For local resident and financial planner Stuart Sutphin, there was a call to not only help clients with tax, estate planning and investment advice, but also to do his life’s work in his native Southern Virginia. After spending the first seven years of his career working in northern Virginia, 29-year-old Sutphin recently returned home to the Danville area, where he officially opened Open Doors FP last October.
“I’ve been in the industry since 2014. I grew up in this area and then moved to Northern Virginia after college to work,” Sutphin said in a recent interview with the Star-Tribune. “COVID has actually created a lot of opportunities to start your own business, as well as being able to do things virtually. By changing the American perspective on how people can do business, it has actually created a golden opportunity for start this business. I can use what I learned to come back to Southern Virginia, to bring what I learned to Northern Virginia. Part of what I wanted to do when I came back to this area was to bringing back a lot of what I had learned in Northern Virginia here. And COVID actually made that possible, if you can believe it.
Sutphin was forced into the world of financial planning while a student at Virginia Tech’s Pamplin College of Business. A conversation with a VT educational counselor opened his eyes to the laudable profession of helping people achieve their financial and personal goals.
“While exploring the different options that were out there, my academic advisor started talking to me about financial planning for people,” Sutphin says on his website, opendoorsfp.com. “He talked about the relationships and trust advisors build with clients, and how I can be a vital resource in helping others grow by helping them with their finances. I admit that if anyone was there, they would have seen my eyes light up and my interest arouse during the conversation. By the end of the conversation, I knew where my destiny would take me next.
Sutphin engages in all areas of financial planning, including estates, tax planning and investments, and specializes in assisting clients in managing their money in a way that provides security and prosperity to retirement. He works with clients throughout Virginia, as well as in North Carolina.
“I would say one of my most specialized offerings is being able to help people do tax planning — helping retirees avoid the tax bomb,” he explained. “Basically when you retire you have all these sources of income. And the IRS can take up to half of your income in taxes. So helping clients when they get distributions to get the most out of their money, managing things like that, that’s what I do.
Sutphin has worked with a diverse set of clients, from young couples with families, to widows and widowers who have lost a loved one. He has also worked with many retirees looking to make the most of their golden years.
“I’ve worked with families who have unique needs,” he says. “When they have kids, or lose a spouse or partner, stuff like that, you have a lot of need, and things change. So having a partner to work things out with makes things a little smoother. I also do it daily, so I can do it more effectively than maybe someone can do it on their own. I’ve worked with retirees from all walks of life – some with pensions, some living entirely off their investments, to Fortune 500 leaders and their unique needs and executive compensation plans.
Sutphin offers personalized, one-on-one client consultations, as well as the kind of direct interactions and customer service that one cannot always expect from large companies, where clients are often many or face the crowd.
“I do a lot of coffee tours, home tours, and virtual tours,” he explained. “I take a more medical approach when it comes to understanding my clients’ needs. It involves a lot of questions to understand what their background is, how they approach money, and what is important to them about their money. My main job when working with clients is to help them get to a place where they feel fulfilled and financially at peace, and where they can sleep at night and not worry about things. »
“It’s not just me putting them in the system and they may get an email from time to time,” Sutphin added. “I make sure that at least once a year we check that we’re still on track and talk to them directly one-on-one to make sure they’re getting what they need.”
Sutphin is transparent not only about the types of services it offers its clients, but also about the price it charges for those services. There’s a full list of fees from his website, opendoorsfp.com, and he’s partnered with a team of investment experts to help clients who might need help determining the best places to put their money. .
“I work with a team of people who do nothing but the investment strategy,” he said. “I have a network of people I work with to generate ideas and stay up to date. I’m not alone.”
For those looking for an advisor who will put their interests first, focused on achieving client goals and not just fees, Open Doors is an attractive option over larger firms that cannot offer the same kind of touch. personal, and generally provide inferior touch services for their price. Sutphin is also excited about the opportunity to provide his services in Southern Virginia, where he can make a difference and offer his talents in an area close to his heart, where he grew up.
“My profession has made an art of hiding how much they pay advisers,” Sutphin said. “So part of (the benefit of working with Open Doors) pays off. I believe that at a certain point we are not adding value, and it is more prudent to do things at cost. In terms of customer service, you can go to these big companies. If you just make investments and nothing else, they’re going to knock me out of the market all day. But if you want that personalized customer service, where you’re not just a customer – I know I work with you, I know your money, I know your story, I know your family, and I know where you want to go. When you call me and say, “I have this problem,” you’re not just talking to someone who has to relearn your situation every time. You talk to someone who says, “I understand.” I can help.'”
“One of my visions is not to charge customers more just because I can,” he continued. “I believe in a fair and equitable pricing structure. When I work with clients, I try to make sure I’m transparent about it. My prices are on my website. And I feel like the region is stagnating with young talent coming to the region. I want to bring all the knowledge I have acquired back home to grow the community, because there is a lot of potential here. I just feel like it’s neglected.