We’re highlighting one of our fearless leaders, Angie M. Stephenson, CFP®, CPA/PFS, Domani Wealth’s Chief Operations Officer, Partner, and Senior Wealth Advisor. Get to know her in the following interview!
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
My name is Angie M. Stephenson and I started my career with an international CPA firm in Richmond, VA, working in tax consulting with high-net-worth clients. We moved to Lancaster about 30 years ago when my husband, Tom, was transferred here with his company. After moving to Pennsylvania, I joined a large regional accounting firm (formerly ParenteBeard) and was named a partner in the mid ‘90s. We love living in Lancaster and call it home.
Tell us about the events that led up to where you are now.
I was always interested in finance, and the stock market was fascinating to me even as a young girl. In college, tax, business law and investments were some of my favorite classes. While I obtained an accounting degree, I knew working with debits and credits was not going to fulfill me longer term. Accounting is recording history, and I loved being proactive and problem solving. I also really enjoyed helping people and planning for their future. Within six months of graduating from college, I was offered an opportunity in the tax-consulting and planning group. I never looked back!
What is your business and how/why did you start your business?
As part of the tax-planning and consulting group in the CPA firm, we focused on tax, financial and estate planning for clients, their businesses and families. In 1995, at the request of many of our clients and other professionals, we established a separate entity to provide comprehensive financial planning and investment strategies.
What makes your business distinctive in your industry?
This is a great question, as it can be difficult for consumers to fully understand how to evaluate firms that offer financial advice and investments. Domani Wealth is a fee-only advisory firm. While we provide investment management, it is our planning for clients that sets us apart. Our team is comprised of experienced professionals who have certifications such as CPA, CFP®, CEA, CTFA and AIF®, and have spent many years assisting clients in achieving their financial goals. We gain an understanding of a client’s total financial situation, including retirement planning, taxes, investment risk, business ownership and succession, trusts, retirement plans, and charitable aspirations.
We are also a member of the independent advisor group at Callan, a national investment research and consulting firm. With access to Callan and other resources, we build portfolios with investments we believe are a good match for clients and are aligned with their financial goals. Our selections may include mutual funds, stocks, bonds, separate account managers and publicly registered but privately trades strategic type investments. We have no allegiance to any family of mutual funds or money managers. Since we are a fee-only advisor, it sets the stage for us to select investments in portfolios in a conflict-free environment. We receive no compensation for any investments in client portfolios.
Given your expertise and the nature of what you do, what advice can you offer to individuals?
If I could give any advice, it would be to make sure you plan early and often for your retirement business succession, estate and other goals.
Find a professional and firm that has team members with credentials such as CFP®, CFA, and CPA. It is important to have someone who understands broad financial matters, investments, risk management and how income taxes can alter your results for success. A financial plan is not something you can do once and think you are set for the future. Your plan should be reviewed at least annually to make sure you are on track to achieve your goals. The plan must be fluid and adjusted for changes such as stock market conditions, employment, disability, death, etc.
I highly suggest finding a professional and firm that focuses on financial planning. If your advisor spends the majority of the time in meetings speaking about the investments and not about how your long-term financial plan is working then it is time to ask more questions or find a group that focuses on the planning first and then selects the investments to align with your personal goals and financial plan.
What else should we know about your business?
Domani Wealth is a privately owned local firm. We pride ourselves in assisting clients to plan for their future. When clients achieve their goals and meet their financial benchmarks, it is also a success for the Domani team. All plans are tailored to match the client’s situation and specific goals. Many firms use a standard planning model and try to fit clients into a more rigid model. We truly believe this is not in the best interest of clients.
Angie M. Stephenson, CFP®, CPA/PFS