Chamber members Lance Alston, CFP® and Tiffany Finney-Johnson, CFP® of New Dimensions Wealth Management, LLC, share their business insights.
What inspired you to start your business?
Lance: The Banking Crisis of 2008 was my motivator to start New Dimensions. In the fall of 2008, I sold my financial planning partnership and took a sabbatical. I didn’t know it at the time, but the global economy was only weeks away from the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. I traveled a lot and interviewed people in the industry to get their perspective on what we were going through. It was unprecedented and terrifying.
A year and a half later I started New Dimensions with a plan to build a financial planning firm for the 21st Century: low investing costs, complete transparency, comprehensive financial planning and no conflicts of interest.
What services or products do you offer?
We start every client relationship with a comprehensive financial plan. We believe you cannot possibly invest someone’s money without a deep understanding of their financial situation. For most of our clients, we also provide on-going portfolio management using a fee-only business model. We don’t sell products, receive commissions or work for anyone but our clients.
What is unique about your business?
Our focus on financial planning. Most firms are more interested in the investing part. Honestly, we believe successful investing should be boring. Our goals for a portfolio are consistency, diversification and low cost – that’s it. Financial planning, on the other hand, is unique for every family and can change dramatically from year to year.
How does your business give back to the community?
We believe the best way to give back to the community is by sharing our talents for financial planning through pro bono work. Our pro bono focus is on women in transitional stages of life like divorce, the death of a spouse, and single moms. The need is so great in that segment of the population and some basic financial planning can make such a difference in their lives.
What obstacles did you have to overcome to get where are today?
We need more transparency in the industry and every advisor should be held to a fiduciary standard –always acting in the clients’ best interests and disclosing any conflicts of interest. That would go a long way toward rebuilding the industry reputation.
What methods have you used to grow your business?
We recently published a book, Wealthfulness, that summarizes our core philosophy. Wealth should mean much more than having lots of money. Health, wealth and happiness – that’s the essence of healthfulness. We believe our business will continue to grow as long as consumers become more financially aware. The more they understand about the financial industry, the more our low-cost, financial planning focused business model makes sense. That’s why we wrote the book.
What is the secret to keeping happy customers?
We want to stay focused on our core business. We add value by emphasizing financial planning, telling clients exactly what they should expect and how much they’ll pay, then consistently meeting those promises.
Who has been your greatest inspiration?
Lance: John Bogle, found of The Vanguard Group, and syndicated columnist Scott Burns from the DallasMorning News. John and Scott have been the two guiding lights during my career and their wisdom lies at the core of our firm’s mission. They both, in their own way, have told the simple truths about investing when no one was listening. Now, 40 years later, consumers are finally catching on and the trend is unstoppable.
Tiffany: Our clients. Seeing the impact financial planning has made in their lives confirms our firm is focused on the right areas. I love hearing that they don’t worry when they see the news headlines because they know their plan is on track and we have prepared for the ups and the downs.
What is your most/least favorite thing about your business?
Our favorite part of financial planning is telling someone on the verge of retirement that they’re going to be just fine. We love to see them go on trips, spend their savings and enjoy their families. That’s the point of all their hard work, but oftentimes the transition to retirement is a bit unsettling. We want to help them enjoy all that they worked for.
Our least favorite part of the business is the constant battle to safeguard client accounts and personal information. Protecting against identity theft must remain a high priority for the firm and for clients individually. The extra measures can be inconvenient, but they’re necessary.
Where do you see your business going in the future?
We want to continue providing high-quality financial planning. Our goal is to create a firm that people from all stages of life and all stages of wealth can access. Financial planning is the best thing you can do for your future and we truly believe that everyone needs it.
To what do you attribute your success?
Keeping our message simple and letting our services and value tell the story.
How are you involved in the chamber and what is the effect on your business?
Over the years we’ve participated in many of their programs including LINKS, Experience McKinney, new resident bag stuffing, new member marketing events and regular luncheon updates on the city and economy. We value the Chamber because they keep us connected and updated with what’s going on in our community.
What’s the best advice you would give a new chamber member to get the most out of their membership?
Start out with a mindset to give every possible membership benefit a try. Try the LINKS breakfast meetings – they will definitely make you laugh and feel welcome; attend the luncheons to get more connected to your community; consider committing the time to Experience McKinney or LeadershipMcKinney; try the bag stuffing for new residents if that works for your business. There are SO many ways to become involved with the Chamber, but they all start with your decision to say “yes”.
Lastly, you should know going into any event that the chamber members will be welcoming. It’s a community that naturally wants to help you make connections and grow your business.