Focus Financial Advisors is an independently-owned investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission.
We offer investment management and comprehensive financial planning on a fiduciary, fee-only basis.
Today we are proud to be celebrating our 29th year of providing objective, independent, and unbiased financial services to our clients.
Our firm was founded in 1984 by Bob Lawrenz. At that time, we did business under his name, as Robert Lawrenz Consulting Services. From the very beginning, we worked on a fee-only basis, refusing commissions and other incentives. The firm initially provided investment advice and asset allocation models to clients, who would bring the plans to their brokers for implementation. Our current owner and company president, Fred Raffety, joined Bob's firm in 1987. Together, Bob and Fred continued to work under the business model that Bob had established at the firm's onset. As time went by, more and more of their clients requested that Bob and Fred become more directly involved with the management of their investments. These same clients had been expressing dissatisfaction with their brokers, who they saw as being commission-driven, and whose loyalty was to the brokerage firm as opposed to the clients they were serving. In response, Bob and Fred started managing their client's money directly on a discretionary basis as part of each client's comprehensive financial plan.
In 1999, Bob started the process of turning the reigns of the firm over to Fred.
Not long after the transition, Fred made the decision to change the name of the company to Focus Financial Advisors. He also decided to expand the capabilities of the firm by bringing on a team of professionals with complementary skill sets who shared Fred's desire to provide a high level of personal service to people who need financial planning and wealth management. Today the team at Focus remains dedicated to the values established by our founder, and we are more equipped than ever to provide the kind of service that our clients deserve.
CPA, CFP®, Principal & Financial Planner
Jon Aldrich joined Focus Financial Advisors in 2004.
He is primarily involved in portfolio management and investment selection, and he also is active in the financial planning process for our clients. After graduating from Rockford West High School, Jon earned his accounting degree from Northern Illinois. Jon is a CPA and a CFP® (Certified Financial Planner). Before joining Focus, Jon worked for a national public accounting firm and was also the Chief Financial Officer of a Rockford based manufacturing company.
Jon and his wife, Tammy, have two sons.
He enjoys golfing, boating, snowmobiling and coaching his son's teams in football, baseball and basketball. He is active in the community, and is currently on the Board of Directors of Northern Illinois Hospice and Grief Center, where he serves as treasurer. Jon also served as treasurer while he was on the board of Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum in Rockford. Jon is a member of several professional organizations, including the Financial Planning Association (FPA), National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA), and the Illinois CPA Society (ICPAS).
Information Technology Specialist & Network Administrator
Janet Prader has been with Focus for 15 years.
Her computer expertise allows us to stay current with ever-changing technologies. She also spends a great deal of time servicing client accounts and placing securities trades. She has lived in the northern Illinois area for over 25 years.
Janet has two adult daughters.
When she is not serving clients at Focus, she spends her spare time golfing, working on her family tree, and collecting memorabilia from the famed Wagon Wheel Resort. Janet also volunteers her time to several area charities.
JD, CFP®, MBA, Owner & Financial Planner
Fred joined Focus in 1987 and became the owner in 1999.
Fred is involved in all aspects of the business, but concentrates most of his time consulting with clients on financial planning and investment matters. Fred is also in charge of fixed income investments and bond laddering. A Minnesota native, Fred has lived in the northern Illinois area for over 30 years. He received his law degree from William Mitchell College of Law, and his Master of Business Administration degree from the University of South Dakota. Fred came to Focus with 24 years of experience in financial services, having served in bank trust departments in Minneapolis, Milwaukee and Belvidere, Illinois.
Fred has previously served as President of both the Belvidere YMCA and Highland Hospital.
He has also served on the board of directors of the Mendelssohn Performing Arts Center, and is a past member of the Rotary Club of Belvidere, and Rockford East Rotary Club. Fred enjoys jazz, classical music, art and travel, and spending time with his grandchildren!
