Steamboat Financial Group, Inc., Washington, is celebrating its 20th anniversary this month.
Owner Mitch Martin has been a financial adviser for 31 years. He currently serves as branch manager for LPL Financial, and oversees the office.
When he founded Steamboat Financial in 1994, most firms had quotas and expected brokers to sell various products, rather than financial planning for their clients’ goals.
“Going with an independent firm that didn’t have quotas or tell me what my clients needed seemed like the best place to be,” he said.
Martin joined LPL Financial when he opened his business. At the time, LPL was a relatively small broker company with about 1,200 affiliates.
Now, LPL Financial is the largest provider of financial products to independent financial firms in the nation and the fourth largest broker dealer overall, Martin said.
Steamboat was first located at 317 Elm St. and moved to its current location, at 416 Elm St., in 1999.
The business has changed drastically over the years, from focusing primarily on individual stocks, bonds and mutual funds to shifting its focus now to financial planning for specific goals — whether it’s retirement, providing for a client’s children or a specific investment need.
“It was a transaction-based business,” he said. “It was considered to be a wealthy person’s business, but that really changed as 401(k)s became such a big part of everybody’s life.”
Now, his business is fee-based, which Martin said allows planners to be on the same side of the desk as its clients.
The firm employs 11 employees, including seven licensed advisers and four assistants.
Bill Boyd, the “adviser emeritus,” and chartered financial analyst, has been with Steamboat since its opening.
Matt Rufkahr, LPL wealth and retirement adviser, has been a company partner for about 14 years.
Martin’s son, Jonathan, has been with the company as an adviser for nine years and David Finck is in his sixth year. Both serve as LPL wealth and retirement advisers.
Mike Miller serves with the advanced planning department and is the operations manager. He has 30 years of experience in business consulting.
The newest adviser, Bruce Rutsch, has been with Steamboat for just over a year.
Other employees include MaryLynne Steffens, secretary and office manager; Cindy Holdmeyer, administrative assistant and assistant office manager; and Alberta Swetz and Julie Straatmann, both administrative assistants. Straatmann also serves as advanced planning coordinator.
“We have an absolutely wonderful staff and the most wonderful clients in the whole world,” said Martin, adding that many clients have become his friends.
The company is licensed in about 30 states and works with about 2,000 families, many with several accounts.
Martin said he’s proud to have clients he has worked with for more than 30 years, some of whom have accumulated a lot of wealth.
“That’s a great feeling,” he said. “We have a wonderful relationship with a lot of people because we’ve been such a part of their financial life.”
Looking forward, Martin said his goal is to make sure Steamboat Financial remains a viable institution, as well as preparing the next generation of Steamboat advisers.
“Twenty years from now the business model that we see today probably won’t be the one of the future,” he said. “You have to be willing to change as the laws, regulations and products change.”
During his career, Martin has seen the market rise and has weathered several downturns. He attributes the company’s longevity to doing what’s in the best interest of clients.
Originally from Arkansas, Martin graduated from Missouri State University (previously Southwest Missouri State University) in Springfield, with a bachelor’s degree in biology in 1973.
He was commissioned to the ROTC and served as a second lieutenant. After his service, Martin went into business.
Martin and his wife, Candi, have two grown children, three grandchildren and a fourth grandchild due this winter.
As part of its anniversary celebration, Steamboat Financial is hosting a food drive for Loving Hearts Outreach. People may drop off nonperishable items at the office through October.