Kris Etter runs Beacon Financial Planners, his financial planning firm. He has over 20 years of experience in financial planning, insurance, and investments. He began his journey as an intern for a Broker Dealer in college. After college, he started his professional career at a large insurance company and learned risk management. He wanted to learn more about holistic financial planning, so he joined a small independent broker-dealer, where he was encouraged to earn his alphabet soup, CFP®, ChFC®, RICP®, and MBA. However, another broker-dealer acquired the firm he worked for, and “my staff and clients were not being supported up to our standards.” As a result of the acquisition, he started his own Registered Investment Advisory (RIA). Since then, “my clients and I have been very happy with this, and I can credit the California Lutheran University MBA Program for adding value to this decision.”

Although Etter already had the CFP® certification, he decided to earn an MBA in Financial planning to help take his financial planning practice to “the next level.” This program allowed him to “leverage his time efficiently” and provided live interaction with professors and fellow students.

Etter’s most significant influence in the financial services industry is his mentor at the small independent broker-dealer. “She encouraged me to get the CFP® and then get the rest of my alphabet soup based on the (target) client I served.”

One of the main industry trends in the financial planning field today is fee compression. “Even though this is designed to help clients, I feel it hurts them because teams are being formed to acquire assets under management. As a result, the individual planning is suffering.” In the next 5-10 years, Etter wants to take on one to two junior partners to potentially take over the practice.

One piece of advice Etter offers to students currently pursuing their financial planning career is to “use a prep course before sitting for the CFP® exam.” The CFP prep course will help students review the exam’s curriculum and practice questions.