A Year of Success, Growth and Client Relationships

Peter K. HooverDecember 27, 2017

HFA News

Wow! 2017 has been a fabulous year!  Generally, our clients have made a lot of money this year, the stock and bond markets have done great, the US economy continues to strengthen, tax reform has become law, our firm has grown, our team got bigger, our technology improved and the list goes on!  However, even with all the great things that happened both at HFA and in our country, we owe all our personal success to our clients.  You are our most important asset and our guiding principles of providing the best possible service to our clients, always doing what’s in our client’s best interest and going beyond what is asked of us will continue to drive our future success. We are always grateful to our clients for their continued support, loyalty and referrals.   

The top headline of 2017 is the merger of HFA with Villanova Financial Services (VFS), a thriving family firm founded by Will Mullin. Will and I talked and dreamed about a partnership for a long time and everyone is delighted with the smooth transition. As a result of the merger, HFA is a stronger and more robust financial planning firm. We opened 2017 with $565 million in combined assets under management. That figure now exceeds $800 million.

We currently have 22 employees to serve clients. This includes five certified financial planners. Our 2017 additions include Mary Ostien, CFP®, Brian Fisher and Mary Pat Finn from VFS. We also welcomed Robert Dowd, Jr. and Craig Eppler to HFA this year. Rob was a research financial associate at the Wilmington, Delaware, office of Kelmar Associates, LLC, before joining us. Craig was a Derivatives Analyst at Vanguard, where he began his career as a Research Analyst Intern in the Fixed Income Group.

Our home grew as well. We acquired an additional 2,520 square feet of additional office space. More than 100 clients attended an open house last month to tour the new space and meet the new employees from VFS. Enthusiastic approval echoed from floor to floor, office to office.

The popular Lunch & Learn programs and our blog also met with positive response. We have close to 900 subscribers and were able to add 26 original educational articles to the blog in 2017.  Informative Lunch & Learn topics included: 7 Estate Planning Mistakes to Avoid, Medicare and College Planning. Blogs explored a wide range of themes, including Schwab cybersecurity resources, teaching financial planning fundamentals to children, retirement savings plans for the self-employed, bitcoins, smart beta portfolio rebalancing and whether or not to set goals.

Staff members, too, enhanced their knowledge. Rob was awarded his Master’s degree in business administration, taxation and financial planning from Widener University. Jerry Fahey, CFP® earned the IRS Enrolled Agent (EA) designation, which is among the highest credentials awarded by the Internal Revenue Service. Thomas Balis completed the second of three parts in the CFA (Chartered Financial Analyst) program, with a goal of having the third exam completed in 2018.  Several of our existing advisors are currently completing studies for their certified financial planner credentials. A few employees have taken tax classes in preparation for 2018. A number of staff members attended educational conferences and participated in webinars. I shared valuable industry information with peers as I concluded my term as a member of the Schwab Advisor Services Advisory Board.  Our team is always focused on education with the goals of staying abreast with the latest tools, trends and technology.

HFA continues to update technology and our website to better serve clients, as well. This year, we added Navigator, which is a very impressive user-friendly financial planning software. The interactive program, which is extremely flexible, offers daily updates. A big bonus to clients is the integration of investment and planning software to communicate. Some clients who are already taking advantage of Navigator have given us excellent reports. Tamarac, our client portal, recently completed improvements to its vault storage system, organization and ease of client data, which will be a big focus in client reviews in 2018. 

HFA introduced its new website hfaplanning.com domain in 2017. The change was made to reflect our personnel growth and versatility of skills and expertise. Important information, background and services of HFA and its staff are quickly accessible. In addition, blogs, newsletters and educational resources provide helpful insight concerning numerous timely subjects. Prospective clients have the opportunity to complete and submit individual data forms to the company for an immediate response and appointment.

Our commitment to the community was stronger than ever. We provided financial support and sweat equity to our charity of record, Chester County Food Bank. Several staff members worked in the food bank’s kitchen, while others harvested various vegetables at Pete’s Produce farm. With generous contributions from HFA clients and vendors, we contributed more than $17,000 to the organization, which exceeded our annual goal. Since we adopted the food bank in 2012, we have donated $84,825. We thank all of you who joined us in this rewarding endeavor.

Instead of an employee gift exchange, this month HFA adopted a family with four children for the holiday season through a new relationship with Volunteers of America. We had great fun shopping for toys and gifts to brighten the holidays for a family who is struggling.

As I look back over a year that has both impressed and humbled me, I see a vibrant family business filled with people who place their client families first and foremost. Family. That makes all the difference. HFA is not just a family business, but the business of families. Helping families reach their goals and realize the dreams they worked so hard for is what HFA is all about. Of course we prepare financial and estate plans, financial forecasts, insurance solutions and income tax strategies. But every task, each suggestion and all guidance is wrapped around the essence of family and its individual members. What is best for today and tomorrow? Is this the right path to a desired lifestyle? How can we insure heirs are and will continue to be comfortable?  Our new partnership is dedicated to providing the families it serves with well-thought out and executed programs that respond to these and other questions and objectives.

We learned at the open house just how much personal encounters mean to you. As I indicated in the opening of this blog, meeting with clients throughout the year is an essential service component. A component that enriches our company. Your trust and ongoing support are the backbone of HFA and for this, we thank you. We look ahead to 2018 backed with vibrant personal energy reinforced with sophisticated tools and technology. And – of course – that personal touch.

Happy holidays to you and your families and all the best as we enter 2018.  We are lucky to work with you and look forward to continuing to be of service.  Thank you for your continued support.