Ask anyone to describe financial planning and you will likely get myriad responses ranging from investing in insurance policies or mutual funds to managing 401(k)s. But the common denominator is typically a pencil-pushing financial professional buried in spreadsheets with the latest trends, best buys and value-added opportunities, many of which are outdated before the ink is dry.
Enter Lennard van der Feltz, CFP®, MSM, MBA. The 62-year-old is anything but the typical financial planner. A self-professed “tech head,” he and his business partner Susan Talbott founded Pinnacle Financial Advisors, a full-service financial planning and wealth management firm that works with individuals, families and businesses, on the premise of delivering comprehensive, customized financial roadmaps using a client-first philosophy. Ironically, technology played a central part in making the latter come to life.
“Technology is at the root of our rapidly changing world. From communicating to looking at trends, it’s astonishing how much tech has changed our lives,” says van der Feltz. “With our tech-centric backgrounds, we wanted to harness that power to propel Pinnacle Financial Advisors into a preeminent financial planning firm and to build a well-informed databank that we can deploy to help clients reap benefits.”
Over the last 13 years, they’ve done just that. Van der Feltz is known in the industry for blending his business and finance acumen with a fervent interest in technology and the supporting role it plays in helping clients achieve their financial goals. His belief in holistic planning comes from a career focused on uncovering opportunities, evaluating efficiencies, exploring greatest returns and, very importantly, using technology to improve quality.
His tech savvy stretches back more than three decades. Starting his career at Exxon as an international auditor, he analyzed business operations and controls where his inherent need to problem-solve was born. Although fascinated by peoples’ financial decision-making processes, his passion in technology was ferociously ignited when the first computer systems were introduced, and, with them, the ability to crunch numbers and develop algorithms.
The more he learned about the role of technology in the financial world, the more he realized the untapped potential it could bring to the financial planning industry.
“Financial planning is an art. Pinnacle’s strategies are customized based on factors from clients’ risk tolerance and life stage to desire for involvement and investment experience,” van der Feltz says. “Technology has taken much guess work out of analyzing thousands of factors and helped us deliver best-possible options for our clients to consider. Proprietary industry resources have kept our finger on the pulse of real-time opportunities, while other programs — many of which we’ve had a hand in evolving — have helped us better recommend best-fit options.”
New tools are being deployed frequently, which brings challenges of implementation and transition. Although these resources are state of the art, few planners push them to the limits as much as van der Feltz and his team. The team recently promoted a support specialist into the role of strategy and product analyst, whose job is to integrate the latest industry technologies and software into each client’s personalized financial plan while also providing custom tech infrastructure and support for the Pinnacle team.
“We’re always looking at ways to push the limits of software capability, and have even collaborated with developers to improve responsiveness and solutions Pinnacle can offer to clients,” van der Feltz says.
Outwardly, a typical client meeting at Pinnacle may seem like friends coming together to talk about the ebbs and flows of life. Under it, the team is gathering vital information about their clients’ goals and life circumstances, each of which translates into formulas and algorithms used to put together comprehensive financial plans.
The team also provides its clients with specialized portals that allow them to 24/7-access to their finances. Of course, this comes with 1:1 coaching to help clients — however savvy they may be — harness the power that’s at their fingertips.
“Technology, and being able to maximize its potential, has been a boon to Pinnacle, giving us a unique perspective and leg up in the industry,” says van der Feltz. “That translates into happier clients who are travelling down the road to financial independence.”
Looking to the future, van der Feltz eagerly scans through the latest tech resources infiltrating the market and, with his mind racing, begins evaluating how he can further bring tech into the art of financial planning.
Lennard van der Feltz, CFP®, MSM, MBA is a Registered Representative offering Securities through UNITED PLANNERS FINANCIAL SERVICES, Member: FINRA, SIPC. Advisory Services offered through SEROS FINANCIAL, LLC. Pinnacle Financial Advisors, Seros Financial, and United Planners are independent companies.
View from the Pinnacle
- Lennard van der Feltz’s career spans more than three decades in the finance world, both internationally and in the United States.
- Starting his career in the financial world more than 30 years ago at Exxon as an international auditor, Lennard van der Feltz analyzed business operations and controls where his inherent need to problem-solve was born.
- Born in Curaçao, a Dutch Caribbean island, the former Navy brat speaks six languages: Dutch, English, German, Italian, French and Chinese.
- Employed by international firms, he has had the privilege of working in Paris and Rome, becoming well versed in international business.
- He played a key role in helping bring emerging technologies to the forefront, especially those zeroing in on artificial intelligence.
- He played a key role at TEAMS International, the developer of 360-degree job evaluation processes, starting with the emergence of Scantron-type evaluations all the way through online Internet evaluations.
- Leveraging his tech-meets-business savvy, he also founded KnowledgeTrax, a business development planning and technology consulting firm.