Office Manager & Compliance Manager
Although she wears many hats here at Focus
Martha dedicates most of her time to managing the day-to-day affairs of the office, and making sure that the firm remains in compliance with the myriad of regulations that our industry is subject to. And as all of our clients know, Martha is always willing to help service their accounts. Martha has earned associates degrees in both Business Administration and Accounting, and has taken continuing education classes in financial planning.
Martha is married and has three children, and two grandchildren.
When she is not doting on her granddaughter, she enjoys walking, reading and swimming. Martha is a member of the VFW Ladies Auxiliary, and is involved with Rockford MELD, and organization whose work she feels very strongly about.
The appropriate investment of your assets is a critical part of your overall financial plan. At Focus, we practice a disciplined approach to achieve diversification and to manage risk appropriately on your behalf. Our management of your portfolio will be guided by your investment policy statement. This is a document that we create with you after a detailed review of your entire financial situation. It takes into account your total investment needs, your risk tolerance level, income tax considerations, your goals and dreams, and your unique time horizon.
Our Duty as Fiduciaries
As Fee-Only financial advisors, we have taken a fiduciary oath to act in good faith and to always act in our client's best interest. As fiduciaries, we are also bound to put the interests of our clients ahead of our own. The National Association of Personal Financial Advisors (NAPFA) defines a Fee-Only planner as "one who, in all circumstances, is compensated solely by the client, with neither the advisor nor any related party receiving compensation that is contingent on the purchase or sale of a financial product." Simply put, we will not accept commissions, rebates, awards, finder's fees, bonuses or any other form of compensation for purchasing any investment product on behalf of our clients.
Our Investment Approach
The process begins with in-depth client discussions designed to determine your current situation, needs, goals, timetables, and risk tolerance.
Next, we create an investment policy appropriate to meet your needs and respond to your concerns.
We then assemble a portfolio using a variety of diverse assets
geared toward achieving a reasonable return while minimizing taxes and controlling risk. In addition to holding a diverse basket of equities and fixed income, further portfolio diversification may be achieved by including special asset classes such as commodities, real estate, hedged equity, or other alternative investments.
Where practical, investments that are tax-inefficient are placed in tax-deferred accounts
Where practical, investments that are tax-inefficient are placed in tax-deferred accounts, such as IRAs, where the tax consequences are reduced or eliminated.
Depending on your investment profile and current market conditions
your portfolio will consist of a combination of exchange traded funds (ETFs), index funds, individual bonds and actively managed funds.
Our Investment Philosophy
While we are certainly not in the business of short-term trading
we are also not strictly "buy and hold" investment managers. The buy and hold philosophy, which has been touted in the popular financial press for many years, in our view, has serious drawbacks. Even investors with well-diversified portfolios lost up to 50% or more of their portfolio value during the bear market of 2008 while following this strategy. On the other hand we are not "market timers". Market timing is often referred to as the opposite of Buy and Hold. Adherents to this approach attempt to maximize returns and avoid losses by trying to pinpoint the exact tops and bottoms of markets and individual security prices. We don't believe this is possible, and we are unaware of anyone who has been able make these calls with any consistency.
If we are not purely Buy and Hold managers
and we are not market timers, what are we? Well, our philosophy represents somewhat of a compromise between the two camps. We believe in taking advantage of long-term established trends. We certainly prefer to make long-term investments, but we will reduce market exposures when trends clearly turn down. The goal here is to capture the greater part of a bull market, and avoid the full impact of a bear market.
Our objective is to provide our clients with a reasonable return on their investment
and one that is in line with their needs and goals. We do not believe in getting rich quickly by trading "hot stocks." Rather, our approach is to preserve and grow our clients' money over a period of time using a broad array of assets.
