After months of pouring over nominations, Retirement Advisor rolls out the annual Advisor of the Year finalists.
In making our selections, we looked at multiple categories.
Name: William L. Danner
Years in industry: 17
Company: Security First Asset Management
Location: Dublin, Ga.
2013 Total Sales: $10,991,000
Licenses/designations: LUTCF, CSA, NSSA, Series 6, 7, 63 and 65
Before becoming an advisor, William Danner worked in the wholesale and retail home furnishing industry. As an executive VP, one of his responsibilities was managing human resources, including the development of employees' 401(k)s and retirement plans. "I thought, 'Wow, this is kind of fun," he recalls with a laugh. When a change in senior leadership led to a pink slip for Danner and several other employees, "I walked out the door with my severance and started my licensing classes and never looked back. I wonder why I didn't do it before."
Name: Greg Hammer
Years in industry: 22
Company: Hammer Financial Group, Inc.
Location: Schererville, Ind.
2013 Total Sales: $25 million
Licenses/designations: Series 6, 63 and 65 securities licenses.
In 2004, shortly after he opened the doors to Hammer Financial Group in the Chicago, Ill. metropolitan area, Greg Hammer met with a senior couple who came to his office for assistance with their financial planning. They were in their early 70s, running out of money and debating whether they should go back to work. After reviewing their financial situation, Hammer came to the realization that it was too late to undo the poor planning and bad advice they had received earlier in their retirement. "When they told me the amount of assets they started retirement with, I was shocked!" he says. "Had they had proper planning, they would have never been put in that position —and that resonated with me. It was then that I decided to focus my business on seniors and those moving into retirement."
Name: Jason Michael Jenkins
Years in industry: 15 years
Company: Jenkins Wealth Management Group
Location: Denver, Colorado
2013 Total Sales: $44,000,000
Designations: Series 65, life/health licensed, MBA
Guiding seniors into retirement is not only a career for Jason Michael Jenkins, MBA; it is also a passion. Jenkins, partner and co-founder of Denver, Co.-based Jenkins Wealth Management Group, has a knack for leadership and making an impact on his clientele, 90 percent of whom are seniors. He was drawn to the senior market by the opportunity to re-educate the generation on their ideas of risk, since the economic climate has changed dramatically during their lifetimes.
Jenkins gets to the heart of the many emotional issues surrounding money by asking what he believes are the two most important questions: How much risk can you afford, and how much risk are you willing to take? “Willingness is everything,” Jenkins says, “and there is a big gap trying to connect these two answers.”
Name: Jay LaMalfa
Years in industry: 30 years
Company: MACRO Consulting Group
Location: Parsippany, New Jersey
2013 Total Sales: $25,300,000
Designations: CFP®, CLTC
Jay LaMalfa, CFP®, CLTC entered the world of retirement advising by way of auto and homeowner claims. He was asked to come in and interview after handling the claim for a Prudential sales manager, who was impressed by his timeliness and courteous disposition. LaMalfa, partner of Parsippany, N.J.-based MACRO Consulting Group, has carried on for 30 years and has no plans to retire any time soon.
When LaMalfa was born, his father was over 40 and his mother not far behind. As the son of Depression-era parents, he has firsthand knowledge of the mature investor’s needs and concerns associated with retirement — and how things can go wrong. LaMalfa’s mother was diagnosed with polio at the age of three, and because of this disability, she could not qualify for long-term care insurance. Later in life, she needed care, and LaMalfa and his siblings supported her. “My mom was a wonderful person who would literally do anything for you,” he says, “but she felt like she was a burden to people and psychologically. That was difficult for her and the whole family.”
Name: Philip Rousseaux
Years in industry: 19 years
Company: Everest Wealth Management
Location: Towson, Maryland
2013 Total Sales: $31,000,000
Designations: ChFC®, CIMA®, RICP®
Philip Rousseaux stumbled into his career as a retirement advisor by happy mistake while studying economics in college. After completing two internships with investment firms based on the advice of a professor, Rousseaux, ChFC®, CIMA®, RICP® fell in love with the entrepreneurial spirit of the industry. Twenty years later, he credits his tenacity for the success of his Towson, Md.-based retirement income planning firm.