Insights & News

November 2015

FAI Insights Podcast: An interview with FAI's Mark Stinson


Q: Please Introduce yourself.

My name is Mark Stinson.

Q: Tell me about your role or roles prior to FAI.

My role prior to FAI was I spent 20 years in corporate accounting, working with technology firms in the Baltimore/Washington area. In 2002, I worked with an internet startup company that got one round of funding and was unable to get a second round. When that firm closed, I decided to do what I wanted to do which was financial planning. So, I’ve got 13 years of experience and I spent 10 years with Baltimore/ Washington Financial Advisors (BWFA) before coming to FAI. At BWFA I was a Director of Planning.

Q: Tell me about your current position with FAI.

My current position at FAI is Senior Advisor. As a Senior Advisor I work with clients to develop a financial plan and investment strategy. My specialties are: engineers and business owners in transition. Those transitions can include retirement, marriage transitions, sudden wealth and selling a business. I also work with clients who have elderly parents in transition. That becomes part of their life as being part of the sandwich generation (managing their parents and their children). We help facilitate that transition—we have a network of individuals that we call on for various phases of that transition.

Q: What do you see changing in the financial planning world?

What I see changing within the financial planning world is that clients are working more collaboratively with their advisors. We’re not so much advisors as we are collaborating on creating a plan that’s appropriate with them. With planning, we’re looking at a four-step process:

  1. Help the client prioritize their goals
  2. Create strategies to achieve those goals
  3. Work with the client to achieve the goals
  4. Monitor the goals

FAI’s financial planning is unique in the sense that we are a fee-only advisor, we’re only paid by our clients. We also fully integrate financial planning with investment management. Once we know the client’s goals and priorities, we’re able to create a plan and an investment strategy that helps them achieve their goals.

Q: Are you active in the community?

Within the community, I’m a member of two non-profits. I serve on the board of the Howard County Estate Planning Council as Treasurer. We work with financial planners, estate attorneys, insurance professionals, non-profits and trust officers to improve the environment and the quality of estate planning and philanthropy in Howard County. So that’s one way that I can give back to my industry.

I’m also a member of Making Change. We work to achieve financial stability for everyone. That’s another way that I can give back to my industry. I’m the Vice Chair and Secretary of that organization.

I recently spoke at Ignite Howard County, a nonprofit program where you just speak about your passion. My five minutes was on elegant simplicity—how to simplify your life and how to do it in a manner that’s complementary to your lifestyle. It was kind of nerve-racking but I got through it. It was pretty well received.

Q: What do you like to do for fun?

I’m an avid biker (bicycle). I bicycle to work in fact. I’m involved in that community also. I’m also a father of four young men between ages 24-18 so that takes up a large bulk of my time too.

Q: Are you originally from the Columbia, MD area?

We moved here when I was five so I would call myself a native. I can remember when 29 was all lights and I worked with a guy who said he could remember when 29 was a dirt road so, I don’t wanna go that far back.

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