Northwest Business Magazine

Success Story: Forthright Financial Planning

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Chad Henry builds a close relationship with clients, and his process of managing a investments has helped him to build a solid reputation. Learn how he’s become a trusted coach for many who are planning retirement.

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Chad Henry loves to compare his investment business to coaching youth football. The president of Forthright Financial Planning coaches and mentors Little League football in his hometown of Genoa, Ill.

“I think of myself as a financial coach for my clients,” he says. “I try to instill some of the best lessons in my business that I learned from my coaches when I played football. The keys in sports are the same as in business – overcoming adversity, being a team player, working well with others, setting goals and never giving up. I set personal and team goals for every client. I do that with my football team as well.”

Born and raised in Dixon, Ill., Henry attended Rock Valley College and graduated from Western Illinois University with a double major in business and law enforcement. He came back home and lives with his wife, Mary Ann, and their three children, Nathan, Leah and Abby, in Genoa. Mary Ann also works at Forthright Financial Planning, handling marketing duties.

Henry started his professional career as a probation officer, but didn’t feel like he was making an impact on his clients; he left to pursue other opportunities. “I was seeing the same people coming back after committing crime after crime,” he says. “I wasn’t reaching them.”

Henry opted to put his business degree to use. He cut his teeth at Edward Jones investment for four years, before launching his own investment firm. “Edward Jones has a great culture,” he says. “It was an awesome place to train and get my start.”

These days, Henry is an independent financial advisor with Sigma Financial Corporation, based in Ann Arbor, Mich. He’s had a presence in Rockford for years and recently opened an office in Sycamore, at 352 ½ W. State St.

“Giving great customer service and follow-up is at the forefront of our team,” Henry says. “We need to keep in close contact with our clients to know when their goals, time horizon, risk tolerance or situation changes. We pride ourselves on building a close relationship with our clients through ongoing telephone conversations and regular face-to-face meetings. Service and open communication are key in exceeding client goals.”

Henry recently changed the name of his company to Forthright Financial Planning, which reflects his business philosophy. He also added Troy Oates as his partner. Forthright Financial Planning focuses on estate planning, retirement planning, portfolio design, social security strategies and retirement income planning.

“Every advisor has similar tools – stocks, bonds, mutual funds,” Henry says. “Not everyone wants a portfolio that is 100 percent correlated and fully exposed to the stock market.” Henry says most clients want consistency more than home runs. “For many clients, it’s about more than just investments. There are many major decisions that retirees need to make that could impact them for the rest of their lives, and they need experienced guidance as they go down the retirement path.

“To differentiate yourself as an advisor, you need to build a process,” he adds. “It’s centered on actively managing the client’s portfolio. I’ve spent 15 years working on the process.”

A majority of Henry’s clients are business owners, teachers, law enforcement officers, fire fighters, or employees of major corporations such as Woodward and United Technologies. “It’s a diverse group of people,” he says. “Many are close to or have retired. Unfortunately, that’s when most people really start to think seriously about developing a retirement plan. You have to have a plan. If the market does A, you need to do B. Most people worry because they don’t have a plan.”

When Henry meets with a new client, the process begins with five one-hour meetings to review a checklist that includes action items such as power of attorney, property and casual insurance coverage, long-term care, retirement income planning, life insurance coverage, managing social security benefits, developing a survivor’s guide and protecting from identity theft, to name a few of the 25 topics covered.

“We cover things that most advisors don’t,” Henry says. “I think that earns us respect. I can’t tell you how many people I sit down with who are ready to retire but don’t have a will and trust, don’t have a strategy to draw social security, don’t have a grasp on how much their portfolio may produce or even know how to pick their own Medicare supplement insurance.”

Henry has established a solid reputation within the investment industry. He recently traveled to Dallas to speak at a Horsemouth Savvy Social Security Maximization training workshop for 200 advisors from across the country.

When searching for a financial advisor, Henry recommends treating the process like a job interview. He suggests talking to at least five investors before making a final decision. “Ask for their credentials,” says Henry, who earned his CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professional certification (CFP®) at DePaul University. “The initials after their name do mean something. Another certification is Accredited Investment Fiduciary™ (AIF®). We are held to the highest standards in the industry. All of our training is geared towards giving clients the best and most advanced strategies to help meet their goals in a timely fashion.”

In addition to asking for referrals from current clients, Henry encourages prospective clients to visit brokercheck.com, where they can find information on advisors such as bankruptcies, DUI, or any type of complaints, founded or unfounded. “It’s important in this day in age,” he says. “It may sway your decision whether you use them. If they can’t manage their own money, they’re probably not qualified to manage your money.”

Another indicator of a sound investment firm is one that takes a team approach. “No matter how good someone is, you want four or five good people behind him,” Henry says. “There is no one person who has all the answers in this business. The financial world is so multi-faceted and moves so fast these days, you need a team of professionals to come up with the best results. The name on the door matters less than the individual or team you work with locally. You should see their succession plan in writing. Too many advisors and sole practitioners do not have a signed business succession plan to protect their clients. I think it’s important to have that team and know exactly who will take over and that it is someone you have a relationship with, not a stranger.”

Forthright Financial consists of five local professionals, with various levels of experience and responsibilities. Like Henry, many members of his team live in Genoa, where they volunteer for the Pop Warner football and cheer league that Henry founded. Currently, there are 110 kids involved in the program. “Most of my staff has been involved as coach, board member or mentor,” Henry says. “They have the passion to do what is right.”

Every year the youth football league volunteers to support a charitable cause. Last year, they raised $1,200 for breast cancer awareness and research. This year, the teams are supporting programs related to pediatric cancer and juvenile diabetes. The mission of the league, for children ages 6-13, is to teach children life lessons through sports.

“We instruct the kids on issues such as teamwork and overcoming adversity,” Henry says. “We help them set goals on the field. I’m also coaching them the same way I’m coaching my clients to reach or exceed their goals when it comes to investing.

“Whether I’m a financial investor, coach or probation officer, I like helping people and putting them in good situations,” he adds. “What goes around comes around. You never know when you’re going to need help from a stranger, whether it’s a life, health or money issue. I believe in paying it forward.”

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