Ty. B. Kopke founded Silver Oak Leaf Financial Services LLC to provide comprehensive financial planning, specializing in small business owners and military personnel. Although he had several job offers from the largest broker-dealers, he wanted to focus on taking care of his clients rather than selling products and generating more assets under management.

While attending California Lutheran University, he was on active duty in the Marine Corps until 2020. After he retired from the Marine Corps, he interviewed with large brokerages. However, he decided to start his own practice. He has done “no advertisement,” and his goal for the business was “to take care of each individual client the way I want to be taken care of.”

Some of the challenges Kopke had when starting his practice was being independent because “I did not have a firm or staff to learn things, and everything was figuring out yourself.” The hardest part of running your independent RIA was “running the day-to-day business and integrating software.” The benefits of going independent allowed Kopke to network with other CFPs where he has “weekly meetups and share ideas.”

He advises, “Go work for another firm first, then go independent. I was in a different stage in life, and my niche was to serve military clients.” He was familiar with the pay system and benefits and provided the services they needed since he served in the Marine Corps for over 30 years.

His experience at California Lutheran University was phenomenal because the last half curriculum was CFP ® specific. The faculty was always available to answer his questions, the online work, the grading structure, and the interaction online proved to be a first-class experience, and “I had no doubt I had the knowledge sought out to achieve in the first place.” The capstone course was one of Kopke’s favorite courses because “it was putting it all together and creating an actual financial plan.” He uses the financial plan he created from the capstone course as a template when creating financial plans for his clients.

One of the leading industry trends in financial planning today is “from a technology standpoint, it is becoming more simplistic. You can develop a 100-page financial plan, but nobody wants those. When I started, most of my financial plans were on a Word document, where I would analyze, calculate, and take web captures of the charts. Make everything easy to read, and I have gotten more clients that want something visual and simple.” In the next 5-10 years, Kopke wants to continue working at his financial planning practice to work with 30 clients to ”dedicate my time once per month followed by a phone call with them. I talk to every one of my clients every month, and they’re surprised by that. I make sure they have 24-hour access to me.”

Kopke advises students pursuing their degree in financial planning “If this is what you enjoy, stick with it and do not treat it like school. Treat it as preparation for the next step because it is easy to go through the motions of school, but did you grasp the knowledge you need to do your job? That is what I liked about the MBA at CLU because you had business classes for the MBA, and the last half of the curriculum focused on the financial planning courses. That was valuable to ensure you had the knowledge and the skills to do the job.”