Comprehensive Financial Planning
Comprehensive Financial Planning
True comprehensive financial planning is the act of planning for, and prudently addressing life events. The development and implementation of a comprehensive financial plan is the foundation, or roadmap, to achieving ones goals. The comprehensive plan provides a rock-solid foundation on which a client can build and maintain their financial security. At Focus, we offer true independent and unbiased comprehensive financial planning on a fee-only basis. Based on each client's individual goals and dreams, we help develop and then implement a comprehensive plan that is uniquely tailored to their needs focusing on the following critical areas:
Financial (and Non-Financial) Goal Setting and Goal Achievement
Investment Management and Asset Allocation for enhanced returns
Retirement Planning (including Monte Carlo simulation)
Cash Flow and Savings Analysis
Insurance, Risk Analysis and Risk Reduction
Tax Planning and Effective Tax Reduction Strategies
College Funding (for Children & Grandchildren)
Getting the Most from Executive Compensation and Stock Options
The Six Steps To Success
Many of our clients are surprised at how involved and in-depth our financial planning process is. It is not uncommon for us to meet with our clients several times before the initial plan is complete.
Step 1 Establishing and Defining the Client-Planner Relationship
During the first meeting, it is critical that the planner and client engage in a dialog that clearly defines what is expected of each party. This is a mutual process in which a determination is made as to what services will be provided, and what the cost will be.
Step 2 Gathering Client Data, Including Goals and Dreams
This is the one step in which the client does most of the work. In order for us to create a plan that meets your needs, we need to have a complete understanding of your financial situation, your goals and dreams, your interests and hobbies, your expectations about employment, your risk tolerance level, any anticipated changes in lifestyle, and even the health status of you and your family.
Step 3 Analyzing and Evaluating the Client's Financial Data
At this stage of the process, we review all of the data, documents and other information that you supplied to us in Step 2. We analyze the data to identify strengths and weaknesses in your total financial situation with respect to the achievement of your stated goals and dreams.
Step 4 Developing and Presenting the Financial Planning Recommendations
We use our knowledge and experience, along with sophisticated financial planning software to generate your plan. That plan will identify appropriate techniques for achieving your objectives in light of the current economic environment. These recommended techniques, along with our analysis of your current situation, will be presented to you in a written report at a face-to-face meeting. We will discuss areas which need immediate attention and suggest a timeline for the implementation of the plan.
Step 5 Implementing the Financial Planning Recommendations
The finest financial plan in the world has little value without proper implementation. It is at this point in the process that we actual put your plan into action. If Focus is managing you investments, we would begin allocating your investment assets according to our agreed strategy. We also guide you through the parts of the plan that you can accomplish on your own, and coordinate the efforts of other professionals needed to implement your plan, such as accountants, estate planning attorneys and insurance professionals.
Step 6 Monitoring the Financial Planning Recommendations
It is this stage of the process that makes up the greater part of our daily duties here at Focus. At this point, we are monitoring the performance of your investment portfolio, changes in the law that may affect you, and the general economic climate. We will meet with you regularly to discuss changes in your situation, recommend specific actions in response to those changes, and examine the general progress of your financial plan.
Focus works with National Advisors
Trust Company to provide trust services to our clients and their families. National Advisors Trust provides first class trust and custodial services such as those traditionally offered by bank trust companies and brokerage firms, but with personal attention, and at favorable costs. This includes reporting, record keeping, trade execution, safeguarding assets, and protecting the confidentiality of personal financial information.
National Advisors Trust Company, a federally chartered
advisor-owned trust company, was created in 2001 by more than 120 independent financial advisors to provide their clients with corporate trustee and other fiduciary services. This was in response to the advisor's concerns regarding declining service levels and higher costs associated with the widespread consolidation of banks and their trust departments.
Although National Advisors Trust acts as trustee, Focus will serve as your primary advisor.
Although National Advisors Trust acts as trustee, Focus will serve as your primary advisor.
Fred Raffety, owner of Focus Financial Advisors
is a shareholder of less than 1% interest in National Advisors Holdings, Inc., which is the parent company of National Advisors Trust.
Focus Financial Advisors is an independently-owned investment advisor registered with the Securities and Exchange Commission. We offer investment management and comprehensive financial planning on a fiduciary, fee-only basis.