Growing up in High Point, North Carolina, Brad Clinard was raised with a healthy appreciation for good design. So when a business coach asked him years later how he would run his family’s wealth management business differently if he knew he was never going to retire, one thing, in particular, came to mind.
“If I’m going to work with a group for the next 40 years, don’t I want to surround myself with fun, creative people who also happen to have really big hearts?” Brad says. “I find that with designers, it doesn’t always get highlighted, but they have this huge capacity for helping people.”
Three years ago, Brad took his coach’s advice and decided to break away from the large national bank he and his father worked for to start High Point Financial Design — an independently owned, family-run financial planning business serving design professionals and built on shared values.
“Our slogan is ‘Intentional planning, abundant living,’” says Brad. “Our goal is to help designers create sustainable lifestyles and pursue financial freedom in their personal lives.”
A Unique Approach to Financial Design
After working for a large wealth management firm, Brad felt stifled by the goals-based financial planning approach many subscribed to there.
“Most financial advisors are very analytical, and they use a numbers-based communication style that doesn’t resonate with a lot of designers who may be more creative, more right-brain focused,” he says. Brad and his team approach things differently by focusing on the values and preferred communication style of each individual client. Rather than focusing almost exclusively on lofty long-term goals, High Point Financial Design creates financial plans that help clients have the experiences they want in their lives right now.
For example, consider what traditional financial advisors call the “latte factor,” or the idea that if you don’t buy a $3 cup of coffee every day, you could invest that money and generate incredible returns over a 20 year period.
“A goals-based approach is very much focused on what works in a spreadsheet, and so that advisor may tell you to stop buying coffee,” Brad explains. “I like to start by finding out what someone values so I’m not putting any of my personal beliefs on how clients should manage their money.” In other words, that coffee may be worth it to you if it’s something you truly value.
Brad sees financial design as an essential component for success. Many interior designers may already have a design coach and a CPA to help them achieve their business goals, but a financial designer is there to focus on achieving personal milestones as well.
“We’re the third key relationship as designers strive to reach financial security,” Brad says.
Control Your Finances, Control Your Life
Brad views personal finance as a means to gain better control of your life.
“I always look at money a little bit like oxygen,” says Brad. “If you don't have enough, then it's a real problem. But at some point, once you have enough oxygen or you have enough money, it really becomes up to you to live an abundant life.” Gaining control of your finances frees you up to focus more on the things, people, and experiences you value most.
Many of Brad’s clients are experiencing major life changes or milestones, which he sees as an opportunity for them to recreate themselves. Recently, one of Brad’s clients was going through a divorce and decided she wanted to buy an RV and travel the country. With his guidance and support, she was able to make this dream a reality and now sends him pictures of her cross-country adventures. Brad says he was most inspired by “her ability to reclaim a sense of self and live an abundant life as she defines it.”
The First Step Is the Hardest
If there is one thing that Brad wants designers to take away from his upcoming webinar with Design Manager, it’s that personal finance doesn’t have to be so scary.
“To me, it's really about creating an awareness where we understand that thinking about personal finances is not the most fun thing, but it's such an important part of life,” says Brad. “There are small shifts we can make in how we frame our conversations around money that can help us be organized and have a sense of control around our finances, which ultimately gives us a sense of control around our personal destiny.”
Brad believes that the most important thing anyone can do is to simply be engaged with their financial life. “The largest obstacle is choosing to take that first step and say ‘Yes, my finances are important and I'm going to engage in a process of knowing where things stand.’” From there, it’s all about working together with Brad and his team to put plans in place to move in a better direction while still enjoying life today.