Planning for a stable financial future is imperative to quality of life.
Consumer costs continuously rise and economic uncertainties can put a burden on how we live.
It’s never too early to start planning for retirement. Fortunately, throughout the Greater Lehigh Valley, there are many financial consultants and investment advisers to help you get started.
Here to answer this week’s “Behind the List” questions is Eric Wilby, president of Ascent Wealth Management in Upper Macungie Township.
Lehigh Valley Business: How long has Ascent Wealth Management been operating in the region and what are its primary services?
Eric Wilby: Ascent Wealth Management was established in December 2013, however I’ve been in the financial services since January 2000.
Our office works with investors focused on maximizing the tax efficiency of their investments and maximizing income from their personal savings through comprehensive financial plans.
Another important part of our business is working with small businesses to manage their employee retirement plans which are typically 401k plans or simple IRA [individual retirement account] plans.
LVB: What have been some of the biggest challenges and opportunities that Ascent Wealth Management has encountered throughout its years in business?
Wilby: I think the answer here is navigating clients through the market volatility of 2000-2002 and more recently 2007-2009.
The greatest opportunities have been making the decision to open my own office and then last year making the purchase of another local adviser and bringing that team into my business model.
LVB: How does Ascent Wealth Management directly stimulate the local economy? Does it work solely in the Lehigh Valley or does it expand into other markets?
Wilby: One of the things I find is that investors are often hesitant to spend their savings for fear of running out of money. By working with our clients and implementing a solid financial plan, our clients can feel confident in planning their retirement budget and spending their money locally.
We have offices in Schuylkill County as well as Lehigh County and we’re about to buy a building inside Allentown city limits to increase our Lehigh Valley presence and our capacity to grow and hire more staff.
LVB: What credentials and licenses have to be obtained to become an investment adviser representative, Certified Financial Planner or asset manager?
Wilby: In my opinion a financial adviser should have minimum credentials of Series 66 and Series 7 licenses.
Having special designations like CFP are important. However, my opinion is that experience and track record is the most valuable attribute of an adviser.
Investors should always refer to the FINRA [Financial Industry Regulatory Authority] website and check their adviser’s record at www.brokercheck.finra.org.
LVB: What does the future look like for Ascent Wealth Management? Does it have plans for growth?
Wilby: The future is extremely exciting at AWM. As I said earlier, we are looking to expand our office space in the Lehigh Valley and grow the business through client outreach and community involvement.
In addition to our own organic growth, the percentage of advisers in the financial services industry over age 60 is exceptionally high. There’s going to be a need for experienced successful teams to fill the void that will be created when those advisers ultimately decide to retire.
And with three of the four licensed advisers at AWM being under age 50 and already a combined 70 years of experience, we are perfectly positioned to fill this need.