Following a BLUEPRINT

Greg Powell

Written by Joe O’Donnell ⎪ Photography by Beau Gustafson

Greg Powell wasn’t always sure he had a book in him. He was certain however that inside his heart and mind he had the blueprint for a house, a financial house with rooms dedicated to different aspects of the many ways money and life intersect.

Powell, CEO of Fi-Plan Partners, an investment firm specializing in financial planning, private wealth management and business consulting based in Hoover, has spent more than 30 years in the financial services industry and over time developed an approach that he calls Your Financial House.

“The concept began the day I helped my four-year-old daughter color in rooms of a house she sketched on a piece of paper,” Powell says. “Lydia gave each square a different color, describing how each room was a place for her special things. That father-daughter moment gave me an idea: What if this house could help people think about the financial planning process? What if I could talk about a “financial blueprint” instead of a financial plan? I quickly put my 32 years of financial experience to work, and the result was Your Financial House, bringing all facets of financial planning under a single roof. Using the Your Financial House model over time, I’ve seen people gain the knowledge to embrace their strengths and reduce their anxieties. For we ask unique questions most financial advisors don’t even consider.

“The key to success is not the statements you make, but the questions you ask,” Powell says.

“What I really loved about investment strategy is the chance to make a difference in people’s lives. That was very attractive to me and one reason that I am still very passionate about the industry. Through the years I have had the opportunity to participate in the evolution of families. Clients believed in me when I was in my 20s and now I am in my 50s and we work with their kids and their grandkids. I have been to funerals and weddings and graduations and celebrations of birth. I love the dialogue about the strategies that need to be put in place to help somebody. That is what the book talks about,” Powell says.

The book was quite an undertaking for Powell. Entitled Better, Richer, Fuller, the book is a compendium of the concepts Powell has been working with for more than three decades with his Your Financial House process.

“How do you become financially successful? It’s not chance. It’s knowing the right questions to ask yourself and your financial advisor. Your Financial House helps you create a custom financial plan centered around your dreams and goals. And we believe that should be at the heart of any long-term investment strategy,” Powell says.

For a business owner or professional, the idea of writing a book or creating content that explains the unique facets of the business is an increasingly popular way of getting a message in front of potential clients and customers.

For Powell, this book was that and more. “I didn’t have any intention of becoming an author. The original idea came about from clients who said to me that the Your Financial House process made a huge difference for them. With prodding and encouragement I decided to try and write a book, but it was very frustrating to me,” Powell says.

“If I could just find a way to write a book that was my voice coming off the pages. We decided to videotape me and have it transcribed. Anyone who knows me knows I have the ability to talk, so we said ‘Let’s try that,’ and it worked great.”

Powell looks at the book as an incredible and exciting journey. “I learned so much about self publishing, proofreading, indexing, cover design. I was fascinated by the process. The exciting part was it was my voice coming off the page. It is written the way I would talk to you,” he says.

In many ways, the book is a culmination of the message Powell has been trying to bring to people all these years. His interest in things financial stretch all the way back to childhood and growing up the son of an accountant and CFO. “That’s how I grew up. I got to work for him. He ran me through some great job positions in the summers and other times that really helped me. I went off to college at Samford to study accounting and then law school. And then I called him up and said the genetic code had been broken and I was not going to be an accountant. I changed my major to finance and loved it. I got passionate about it, and the rest is history,” Powell says.

Later father and son worked together for more than 17 years. “He retired when I started Fi-Plan Partners,” Powell says. “I had become very concerned about the business model of the big investment firms. That was in 2005. He passed away four years ago. He would still come into the office here and everybody loved him. He would come in and say, ‘I want to speak to a financial advisor but not that guy in the back office,’ meaning me.”

Your Financial House emphasizes the dialogue people need to have with their financial advisor and other professionals. “The important thing to understand is it is really all about you and the relationships you have in your life and all of the details that surround that.

“Regardless of their age, your kids are your children and they have an impact on your money. Do you have a child with special needs? Do you have a child with a drug or alcohol problem?  Do you have a child who is married to someone you don’t like or a child who has been through a divorce and you are helping them out? You may want to help them get the grandkids through college. Those are not retirement discussions. The industry focuses on retirement and should, but I wanted to focus on the what-ifs, the relationships,” Powell says. “I believe there needs to be much more discussion about the person, the family in all of the ways it can be defined, as opposed to the financial product.

“I am coming up on 40 years and I still get enthusiastic and passionate about what I do. The fundamentals are still the same though the business is far more regulated. In some ways that is good and in other ways it constrains us. We as a nation do a weak job on financial literacy. The book is a way for me to make an impact on that,” he says. ∞