 above.)

I realize that everyone is busy and I’m here for as much or as little time as my clients want to spend with me. We can work through a major financial transition and cover many topics with a half day planning session or we can work items one at a time with a series of series of “10-Minute Touch Base” conversations. It’s entirely up to you!

Ok, I’m ready to get started; however, I have a couple of additional questions. Can I call you?
Yes!  Once you have read the contents of this interview, if you still have a few questions, just email me at info@RowanFinancial.com or call me at (484) 601-2776 and we will schedule time for a phone call. I will be happy to answer any additional questions that you have to determine how I can help you achieve your personal and career goals. Let’s get started!! 🙂

Hello, I'm Dave Rowan

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