Story by Elaine Anne Watt
When you sit down with Helen Modly in the comfortably intimate conference room of Buckingham Strategic Wealth’s offices here in Middleburg, you can easily see why she and her firm have developed a rapport with clients that transcends the norm. She loves what she does and what she does is serve.
“We aren’t about selling investment products and we don’t make commissions. We are here to act in our client’s best interest as they navigate life’s challenges; it is a fiduciary duty that we take very seriously, but we have a lot of fun doing it.” Part of that fun is the “big news” that occurred this past summer when Modly and her partner Susan Chesson agreed to the acquisition by Buckingham Strategic Wealth of their former company Focus Wealth Management.
“Seventeen years ago, when Sandi Atkins and I founded Focus Wealth Management in Middleburg, we adopted the client service model and investment philosophy espoused by Buckingham. Not surprisingly, we compared our approach to client care and investment portfolios and saw about a 95 percent overlap. We knew we might be an acquisition target.” What attracted them to each other is that Buckingham, a St. Louis-based wealth management firm currently with about $10 billion in assets under management, wanted a presence in the Northern Virginia area and Focus wanted the access to greater resources to better help their clients reach their most important life and financial goals that Buckingham’s reach could provide. Both firms offered academically rooted, evidence-based comprehensive investment management and financial planning services to individuals, families and businesses for tiered fees of one percent or less depending on the size of the portfolios.
Buckingham’s motto is “Building Relationships by Doing the Right Thing.”™ In Modly’s words that means “we as a team will be able to focus even more on offering our clients the sound, independent financial advice they’ve come to expect and deserve, which is what we consider the highest and best use of our time and talents.” But, don’t think that is all charts, market risk analyses and clinical assessments. They are just as likely to be listening to a client’s personal circumstances, often one involving “facing the unexpected” such as a loss, divorce or life transition. “Our job is to anticipate and prepare for as much as we can, and then respond when situations change.”
Since the acquisition, Modly has remained a wealth manager and the advisory team leader of Buckingham’s two Virginia offices. Being a women-centric firm and having kept all their talent from Focus Wealth is “definitely a strength. We’ve been able to maintain that level of intimacy that goes beyond managing portfolios; we’re just as likely to be helping someone buy a car or learn to track their bills and important papers so that they know what it means to them day by day.”
With their two offices, the one in Middleburg and the other in Fairfax “where the younger advisors want to work,” laughs Modly, their clients range from multi-generational families that are typically very discreet about their financial circumstances to individuals and families of a younger age achieving their first levels of financial success. Approximately 65 percent of their clients are single women. “What we offer them is Sound Advice – Uncommon Service,®” says Modly.
Modly proudly states, “what we have achieved by becoming part of Buckingham is greater security and depth of resources for our clients so that we can give them the most superior personalized service in the industry.” ML
Locations include 112 West Washington Street, Ste. 204, P.O. Box 327, Middleburg, VA 20118; phone 540-931-9051 and 11325 Random Hills Road, Ste. 210, Fairfax, VA 22030, phone 703-760-3673.
Visit them at Buckingham-Virginia.com.