A TIP TO KNOW IF YOU HAVE ENOUGH MONEY
NEED HELP WITH A QUESTION?
Mark Stevens – Certified Financial Planner™
My college career was probably similar to what others experienced who were not quite sure what they were really good at or passionate about. It wasn’t until I took a class at GA State University that I realized I actually could get all A’s if the material was interesting enough to me.
MORE ABOUT MARK
For me, “Introduction to Finance” was so fun. It was easy and was pretty much the sole reason I changed my major to Finance. This milestone set me on my career path to becoming a financial advisor a few short years after graduation from GSU in 1988. Not only that, but this introduction was a watershed moment that became life-changing for me and, eventually, my clients. I feel very fortunate and blessed to have found my calling early on.
My first job after graduating from college was in the mortgage industry. It was too transactional for me, so I left after two years. I had the good fortune of being recruited into an Atlanta financial services firm that emphasized comprehensive financial planning.
My foundation was set from the start with good training and mentorship. I focused on successfully completing industry exams and gained licenses for insurance, annuities, stocks, bonds, and mutual funds.
This fundamental education led to earning my Chartered Financial Consultant¹ designation through American College followed by earning my CFP® professional designation² at the College for Financial Planning. Each of these designations is centered on the best ways to plan for clients’ financial needs and a solid future.
The scope of these licenses and certifications were of great value to me and my clients because I didn’t want to be like some financial advisors I’d heard about and observed that didn’t do much more than the minimum to pass exams for a license so they could sell products for a living. I felt that clients deserve a broad consideration of strategies and solutions based on a time-tested planning philosophy. The value of these achievements and my education remains relevant today.
Furthermore, I discovered what motivated me most was diving deep and seeing many possible solutions to the client’s needs. I relished how their challenges and goals appeared very similar on the surface but upon closer examination, different solutions were more appropriate. Comprehensive planning reveals that everyone is quite unique.
As I advanced in my career, I noticed that to provide advice that was not unduly influenced by a broker-dealer for clients, I needed to become independent. So, in 2004, I helped co-found Integrated Financial Group with about 25 other independent advisors. We wanted to have as much leeway as possible outside the influence of the domain of insurance or investment-owned financial service companies. IFG has been recognized by the Atlanta Business Chronicle as a Top 25 Firm 2004-2019³. IFG has also been recognized by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as the AJC Top Workplaces- 2015-2019⁴. Additionally, I have received the 5-Star Wealth Manager Award⁵ in 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018 & 2019.
Most recently, I went through a business development program which helped me rethink and devise a new program that is the culmination of all my 25 plus years in financial services. This program includes a 6-Step Planning and Implementation process. I merged this process with personalized retirement income generation using The Income for Life Model™. This combination really helps me guide clients toward a realistic income in retirement. Consequently, I now focus most of my time helping those within just a few years of retirement best understand how they can prepare to live a confident retirement and worry less about running out of money.
In 2010, I co-founded the Atlanta Wealth Care Network⁶. This is an organization centered on helping our members’ clients learn to do more independently, while also making it easy to connect with other professionals when help is needed. This is incredibly valuable to me because I pride myself on being as comprehensive as possible when helping clients. But, of course, I can’t be an expert in everything, so WCN makes it much easier to set my clients on a path to help live their best life.
I like to think I am living my best life possible with Melanie, my wife, our golden retriever, Fletch, and my three teenage sons from my previous marriage, where we are all active in our church and community.
I love being outdoors— in fact, I thrive outdoors – whether that be working around the house landscaping our yard, playing golf, or off somewhere on my mountain bike. Melanie and I love to travel, play tennis, snow ski, hike, or take in sites and unique experiences of each destination. When we are not doing any of these things, we love spending time with family and friends, especially if it involves college football, a boat, a lake, or a mountain cabin.
¹Obtained designation from the American College of Financial Services. ID 1194869. Conferred on 2/1/1997 maintained through 2017 – no longer renewing recertification.
²Obtained designation from Certified Financial Planner Board. CFP Board ID 61749. 9/10/1998-7/31/2020.
³Based on assets under advisement
⁵ Five Star Professional Manager Award based on 10 objective criteria associated with providing quality services to clients such as credentials, experience and assets under management among other factors. Wealth managers do not pay a fee to be considered or placed on the final list of 2012, 2014, 2016, 2018, 2019 Five Star Wealth Managers.