Planning for a secure and happy tomorrow, while fulfilling your needs for today is a careful balancing act and an ongoing challenge. Whether it’s preparing for the birth of a child, financing a college education or planning for retirement, you want to make sure you’re on the right path. Potomac Financial Group (PFG), a premier financial planning and wealth management group, is committed to helping its clients do just that. Their mission is to provide their clients and families with a high level of care and personalized solutions to help them achieve confidence and financial freedom.
Todd M. Wike, Managing Partner and CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER®at PFG, asserts, “Our brand is all about ‘Finding your Freedom’- it’s not about building the biggest nest egg we can while putting everything else to the side in our pursuit of that nest egg. Certainly, investment returns are important, and we focus on them, but ‘Finding your Freedom’ is about living your life and planning your future in a way that leads you to your desired destination without the burden of worrying about your money.”
A Culture of Care and Loyalty
Established in 1973, PFG has made tremendous progress in devising and implementing financial plans and building a loyal customer base. Todd Wike, a formal NFL player, joined the business in 2005 as a part of a long-term succession plan and found a true passion in this work. Even if it’s a stressful job to manage someone’s wealth, Todd finds it rather rewarding and fulfilling.
He shares, “Our founder, Larry Grabenstein, began his working career as a high school teacher, and many of his initial clients were teachers. 40+ years later, and they are still our clients, and we have helped them successfully transition into retirement.” According to Todd, the best part is the leadership position he and his team hold as a financial fiduciary for advisory relationships and looking out for their client’s best interests, as it allows them to effectively guide each in areas that may seem intimidating to them.
PFG is headquartered in Calverton, Maryland, between Baltimore and Washington, DC, and has additional offices in Ellicott City, MD, and Leonardtown, MD. Their success in offering clients a high level of care and personalized solutions has been growing steadily through word-of-mouth and referrals from delighted customers.
Todd explains, “We don’t do seminars or free lunches/dinners or anything like that to try and generate new business. It’s always been our philosophy to take great care of our clients – to treat them better and care for them more than any other business they encounter in their daily lives. Naturally, they’ll want to talk about us and tell their family and friends about the relationship that we have with them.”
“We do not have a one-size-fits-all approach to helping our clients meet their financial goals. In an industry that has become commoditized like many others, I believe our clients choose to work with us because of the type of people we are and our careful and personalized approach to solving problems.”
Offering Custom-Built Solutions to Meet Their Client’s Needs
With over 45 years of experience helping clients achieve their financial independence, PFG understands the importance of developing a plan that precisely fits the needs of its clients and their families. First off, their primary effort is to understand their client’s circumstances and needs besides their concerns about risk and hopes for the future.
Equipped with this understanding a team of experienced professionals comes together and contributes their expertise to develop a time-tested strategy to manage the client’s assets and generate maximum returns based on each individual’s specific situation and risk tolerance. To ensure they meet their client’s needs and leave no stone unturned, PFG’s financial planning and wealth management approach encourages continued collaboration with clients, their professional advisors, such as accountants and attorneys, and amongst their in-house team.
This commitment to individualized and customized service further gives them an edge over other firms in the industry. Todd says, “We do not have a one-size-fits-all approach to helping our clients meet their financial goals. In an industry that has become commoditized like many others, I believe our clients choose to work with us because of the type of people we are and our careful and personalized approach to solving problems.”
Comprehensive Financial Planning and Wealth Management with PFG’s Freedom7 Process
Although every financial plan is customized to address a client’s goals, PFG developed a comprehensive framework, Freedom7, to help clients better understand the many aspects of their financial plan. PFG’s Freedom7 ensures all aspects of one’s financial plan are covered and helps provide a sense of confidence to their clients in 7 vital areas including:
1. Financial Inventory Assessment
PFG partners with each client to find their important information and create a personal portfolio of vital documents and coupled with the PFG Financial Inventory Assessment, their immediate financial picture is actionable.
2. Personal Net Worth and Budget Summaries
Once they have all the client’s financial information gathered and well organized, the team develops a Net Worth Summary that clearly shows all their assets and liabilities (debts). PFG also creates a General Budget Summary that helps each client view and, most importantly, clearly understand where they are spending their money each month.
3. Goal Planning and Monitoring (GPM)
Once the PFG Team has a clear understanding of their client’s unique goals, they establish a realistic roadmap to their future financial vision. Using Goal Planning and Monitoring software, they watch for key financial milestones and recalibrate the plan, as needed.
The IPS communicates client’s investment goals and strategies to the PFG advisors and is vital for keeping their plan on track and disciplined through the typical ups and downs of the markets.
6. The PFG Planning Dashboard
A visual representation of planning topics, the PFG Planning Dashboard tracks planning and identifies those planning areas most in need of attention and easily prioritizes a client’s “to do lists.
Lastly, the PFG advisors recommend Everplans to their clients for the digital storage of Wills, passwords, funeral wishes and other key life documents, securely stored in their very own safe and shareable vault.
“We’re always thinking about the client’s needs and how to improve their experience. We are trying to tailor our service model to those needs while creating an experience you don’t find with any other businesses. That’s the human touch and the care that, when combined with our expertise, will never be replaced.”
The Pandemic and Its Aftermath
The way PFG powered their business through the Covid-19 pandemic is highly commendable and clearly shows how prepared they are for risk management. With sudden lockdowns in various parts of the world and social distancing becoming the norm, they effortlessly and quickly transitioned to remote work backed by their efficient technology systems.
Speaking of what the transition was like, Todd shares, “Like many other businesses, we adopted video conferencing, and we’ve been holding most of our meetings through Zoom and over the phone. I’m so thankful for our clients and the trust that they’ve placed in us. It was tested again last year through the market volatility, but we all got through it just fine with more lessons learned and perhaps some thicker skin.”
Unlike most businesses that were instead struggling to sustain their operations, PFG was able to gain several new clients in 2020 solely through virtual meetings and without any in-person interactions. Their reputation for client-centric care was sought after by new clients, particularly during and after the market volatility in the spring of 2020.
Looking at the future, PFG understands that there’s commoditization going on in the investment industry, but they are not concerned. They believe that the customized planning and the expertise offered by each member of their team, along with the care and long-term relationships they have built, is irreplaceable even with highly efficient algorithms or robots. PFG will continue to stay up-to-date with industry developments and technological advancements to remain prepared for unpredictable circumstances, such as this pandemic, and continue to offer quality services to their clients. In terms of upcoming PFG initiatives, Todd asserts, “We’re always thinking about the client’s needs and how to improve their experience. We are trying to tailor our service model to those needs while creating an experience you don’t find with any other businesses. That’s the human touch and the care that, when combined with our expertise, will never be replaced.”
Securities offered through Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services are offered through Raymond James Financial Services Advisors, Inc. Potomac Financial Group is not a registered broker/dealer and is independent of Raymond James Financial Services.
The projections or other information generated by Goal Planning & Monitoring regarding the likelihood of various investment outcomes are hypothetical in nature, do not reflect actual investment results and are not guarantees of future results. Goal Planning & Monitoring results may vary with each use and over time.
Riskalyze is an independent third-party service provider and is not affiliated with Raymond James.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. owns the certification marks CFP®, CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™, CFP® (with plaque design) and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it awards to individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.