Saturday, May 12, 2007

Genius Business Plan, Fee-Only Pioneer - Dan Danford leads the way for other fiduciary advisors

Most of the genius behind Family Investment Center is in the business model.

In the mid-1990s, founder Dan Danford foresaw several important trends which would eventually transform investment services. Today, national firms and publications are discussing these very same trends, but - by now - Family Investment Center has a ten-year jumpstart on much of the industry.

The essence of those trends was better information. Consumer information about investment products, services and fees. New technologies that would boost investor independence and reduce costs. New freedoms to gather high-quality advice separate from any particular product or firm. Dan envisioned a brave new world of investing, and few others even saw it coming.

These trends brought important new value to consumers:

* Pricing divorced from commissions or transaction fees
* Expertise and advice from quality (non-sales) investment professionals
* Access to institutional investment products and services
* Ongoing discretionary investment management for people wanting or needing it
* Convenience and service from a local office
* Genuine fiduciary responsibility to clients

Family Investment Center was deliberately designed around these values. Dan wrote a brilliant business plan before this new look of investment management was readily apparent. Cleary, his vision surpassed that of colleagues, peers, and industry observers. One former colleague famously (and erroneously) told a client “Dan won’t survive six months.” Ten years later, that prediction (and that predictor) sound pretty foolish.

Instead, Dan’s vision and entrepreneurial impulses were right on target and Family Investment Center thrived almost from the start. Today, the St. Joseph firm is among the top five percent of Registered Investment Advisors nationwide, serving hundreds of families and other clients from Northwest Missouri.

Dan is passionate about the business model and fee-only investing. He has written two books and hundreds of industry articles on fees and related topics. He is widely recognized for his energy and vision as an advisor. The national media often quotes him, including Kiplinger’s magazine, the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, and the Kansas City Star. He’s very good.

The genius, though, lies in the local business model he pioneered. I firmly believe Family Investment Center represents the future of investment management. It’s very dynamic to watch it grow.

Family Investment Center is a “Best Practice” firm and deserves a spot on my all-star roster of leading and pioneering firms. I’ve been working with independent financial advisors for nearly twenty years and Dan’s firm is among the best at what they do. Other advisors would be well advised to study Family Investment Center’s business model and deliverables – and to adopt these Best Practice principles in their businesses.

Danford (left) with partners

Jason White (center) and Gary Meyers (right)