A Florida advisor is helping law enforcement and other first responders maneuver around the complicated pension system and in doing so has built himself a thriving financial planning practice.
How did he penetrate one of the most closed-door fraternal orders anywhere? By being a member.
Brian McGinnis started a financial services business in the Tampa area that caters to police and firefighters. Prior to becoming a financial advisor he’d been a Florida cop for more than 20 years and an engineer before that.
He became interested in finance when a friend left law enforcement to go work for Raymond James. The idea of becoming a financial advisor appealed to him.
“Being a financial advisor looked interesting, and I realized I could help people,” McGinnis recalls. “I began studying the Florida Retirement System for state employees. I educated myself.”
While working full-time as a cop McGinnis managed to study the Florida Retirement System inside out and also go to school to obtain degrees in business and criminal justice. He was a very busy guy.
What he found was that first responders had no idea about money. In many cases they were being sold unsuitable products that they didn’t understand and were expensive to own. It bothered the veteran cop.
“People had no idea what they were doing with their pensions,” McGinnis says. “No idea at all.”
So, in 2011, he made the move to financial services after a friend had died in the line of duty. He realized that he understood financial planning and had an affinity for helping people which he’d mastered while working in law enforcement.
Interestingly, first responders often have financial situations that are more complex as a result of pensions earned while on the job.
“First responders who are highly skilled have a lot of options for highly paid employment,” he says. “They can work for hospitals or security firms, for example, full-time or part-time. They have many years of work ahead of them, and need to understand their new benefits and rules like IRS rollovers.”
While his time served opened doors for him when it comes to prospecting with first responders it is his passion for financial planning that converts those prospects to clients.
“I worked with Brian and know the man and his character,” Sheriff Brandon Ross of Hernando County Ross says. “He knows us and talks our talk, but it was Brian’s knowledge of the retirement system that made me comfortable. I’m not a financial guy and he answered any questions I had. The way he explained things were on my level. That was the deciding factor for me. He knew how the system worked.”
He’s definitely got his clients’ backs.