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Q&A: A West Chester native is helping people in his community prepare for their futures

John VanWeelden, Founder & Principal of VanWeelden Financial Group in West Chester, enjoys owning and operating his own business. He also loves helping his clients find financial freedom.

We talked to VanWeelden about his passion and what keeps him motivated each day.

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Q: Tell us about yourself?

A: I am from West Chester, Ohio and attended Lakota High School. I graduated in 1985 and headed to Miami University in Oxford. There I completed an MBA with an emphasis in Finance, as well as two undergraduate degrees - in the Physical and Social Sciences.

My wife and I got married after we graduated from Miami and we had two kids. I worked in medical sales for 10 years before I discovered my true passion - helping people find financial peace of mind. My wife and I volunteered as budget counselors at our church for many years. It was during those years that I realized how much it meant to me to see people achieve true financial freedom - to master the use of money instead of being mastered by it. I made a complete career change as a result and have been so grateful I did. I’ve spent the last 19 years helping folks plan for their financial future and then watching them enjoy it. I love what we do at VanWeelden Financial Group.

In addition to becoming an Accredited Investment Fiduciary, I also pursued a designation of Chartered Advisor in Philanthropy, a post graduate degree combining advanced studies in Estate and Charitable Planning, which enables to help folks give.

I also serve the community as an ordained chaplain as member of the International Fellowship of Chaplains. I previously served as a Board Chair for Cincinnati Christian Schools for several years, and I have completed the West Chester Citizens Police Academy.

Q: What do you enjoy the most about your role?

A: I love the relationships we develop with our clients. I love that I get to work with people I really enjoy being with and help them achieve their dreams. I also love to teach and this role allows me to do that almost every day.

Q: What do you consider some of your greatest accomplishments to date?

A: I’d say leaving my former career and following my heart to do what I really love. It was a great accomplishment for me because I had to walk away from the safety and security of my old job and start over again. But it has been so worth it. One of the best decisions I ever made.

Q: What are some of the things you like to do when you’re not at work?

A: Mostly, I like to spend time with my family. But I also like to swim and run and enjoy the outdoors.

Q: Can you give us a little bit of background/history about your company?

A: We started back in 1999, just before the first major market correction of this century, with the popping of the tech bubble in 2000. That was quite a learning curve. We were originally affiliated with a large, national firm. Then we moved to West Chester and transitioned to affiliate with a much smaller, more independent firm, in order to achieve greater autonomy and more objectivity. Finally, we registered as a completely independent firm, in order to achieve total independence, and relocated once again to Olde West Chester. I’m hoping we’re there for good. Everyone working at the firm is a native of Greater Cincinnati and we all live in West Chester, which helps us connect to the community and our clients.

Q: Why did you want to own/operate your own company?

A: It’s become so clear to me that the only way to offer truly independent advice, completely free of any conflict of interest, is to own my own firm, and to not be in any way affiliated with any money managers, security companies, insurance companies, banks, or any other product purveyors whatsoever. Contrary to popular belief, there just aren’t many firms out there that can say that, so we decided we had to do it ourselves.

Q: How have you seen your company grow and evolve since its inception?

A: Well, early on, we were just another advisory firm, trying to survive and do things a little bit better than the next guy. And we basically promoted all the same basic financial principles that every other firm promotes, but just trying to do it a little bit better. Now, fast forward to today, we hold to a completely different perspective about what financial freedom means and how to achieve it than what most people have been taught throughout their lives. Very basic. Very simple. Very much a common-sense approach that we’ve found to be extremely successful.

Q: What are some of the services you offer or specialize in?

A: We offer truly holistic planning for retired, or soon to be retiring, individuals and their families. We’re very unique in that we offer highly specialized planning in areas most advisors don’t, because they aren’t areas that tend to generate revenue. But we think they’re critical to providing a truly holistic experience. Our planning services include - Retirement Income, Tax, Investment, Healthcare, Survivor and Legacy Planning, Social Security and Medicare.

Q: You recently received The Bucket Plan Certification. Can you tell us about that? What is it and what did you have to do to achieve it?

A: The Bucket Planning Process is a unique way of segregating one’s assets into various “buckets” or mental “silos,” according to their use, timing, and volatility. The proprietary process was developed by a national mastermind group of elite advisors, in order to address the problems of market, interest, and sequence risk - the top three threats facing retirement portfolios today. The Bucket Plan book, which describes the approach in detail, is currently a best seller on Amazon and can be picked up at just about any local bookstore. The certification process entails a lengthy and comprehensive series of learning modules and classes, followed by proficiency testing.

Q: How will this certification allow you to continue to serve your clients and the community?

A: We’ve been using the Bucket Plan Process for quite some time now, which has proven invaluable in helping our clients achieve peace of mind with respect to their retirement portfolios, regardless of what the future might hold. The advanced learning involved in the certification process helped us take our application of the process to a whole new level and assures our clients they’re working with someone with a strong working knowledge of the highly specialized process.

Q: Do you have any tips or advice for readers that might be helpful if they’re considering your services?

A: As far as advice, we encourage everyone to do whatever they can to limit their debt exposure and be sure to have sufficient cash reserves as they approach retirement. If they’re considering our services, we simply suggest they call for a free initial consultation. We’re not for everyone, but that’s the best way to find out.

Q: In working with your company, what are some of the biggest benefits for clients?

A: I think our comprehensive nature allows our clients to obtain a very broad range of retirement services, all under one roof. It also lends itself to providing a highly interactive level of customer service on an ongoing basis. We truly love our clients and enjoy interacting with them regularly. One client favorite is our interactive retirement planning software, which allows us to take a “visual tour” of our clients’ entire life expectancy from a cash flow and net worth standpoint changing manipulating variables along the way. Clients absolutely love it.

Q: How can we connect with you?

A: Phone: (513) 942-8961

Address: 8905 Cincinnati-Dayton Road, West Chester, Ohio 45069

Website: www.vanweeldengroup.com

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