About Stories of the Trusted Advisor
In our series Stories of the Trusted Advisor, we tell the stories of the amazing advisors that work with Bridge. We’ll explore what made them want to become advisors, how they went about founding their firms, how they serve their clients in new and unique ways.
Bridge believes in people over products, and these stories embody that philosophy of people over products. At the end of the day, Bridge’s mission is to deliver technology that transforms data into actionable insights that empower advisors to make a greater impact in their clients’ lives.
In this advisor feature, Bridge has the pleasure of showcasing Kevin O’Reilly, CFP ®, and Tim Carpenter, Wealth Management Principal and Wealth Management Analyst respectively at Foothills Financial Planning.
Before founding Foothills Financial Planning (FFP) over 11 years ago, Kevin O’Reilly was already a seasoned finance guru with an MBA and bachelor degree in finance and over a decade of experience. In his previous corporate roles, he was often leaned on for finance guidance by his coworkers. The way his newest team member, Tim Carpenter, put it “Every time someone had a question on their 401k, or needed financial advice, Kevin was their go-to guy.” While Kevin enjoyed the fast-paced environment of working in finance for big tech, he was looking for a change of pace, the ability to make a more direct and personal impact with advice, and more control over his work.
This is why in 2008, Kevin founded Foothills Financial Planning. Tim Carpenter joined Kevin and associate planner Janet Gerlings at the start of this year to help the firm grow in its next phase of evolution. He brought with him a fresh perspective and his own immense experience from the tech sector. Before joining FFP, Tim had a career in financial technology as one of the earliest teammates of our own Bridge Financial Technology. Tim was an instrumental part of early growth for Bridge and developed a deep understanding of advisor technology and operations. Tim had always had his eye on returning to advising ––where he started his career. So naturally, he felt his tech, growth, and operations experience would be an excellent fit for Kevin’s firm.
Together, the two of them honed in on FFP’s ideal customer persona. They refined their persona of fellow tech professionals, specifically individuals in the C-Suite of growing tech organizations. Tim mentioned, “We work with many business owners, lots of tech folk, and startup people. Both Chicago and Phoenix are growing tech hubs, so we really focus on those markets. The bulk of our clients are in the tech space.” FPP’s clients include a diverse array of life stages and wealth statuses.
FFP has always focused on building a tech-first firm. They had a tight focus on ensuring all their client onboarding and service processes were modern, streamlined, and able to be done virtually. Tim noted, “it’s important to have the right technology in place, but also important to ensure it’s being utilized correctly. Kevin had a great foundation in place for me to build on when I joined.”
As the COVID pandemic unfolded earlier this year many advisory firms like other businesses were forced to move their operations remote either in part or in full. For firms that were unprepared, this was an unplanned, enormous undertaking. However, for FFP, because they have always had such a tight focus on technology and streamlined operations, transitioning to the new virtual advising environment was second-nature to them. In the spring when states were shutting down, FFP didn’t miss a beat as the team met with clients virtually and associate planner Janet Gerlings prepared and filed taxes for clients (another service FFP provides) online. This has enabled the team to use their new entirely remote operations as a competitive advantage. They are now able to target and bring on clients across the country, rather than being limited to only local client opportunities.
“Being prepared for having to go 100% remote has been a super easy transition for us. It’s enabled us to not only help out our current clients, but their friends and family. That advantage not being limited local is something we’re pushing the pedal on right now because it’s a natural way for us to grow.”
The recently volatile market was a strong moment for FFP to showcase their hands-on service and unique approach to building an exceptional client experience. As Tim puts it, “we strive to be a sounding board for clients. Especially during times when the market is choppy and clients may be scared, they need someone to turn to and trust. Other times, it may be a situation when a client wants to talk through a significant purchase or life decision and its impact on their overall financial plan.” At the end of the day, FFP takes the time to understand each client’s specific situation and build a unique financial plan around that. Tim believes this process is the core value add they offer clients.
“One of the [value add] things for us, especially this year, has been just being somebody to listen to what’s going on in the client’s life. And a lot of being an advisor is just that. Sometimes the client just wants somebody to walk them through significant decisions or be an extra ear for them when times are uncertain.”
With a strong client base and operations running smoothly, FFP is positioned for continued scaling. As Tim said, “the firm has been growing at a steady pace organically, but we’re entering a new phase where we’re turning our eye to active business development.” FFP’s unique client service approach and digital operations give them the competitive edge they need to expand their business well into the future by consistent, quality client service.
About Foothills Financial Planning
Foothills Financial Planning was started in the Ahwatukee Foothills of Phoenix with the simple mission of providing high quality, commission-free financial planning. If you are an individual or small business that is looking for professional, objective financial advice, come learn how we can help you make personalized financial decisions that make sense for you.
Our fee-only financial planning advice provides ongoing investment management with no incentive to buy specific products. You receive independent, objective financial advice from an advisor whose interests are aligned with your own.
As a fee-only advisor, Foothills Financial Planning is held to a fiduciary standard. That means we must provide objective financial advice that is in the best interests of our clients. It is our legal obligation. Unlike most financial advisors, we operate independently and don’t receive commissions for selling specific products, so our recommendations are based solely on your needs. We do our best to avoid all conflicts of interest, so we can remain focused on your future. Visit Foothills Financial Planning’s website today to learn more.