Never underestimate the power of a father’s steady influence and guiding hand. ACP member Steve Martin recalls that his dad’s encouragement and support as a youngster helped him set his feet on his path toward becoming a holistic, fee-only financial planner.
“My dad encouraged me at a young age to think about accounting and taxes,” Steve said. Steve was a hard worker even as a kid. He said he always had a side hustle, like a lawn business. And he was preparing his own tax returns when he was 14 or 15. Steve said his dad saw he had the personality and gifts for accounting and taxes. “My dad got me interested in taxes and investments a bit early on and got me set up in an IRA early on, too,” he said. “He steered me in the general direction, and I figured it out from there.”
Steve went on to earn a degree in accounting and finance from Indiana University–Purdue University Indianapolis, as well a law degree from Indiana University in Bloomington. After finishing his education Steve accepted a position in the tax department with Ernst & Young in Charlotte, NC, gaining valuable tax preparation and tax consultation experience in route to obtaining his CPA. Steve became more interested in financial planning as he was part of the Personal Financial Consulting team at the firm, but he felt like there was probably better models of serving clients. “Financial planning was really in its infancy then and I didn’t really know the route to go,” he said.
Eventually Steve moved on to practice estate and tax planning with a boutique law firm in Charlotte. After a number of years he was ready for a change. “I decided to then look more broadly and bring in that finance and tax accounting background more. I started working for a private bank as a financial planner.”
A lifelong learner, Steve began studying for his CFP exam and then went back to school to earn his LLM (Master of Laws in tax). The next few years gave him the opportunity to continue to broaden and deepen his knowledge in the financial planning field working for Wells Fargo in Florida and Nashville and then for another large private bank. While this career move left him concerned with the integrity of management and the private bank industry in general, it was, however, a turning point in his career.
Steve had heard about registered investment advisory firms and knew a little bit about it, but not a lot, he said. “So when I was looking to make that career move, I started to reach out to various folks in Nashville. One call led to another and eventually I got with ACP members Mike Ryan and Melvin Spain, and they were both instrumental in talking about ACP and the industry as a whole.”
Steve was immediately surprised about how open and willing to share ideas they were. “I was shocked to hear so many people doing true planning,” he said. “I didn't even know it existed. It was just a breath of fresh air to hear that there's a little industry that kind of does what you've been wanting to do for all these years.”
Steve joined ACP in the fall of 2016. “And before I knew it, I was in Seattle at the conference and going through Group Instruction. I learned a lot in the training and had a great experience at that first conference where I really started to understand the culture of ACP and have been in love with it ever since.”
ACP’s supportive culture meant a lot to Steve as he was getting started. “You've got to figure it out,” he said. “You really can't do that on your own. I probably wouldn't have done it on my own had there not been an organization like ACP.” Steve credits his ability to draw from ACP’s considerable knowledge base with his steady growth.
Getting advice from others who have been there, done that, and made mistakes along the way is a huge benefit for him. “It's great to get encouragement either via zoom or when you see someone face to face. You feel like you're part of a bigger team and you want to work diligently for them and be there for them.”
Today Steve’s firm, Oasis Wealth Planning Advisors, has a four-member team. While he misses some aspects of belonging to a large team, he would never go back. “Looking back, I can't believe I worked for a big entity all those years,” he said. “It's just much more enjoyable being able to call your shots and serve clients the way you think they should be served.” The ACP community is Steve’s new team and that’s the real value of his membership. He saves time and money by asking members about vendors, technology, and practice management, and enjoys the discounts offered by ACP vendor partners.
Steve is a member of the ACP Continuity Committee and Financial Focus team. He also serves as a media spokesperson for the organization and is a consistent and passionate attendee at ACP conferences. He is always ready to volunteer with the community that has given him so much. When he can tear himself away from his clients and his work he enjoys serving in his church, golf, travel, and soccer. He has attended five World Cup championships and hopes to attend several more.