Ready for Anything
The professionals of Thrive Financial Services help their clients prepare for a financially secure retirement, no matter what life brings
by Jenny Graham

Skilled financial experts such as Bret Elam, president of Thrive Financial Services in Fort Washington, emphasize the importance of planning for the future, before a “what if?” becomes a worst-case scenario. Such instances can include downturns in the market, health issues and a host of other unavoidable life events that can take a serious toll on one’s present and future financial security.

In line with this, Elam explains that, at Thrive, the aim is to create guaranteed streams of income that will last a client 25 years or more, and which will survive any fluctuations that may occur in the market. This “safe money” strategy is designed, as Elam says, to make clients’ portfolios as “bulletproof” as possible.

“One of the biggest differences in what we do is that we try to concentrate on the distribution phase in someone’s life,” Elam explains. “This is different than the accumulation phase—the time when a person is putting assets away, and having those assets grow.”

To this end, Thrive places paramount importance on education. “It’s our job to educate people and hope they have an open mind to look at all the options,” Elam says. “The better educated a client is, the better decisions they can make. Most people spend more time planning for a vacation than they ever do in putting a plan together for retirement; you can’t stick your head in the sand and hope the problem goes away or take, as we call, it the ‘ostrich’ approach.”

As an independent company, Thrive’s financial advocates aren’t encumbered with having to push certain products or adhere to certain policies. “The reason we remain independent is that … we like to have every option in our back pocket,” Elam says. “We figure out what a client’s needs are, and we always have a product for that. We can offer any and all options as opposed to a firm that may only be able to offer what’s on their sales platform.”

Thrive further bolsters clients’ preparedness by ensuring that those clients have access to the company’s extensive network of professionals specializing in fields such as health insurance, property and/or casualty insurance, even long-term care.

Elam notes that he and his staff are always looking into new products so they can remain on the cutting edge for clients. “There are some new solutions out there that have features that weren’t available as recently as five or 10 years ago, specifically income benefit riders,” he says. These income benefit riders help to mitigate longevity risk by providing an income stream for the entirety of a person’s life.

Thrive’s emphasis on education also applies to how they approach clients, as well as the importance of what the staff can learn. Elam explains that each client has an extensive consultation with a Thrive professional so the company can see as full a picture as possible when it comes to a client’s financial needs.

“The easy part is looking at a client’s assets; the challenge is in analyzing the whole picture,” he says. “We will never generalize. We take each client through a financial needs analysis that is unique to their situation.”

Elam explains this “whole picture” can include everything from a client’s risk tolerance to monthly needs to, perhaps most importantly, the client’s hopes and fears and the plan required to address those scenarios. These hopes for the future can often relate to clients’ children. “So many times we’ll be sitting in front of clients and they’ll ask us to talk to their kids,” Elam says. “And, the earlier they understand, the better off they are. … You don’t want to wait until you’re in your 40s or 50s because retirement has seemed so far away.” Elam says Thrive has even seen as many as four generations of a family at once, with family members ranging in age from 20 to 80.

“We’re not covering everything in broad strokes,” Elam says. “We make sure we can give clients peace of mind.”

Thrive Financial Services
1015 Virginia Drive, Suite 210
Fort Washington, PA 19034

Photograph by Kim Billinglsey