Chris Wentzien, CFP®, CPA/PFS, CPA, MBA, Natural Bridges Financial Advisors
For Chirs Wentzien, it’s fitting that his initial interest in financial planning was rooted in soccer. Growing up, Chris loved sports, and though he jokes about the fact that he was often more interested in athletics than academics, it’s soccer that earned him a college scholarship and put him on the path toward financial planning. After graduating from college, Chris played professionally for a few years, and when the team he played for filed for bankruptcy, Chris found himself interested in the numbers behind the legal story. When his professional soccer career ended, Chris decided to go back to school.
After starting a career in public accounting, Chris shifted to corporate financing, and found his way into mergers and acquisitions. Though he was interested in personal finances, fee-only planning was in its infancy, and he had no desire to be a salesman. To him, it didn’t seem like financial planning was a viable option. Eventually, Chris left his role in mergers and acquisitions to enroll in a CFP® program. He interviewed with several firms, and one of them was an ACP practice. Though the timing didn’t line up and he accepted another offer, the seed had been planted. ACP stuck in the back of his head, a little reminder that there was a fee-only system out there that could work.
Chris didn’t return to ACP until he stumbled upon Bert’s book. When he read it, something clicked into place. Here was an articulation of the exact idea he’d been thinking about. Chris contacted ACP in 2006, but he was nervous about the prospect of venturing out on his own. He laughs now thinking about himself as a prospective member, how he considered the idea of joining for years before finally doing so.
Attending the conference in 2008 sealed the decision for Chris. Meeting other advisors showed him not only that it was possible to own a successful fee-only practice, but it allowed him to find the mentors who would help him along the way. “I left the conference thinking I’ve got to do this. And ACP gave me the courage and confidence to do it,” he says.
As with any good decision, Chris expresses some regret at not getting started sooner, but he also recalls that the first couple of years were the hardest. “It was easy to get things organized, to buy the software, but getting those first 10 clients is tough,” he says. He was grateful to have the framework and the community support from ACP. Chris leaned heavily on the ACP Success Program for structure with his first batch of client meetings, asking the questions that ACP provided. “Having that coaching and encouragement, plus an established process—that’s what made the difference,” he says.
A big part of what’s drawn Chris to ACP and kept him engaged over the years is the camaraderie built into the organization. “I’ve been to a lot of conferences and am a member of other organizations, but nothing touches ACP in that department,” he says. He’s part of a group of advisors who meet monthly to talk about issues and support each other’s practices. Through these connections, Chris has built the foundation he needs to run the practice he wants.
Chris has been active in ACP for years. He’s currently serving as president elect and will take over leadership of the organization in 2020. He has been a member of the Student Committee and the System Committee, and acted as a mentor to students and new advisors. “The thing about ACP is you get out of it what you put into it,” he says. By investing himself in the organization, Chris has helped to build a bright future not only for ACP, but for his own practice as well.
For everything you do for ACP, thank you, Chris!