Beyond planning, to caring
Helping people plan their financial future isn't just a job to University of Nevada, Reno graduates Kyle McCann and Benson Mathews. It's a privilege. A responsibility. A calling.
"We want our clients to understand what is going on, understand their plan, understand their investments," McCann said. It's this belief in the importance of clear, honest, straightforward and ethical financial planning that brought McCann and Mathews together to form a new firm: Vantage Wealth Planning.
"Our passion has always been doing the planning that gets people to a better place in their lives," Mathews said.
Becoming a financial planning team has been an aspiration for both McCann and Mathews for a long time. They've been friends since middle school, attended McQueen High School and were roommates while McCann completed his undergraduate degree in finance at The College of Business at the University of Nevada, Reno.
"My time at the university gave me the knowledge, tools, skills, and ethics to build my career," said McCann, who also served as the president of the College of Business Alumni Association from 2015-2016. "The business school's emphasis on integrity helped form my standards and has stayed with me every day."
After McCann completed his master's degree in finance from The College of Business in 2005, the two friends stayed connected as their careers took McCann to Cincinnati and Mathews to Seattle.
"We were always bouncing ideas off each other-trying to figure out the best industry standard or the best way to approach a specific planning technique," Mathews said. "We're both so like-minded from a planning perspective, and we've always had it in the back of our minds that it would be a wonderful opportunity for us to form a business together."
Vantage Wealth Planning differentiates itself by focusing on three key aspects: fiduciary responsibility, a fee-only structure, and Certified Financial Planner accreditation.
Both McCann and Mathews are fiduciaries and have a legal responsibility to act in the best interests of their clients and to put their clients' interests above their own.
"This isn't just a legal requirement for us," Mathews said. "It is part of our DNA."
The fiduciary standard for McCann and Mathews is different from the suitability rule under which other financial brokers operate. For example, according to the fiduciary standard, an advisor is prohibited from recommending investments that may result in higher commissions for the advisor or his or her investment firm.
On the other hand, the suitability rule only requires that brokers make recommendations they reasonably believe to be suitable for the client. The broker does not have to place his or her interests below that of the client.
This may sound like a nuance in language, but it can mean the difference between getting average financial planning advice and having a trusted planner make the right decisions for a client's unique situation. Another big difference is that under the suitability rule, a broker's duty is to the broker-dealer he or she works for, not necessarily the client served. Under the fiduciary standard, the advisor is bound to the client.
To truly fulfill their fiduciary responsibilities, McCann and Mathews founded Vantage to be a fee-only firm. They charge a flat rate instead of taking compensation from commissions on investment transactions.
"Basically, it takes a biased, conflicted situation off the table entirely because it doesn't matter to us what specific products our clients are invested in," McCann said. "What matters to us is that our clients are in the right product or mix of products to achieve their goals."
While fee-only firms are relatively uncommon in Reno, McCann and Mathews both experienced the benefits of this type of compensation structure during their more than two decades of combined experience.
"We want there to be clarity," Mathews said. "Our clients know upfront what they're paying us and don't have to worry whether our recommendations are in their best interest or not. We are sitting on the same side of the table."
The final piece of Vantage's value system is the Certified Financial Planner accreditation. Both McCann and Mathews are recognized by the Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards, and as such completed extensive training and experience requirements and are held to rigorous ethical standards. This puts both men in a small, elite category of financial planning professionals-there are only 315 Certified Financial Planner practitioners in the state of Nevada.
"This distinction is more than a certificate on a wall-it's an assurance of quality and ethics," Mathews said.
As Certified Financial Planners, both McCann and Mathews take a long-range look at their client's financial strategy.
"Is your advisor doing more than simply allocating your portfolio?" Mathews asked. "Are they thinking about things like your estate and legacy plan? Are they focusing on how you're going to get your income once you retire? Are they planning for the unforeseen, the what-ifs in life? Are they truly doing comprehensive financial planning? We look at our clients' entire picture and how the pieces work together."
With those three principles in place, McCann and Mathews are excited to launch Vantage and provide a high level of service to their clients.
"Vantage allows us the ability to provide objective, thoughtful, independent advice to individuals with the backing of very seasoned organizations," McCann said. "We've partnered with larger organizations such as Morningstar Investment Services and Schwab Institutional, which will allow us to leverage their expertise in certain areas. We're a team."
With those resources in place, McCann and Mathews are ready for the opportunity to work together full-time, helping people plan for a secure and comfortable future.
"We go the extra mile and the more difficult route because it is what is in our clients' best interest," McCann said. "It is what is going to ultimately allow them to achieve their most important goals: Their peace of mind and the ability to go and do what they want to do in retirement without having to worry."