By Bridget McCrea
When Raquel Hinman takes on new clients, she understands that many of them may be struggling with how to make sound financial decisions, address current challenges, and also plan for the future. “They’re coming to me for peace of mind,” says Hinman, president at Hinman Financial Planning in Erie, CO. “They’re just frozen, they don’t know their boundaries, and they’re unsure about what they can or can’t afford.”
Her deep interest in helping people comes from her own background, she says. “I grew up in a family that was dysfunctional when it came to money,” she adds, “and I think that’s part of why I really feel a calling to just help people feel more at ease and more comfortable with their money.” Overall, Hinman plans to keep doing a great job for her clients, deliver a better customer experience for them, and help them address their ongoing money-related issues.
For example, a few years ago, one of those clients consulted with Hinman about a $400,000 remodeling project that the homeowner was wavering on due to the size of the investment. “We sat down and did the projections and decided it was a good move for this particular client,” says Hinman. “Just last week she told me that her home is now a sanctuary that she absolutely loves, and thanked me for giving her permission to spend money on it.”
This is just one example of Hinman’s consultative approach to fee-only financial planning, a profession that she learned about by working for The Wealth Conservancy in Boulder. “We were working with inheritors, and that was my first foray into in-depth fee-only planning,” says Hinman.
After graduating from the University of Colorado with a degree in finance, Hinman began what’s now more than three decades in financial services. She held positions with Merrill Lynch, MetLife, and Portfolio Management Consultants (now part of Envestnet). She earned her CFP® in 1998 and started her own firm in 2015.
“I was at the point where I’d been in financial planning long enough that I wanted to give it a shot,” says Hinman of her decision to open her fee-only practice. “I had two sons in middle school, so I also wanted more flexibility to be with them and go to their activities and sporting events. Everything just kind of came together, so I went for it.”
Today, Hinman Financial Planning has 60 clients, $58 million in assets under management, and one part-time associate. Early on, Hinman focused on serving her local community in Erie, but she has since started working with clients across a broader geographic region. Most of them are age 50 to 70 and have anywhere from $1 million to $10 million in investable assets.
“I tend to focus on people who’ve gone through a major life transition,” says Hinman.
For example, she’s a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA) who doesn’t handle divorce planning but does work with individuals post-divorce. “A lot of them come out of the experience with a substantial amount of money, and they don’t know what it means to them. They tend to be overwhelmed and anxious and don’t know their boundaries,” she says.
Hinman also works with individuals who have received inheritances or experienced some other type of financial transition. For them, she serves as a partner and an advocate, and says this approach finds her operating in the “financial life planning” side of the profession.
“I’ve always been very focused on being an advocate for my clients,” she adds, “and being that one person who’s really looking out for them in all aspects of their lives.”
A NAPFA member since 2015, Hinman is also an XY Planning Network member. She says membership in both organizations has helped her grow her firm, and she particularly likes the “Find an Advisor” tool on the NAPFA website. “I gained so many clients through that originally,” says Hinman.
“Between the two groups, they really helped me build my business the first few years particularly in terms of the number of clients reaching out to me,” says Hinman, who also enjoys the study groups, camaraderie, and the way other members are willing to share their experiences and advice.
Once, Hinman was struck by a contribution on a NAPFA forum that was written by a member of NAPFA’s volunteer leadership. “I reached out to him and he took a couple hours out of his day to talk to me and help me understand what he was doing. He gave me some good advice,” says Hinman. “That’s something you don’t always get with other membership organizations.”
After getting divorced in 2018, Hinman quickly realized how few resources there were for single individuals who needed help investing, saving, and planning for the future. She also learned that singles—and especially older, wealthy individuals—often deal with more complexities on the financial front. She’s now focused on making more “space” in her practice to come up with content and solutions for them.
“As an adult, being single is oftentimes a point of transition. I think some people are happy being single, but others will want to be part of a couple,” Hinman explains. “These and other uncertainties can make scenario planning more difficult than it would be for, say, a married couple that’s planning for retirement.”
For her single clients, Hinman wants to be able to answer questions like: How do we talk about money with this new partner? How do we combine our money? And, how can we best manage our new, blended families? “This is something I have a lot of passion for and that I want to develop and do more of,” she says. “I’d love to do more to help people in that area. It’s really important and those issues don’t just go away.”
Graduation day for clients
As many solo entrepreneurs will attest, there are only so many hours in the day and available energy resources to be able to get things done. The more clients you have, the faster these resources are depleted. That’s why Raquel Hinman has taken to “graduating” clients that no longer fit with her business model. The need arose when her second employee, who was both a CPA and CFP®, left to start her own CPA firm in 2021.
“It was a great thing, and I’m excited that she made the move, but I ultimately decided not to replace that position,” says Hinman, who returned from the XY Planning conference in 2021 with the goal of operating as a solo/boutique firm (rather than as an enterprise firm).
“I came back from that pretty determined to get my client list to less than 50 and decided to call the process ‘graduating,’” says Hinman, who has already graduated several clients and plans to do the same with a few more in 2022. As part of the process, she’s also bringing in higher-revenue clients.
“Eventually, I will add another employee, but I’m not looking to do that right away,” she says. “I really want to do a great job serving people and having truly in-depth relationships with clients. You can’t do that if you’re managing 100–200 clients on your own.”
In some cases, graduated clients were suited for self-management of their portfolios through a resource like Vanguard. Others were referred to other financial planners. Hinman says the process has gone well so far. “It actually went better than I thought it would,” she says. “Of course, it always feels a little scary doing something like this, but it’s definitely been the right thing to do.”
Location: Erie, CO
Year founded: 2015
Number of staff: 1
Number of clients: 60
Amount of money managed: $58 million
Description of typical clients: Individuals who are age 50 to 70 who typically have between $1 million and $10 million in investable assets, with a focus on those who have gone through a major life transition.
Typical client needs: A partner and advocate who can help them navigate transitions and every aspect of their financial lives.
Favorite financial planning website: XY Facebook Forums
Favorite nonfinancial planning website: Wall Street Journal
Piece of advice to fellow NAPFA members: “Be yourself. I haven’t always been perfect with money, and I share that with my clients. You hear so much about the ‘best firms’ and ‘best practices,’ but I don’t think there’s any such thing as ‘right’ or ‘perfect.’ Everyone has to do what feels right for them. Just be authentic. There are so many different types of people out there, and if you just do what feels right, you’ll attract the clients who are right for you.”