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Retirement Planning Specialist Tad Hill helps his clients work toward financial independence.
In a world of market fluctuation, Tad Hill helps ensure his clients that it is possible to have a confident retirement with proper planning.
Tad Hill is the founder and president of Freedom Financial Group, a retirement planning firm located in Birmingham, Alabama. Hill is a Charter Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC®) and a Registered Financial Consultant (RFC). His clients are those that are either already retired or who are within five or 10 years of retirement.
Tad helps his clientele work toward their financial goals through the use of insurance and investment products. As a retirement planning specialist, his planning is focused on helping people protect and preserve their life savings and plan for the distribution of their wealth in the most tax-efficient way possible. This approach is designed with the intent of best accomplishing the goal of having their income last throughout their retirement years.
He was featured on the cover of AE Insider magazine (2012) as the leader of one of Advisors Excel's fastest-growing financial planning firms. Advisors Excel is an independent marketing organization located in Topeka, KS.
Hill graduated from Auburn University and has passed the Series 65 securities exam to become an Investment Adviser Representative. Due to the license he holds, he has a fiduciary responsibility to his clients. Under the fiduciary standard, he always acts in the best interest of his clients and is bound to complete transparency in any client relationship. As a fee-only or fee-based advisor, he acts solely for the benefit of his clients.
Hill states, “I am very passionate about doing things the right way. I’m responsible for my clients’ life savings and that is an enormous responsibility that I take very seriously. If you’re going to entrust me with your retirement planning, then I am going to do everything that I can to be the best retirement planner possible.”
Hill relates, “Our goal is to create the best client experience for everyone who works with us. We want our clients to feel like we’re going so far above and beyond for them that they can’t wait to tell their friends and family about us. Unfortunately, our industry has earned a significant level of distrust in the past few years, and I want to do everything in my power to rebuild that trust, one client at a time.”
Hill continues, “We want our clients to have a different experience when they come through the doors of our office. We want our clients to know that they are the most important people in the world to us and that we are here for them. Our goal is to treat our clients in such a way that they couldn’t imagine not referring their friends and family to us.
Being very committed to educating his clients, Tad wants his clients to understand their financial plan so well that they are able to teach him what is in their plan and why it’s there. According to him, that is the litmus test. If his clients are able to articulate the components of their financial plan and why it is set up that way, then feels that he has done his job well.
Tad conducts public events where he offers a one-hour talk on retirement planning and financial issues pertinent to his audience. He also informs people through his weekly radio show and sends out weekly "updates" to keep people abreast of the most current happenings related to the firm and their investments.
Not only is educating his clients highly important to him, but having fun with his clients is also high on his agenda. On a monthly basis he holds a client appreciation event which is an opportunity for his clients to spend time with him, his staff and one another in a relaxed atmosphere. On a regular basis, Freedom Financial Group offers events such as wine tastings, murder mystery dinner theaters, and even a yearly riverboat cruise.
Hill says, “These events give us an opportunity to spend time with our clients. In fact, our clients have become friends with each other because they see each other at these events. It’s a great social networking opportunity for them and it’s a chance for them to interact with me and my staff in a less formal setting. If a client wants to talk business, I will do that. But, it’s mainly intended to be a time for them to have fun and it gives us an opportunity to show them in a tangible way how much we appreciate them.”
Tad has developed a retirement roadmap process that takes people step by step through all the questions that need to be asked and all the facts that need to be uncovered in order to gather enough information for the all important financial analysis that must be done before any recommendations can be made. He calls this information the “must-know facts.” It’s a very process-oriented experience, but one that is strategically valuable in the beginning stages of the client relationship. It is a vital step in determining what specific recommendations will be made and why they are made.
When talking to Tad, one can sense that he is very passionate about asking the right questions and gathering key information before even thinking about making any kind of recommendation.
He states, “One of the mistakes I see people make when moving into retirement is that they never connect with anyone that has ever really analyzed their current situation and where they want to be in the future. They don’t know how to do it themselves because they’re not retirement planners. Typically, they aren’t really sure about the right questions to ask. So they seek out someone in the financial services business and assume the person they find knows what they are doing, only to find out later that their financial advisor was really no more than a salesperson for stocks, bonds and mutual funds. The ‘salesperson’ may ask a handful of questions, such as your risk tolerance, and then offer an investment that is deemed ‘suitable.’ But they never take the client through a process that’s designed to uncover everything that’s needed to develop a plan and protect their retirement. They’re just investing their money for them. They’re not investing the money for them with a clear understanding of what is required.”
He continues, “What "real retirement planners" do is spend a lot of energy on the front-end uncovering what I call the ‘must-know facts.’ We want to uncover all the must know facts about your circumstances before we provide financial advice.”
Hill offers this analogy, "If you go to the doctor for a check-up and the doctor immediately pulls out his prescription pad and begins to prescribe a bunch of medicines for you, you probably would question his judgment. Instead, you would expect him to ask you questions, do some lab work and conduct a thorough examination. Then, after he has gathered all the necessary data, you would expect him to develop a diagnosis and a plan of treatment if he found something wrong. Financial planning and retirement planning work in the same way. You should not invest your dollars until a thorough evaluation has been conducted to determine what the conditions are and what the plan of treatment will be. Just as certain medicines are designed to treat certain illnesses, so certain investments are designed for certain situations. Medicines are much like investments. If doctors give the wrong advice, that can potentially be devastating to their client’s financial health. Sometimes people think they’re going to the doctor, when they are really going to the drug rep. The moral of the story is, make sure you see the financial doctor and not the financial drug rep."
Hill adds, “As an Investment Adviser Representative, I have a fiduciary responsibility to look out for the well-being of my clients. My job is to make sure my clients don’t run out of money. My goal is for my clients to have a sense of security in their retirement years because they know we’ve done everything possible to help reduce the risks that could possibly face them.”
Hill has taken his financial expertise to the airwaves, being featured on ABC’s Talk of Alabama as well as on Fox television. Hill is also the weekly financial specialist on the television program, "Retiring Well," airing at 11:30 a.m. every Sunday on ABC in and around Birmingham. Additionally, he is the featured financial specialist on the weekly "Financial Safari" radio program airing on WERC 105.5 and WAPI 100.5.
Hill was part of a four-person professional panel at the Birmingham Business Summit, talking to business owners and professionals about the keys to running a successful business. He has written for the Birmingham Business Journal on business planning and has also been quoted in the Birmingham News on financial issues, including the Department of Labor's new fiduciary rule. Additionally, he has been writing a book on retirement called Retire with Freedom, which should be published soon.