Adam Gulin likes to compare his financial planning business to a doctor visit.
“We’re very, very determined to do the examination first before we have anybody do anything,” he says.
The founder and president at Safe Harbor Financial Planning Group says that if you go to the doctor and you don’t already know what ails you, that doctor would need to do some investigating, run a few tests. He says his same tailored approach to a client is what sets his firm apart from the crowd.
“One of the things that makes us unique is we leave no stone unturned,” he says. “We get all the way down to people’s budgets.”
More than 30 years ago, a car accident forced Gulin to abandon his previous job. Unsure of his next move, Gulin called about a position as a Medicare agent in Austin, Texas. It was just a random ad in the newspaper, but the career change proved successful. After becoming agent of the year, he later moved to Wichita, where he then ventured into the financial planning industry. He moved to Kansas City in 1996 and has since been involved with a few local firms. He founded Safe Harbor in 2010.
The firm’s core services are financial planning, investment management and estate planning, but other services also include tax preparation, life insurance and annuities. The staff are also chartered federal employee benefits consultants and specialize in working with both federal agencies and employees.
With a strong focus on goal setting and paying off debt, the ideal Safe Harbor client, Gulin says, is not one just focused on making some quick money.
“I would say that there’s a big separation between a financial advisor versus a financial planning firm like ours,” he says. “We are all-encompassing, full-service. And our primary focus is planning first, buy stuff later.”
With one part-time and three full-time employees—plus an estate planning attorney coming later this year—the staff of Safe Harbor spends a lot of its time reconfiguring plans that don’t fit the clients’ individual needs. Gulin estimates that 99 percent of new clients come to Safe Harbor with financial plans that are nowhere close to appropriate for their age and risk level. Many clients have no idea, for example, why they bought the type and amount of life insurance that they currently have.
“We take what most people do as guessing and we put it into reality,” he says. “By the time we’re done with them, everything is set up in such a way that they have no worries.”
While the average clients at Safe Harbor are in their mid-50s, Gulin recommends people start building their financial plan while still in their 30s.
Through the talent of his staff, he says—plus a soothing office environment—his firm doubled its business last year and expects more of the same in 2013.
“Our staff is exceptionally good at handling people and doing the right things,” he says. “Putting people at ease because we do comprehensive planning is a real mainstay of ours.”
Open by appointment, the advisers have also been known to make house calls to serve their clients better. The Safe Harbor website at SafeHarborFPG.com also hosts a number of educational videos, planning tips and the latest financial news.
“Our clients don’t leave us because we dig hard and deep and try to give them an understanding and ideas of how to make their financial life better and more prosperous and make sure they’re not making a lot of inordinate mistakes that most people make,” Gulin says.
“We’re really, really good at this.”
Safe Harbor is located at 5756 N. Broadway in Kansas City, Mo., and can be reached at 816.454.7240.