Why We Became Financial Advisors

Why We Became Financial Advisors

| July 23, 2019

Would you hand over your house keys to a stranger? That’s often what it feels like to work with a financial advisor. Not only do you need to find someone you can trust with your finances, arguably one of the most important parts of your life, but it also means taking the first steps in a relationship that will hopefully span for decades. That’s not something you want to jump into blindly. 

We understand how big a decision this is, and since you can only learn so much about someone from reading a website bio, we wanted to share a bit of our stories with you, to introduce ourselves and give you a glimpse of our passion for caring for our clients above and beyond the norm. 

Meet Sean O’Reilly

To put it simply, I chose a career in the financial services industry because I saw an industry that was providing valuable services for people but not putting the clients first as they should. I wanted to play a part in reinventing how a financial services company can serve people better, making a positive impact on their lives. 

I started out by earning a Bachelor’s of Science in Finance from the University of Illinois, and then, all in one week, I graduated, bought a Jeep, and moved to Colorado, where I am still happily settled today.

Fresh-faced and ready to go in a new city, I immediately jumped into my career by working as an investor services representative and fund accountant. Through the years with various companies, I went on to work as chief operating officer, gaining experience in financial services, quantitative analysis, risk mitigation, and project management, with companies ranging from multinational corporations to local, family-owned businesses. I eventually earned my Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation.

With all this experience under my belt, I decided to do something tangible about my passion to find a better way to serve investors in a way that truly meets their needs, and I designed purpose-built software to change the way advisors interact with clients, focusing on a holistic approach to financial advice. But I didn’t stop there. I joined FFG Retirement Counseling, a firm dedicated to revolutionizing financial advice by centering everything they do around their clients’ needs.

It’s been over 13 years since I became part of FFG Retirement Counseling and I’ve never looked back. Today, I am partner and chief operating officer, working with and leading an exemplary team of advisors to help purposefully manage our clients’ financial goals and dreams. 

When I’m not working, you can usually find me enjoying the great outdoors with my wife, Anne, and two sons, George and Gus. We love to enjoy Colorado life as much as possible by skiing, camping, or fly fishing, and we can’t wait to do more exploring in our new-to-us RV!

Meet Blake Barnett

Financial matters are one of the number-one stressors people face, but money is also an intensely personal matter. Those two facts combined are what motivated me to help people better manage their money so they could reduce their financial worries, freeing them to live their best lives. 

With this goal in mind, I attended Kennesaw State University and obtained my bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in finance. Right after graduating, I first started working as a financial advisor with Ameriprise Financial. During these early career years, I strengthened my ability to build relationships with clients while simultaneously building my skills and experience by earning the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation.

Now, I am partner and senior financial planner at FFG Retirement Counseling, spending my days using a client-centric approach to helping people meet their financial goals. I take the time to get to know each client, understanding what makes them tick, getting an idea of what their relationship with money looks like, and assess their overall financial picture. This foundation allows me to develop a solid personalized financial plan while also providing strategic advice tailored to their needs. 

Throughout the financial planning process, I strive to make my clients feel secure and comfortable as they entrust our team to properly guide their financial journey. I find it incredibly fulfilling when my clients tell me they have more confidence in their finances and their future because of my role as their guide and advocate.

So you’ll know me a little better, I grew up in Georgia (pardon my drawl!) and married my first love, Lindsay. Together we have two little girls that have me wrapped around their little fingers. The four of us have found an amazing church community and we enjoy being active members. Like Sean, we also love immersing ourselves in Colorado life, experiencing all that Denver has to offer, from hiking to visiting local eateries.

Meet Michelle Leichtner

When I first started my career in the financial industry, it was in investment banking. Now, as a logical and analytical person, this seemed like a great job on paper, but it was missing something. I wanted to help make a real difference in people’s lives instead of just dealing with institutions, so the switch to financial planning was the perfect fit for me. 

I graduated from Vanguard University with a bachelor’s degree in psychology and have over 17 years of experience in the financial services community. I am currently working toward earning my CFP® designation. Prior to joining the FFG team, I worked as a retirement education specialist and financial solutions advisor at Merrill Lynch, an experience that expanded my ability to always put people first. Through this client-first approach, I work to positively affect my clients’ financial future and therefore the many other pieces of their lives as well. 

As a financial planner and advisor at FFG Retirement Counseling, I work with clients one-on-one to customize a comprehensive plan that is unique to them, with the goal of providing an intuitive approach to wealth and financial security. I love helping my clients achieve their financial goals in a strategic way, and it brings me so much joy when I can show them that their goals are achievable with some careful planning.

When I am not assisting clients, I enjoy running, reading, and wine tasting. I have two young daughters, who keep me on my toes, and we love to go on adventures together, whether it’s traveling across the country or just a trip to Target. I grew up in Oregon, but I have called California, North Carolina, New Jersey, and now Colorado home.

Now It’s Your Turn!

Now that you have a better idea of why we do what we do, we’d love to get to know you and see how we can make a real difference in your life. If you are ready to stop worrying about money and start enjoying your life, schedule your free, no-obligation introductory meeting today!

About FFG Retirement Counseling

FFG Retirement Counseling is an independent financial services firm dedicated to providing a superior client experience to each and every client. The team at FFG makes this a reality by consistently putting their clients’ interests ahead of their own, making the complex easy to understand, and using a team approach to offer their clients multiple unique perspectives, all a commitment to transparency and open, honest communication. Their personalized approach and comprehensive suite of services help their clients successfully navigate the years before, during, and after their transition into retirement. To learn more about FFG Retirement Counseling, connect with them on LinkedIn or visit their website.

Advisory services offered through Smart Money Group LLC, a Registered Investment Adviser. Securities offered through Calton & Associates, Inc. Member FINRA/SIPC. FFG Retirement Counseling, Calton & Associates, Inc. and Smart Money Group, LLC. are separate entities.