A Resource for Life
At Bala Financial Group, Joseph S. Little and his team of financial professionals provide clients a “Retirement Resource Center”
by Bill Donahue

As a financial advisor, Joseph S. Little, CLU, LUTCF, has one simple goal: to help others feel secure about their future—or, more specifically, to guide them in making informed decisions when planning for a comfortable and sustainable retirement. His desire is rooted in personal experience.

“While I was in high school, my father was forced into early retirement,” recalls Little, managing partner of Bala Financial Group Inc., which has local offices in Devon and Phoenixville. “No one was there to give my parents advice, and the decisions they made then affected them for the rest of their lives. They never had someone they trusted to sit down with them, look at their situation and provide sound guidance about the road ahead. If they had, they might have done things differently.

“That’s part of the reason I’m so passionate about what I do now,” he continues. “Every time I look across the table at a client, it’s almost as if I’m sitting down with my own mom, dad, wife or kids. I want to make sure I’m doing everything I can to provide them with the personal attention they deserve to make informed decisions about their future.”

At Bala Financial Group, Little and his colleagues provide structured, comprehensive financial guidance to individual investors, families and business owners. Retirement planning is the firm’s primary area of focus. In fact, the firm takes great pride in being a “Retirement Resource Center,” where experienced financial professionals create customized strategies that help clients obtain financial security and realize their dreams.

“We spend a lot of time in the retirement savings and retirement distribution planning area for our clients,” says Little, who manages his own practice and serves as the registered principal of the firm. “Everybody talks about growing assets, but that’s only part of the equation. Many of our clients’ biggest concerns are creating sustainable lifelong streams of income, as well as protecting their assets for their heirs.

“Getting to know our clients is the most important thing we do,” he continues.” Although retirement planning is first and foremost on many of our clients’ minds, we take a look at all of their financial needs. Whether it is planning for their children’s college, their parents’ potential long-term-care expenses or simply having adequate insurance to protect their family, our clients can have peace of mind knowing our recommendations are based on solid principles and experience.”

Shared Expertise

Originally from the Baltimore area, Little began his career in December 1988 as a financial advisor with John Hancock Financial Network, now known as Signator Investors, Inc. In 2000, he had an opportunity to expand his practice, though it required picking up his family—himself, his wife and their two children—and relocating from Phoenix, Md., to a new home in Phoenixville. Two years later, he added a partner and the practice gained a new identity, Bala Financial Group, Inc.

The practice has flourished in the years since, having grown to include a team of 18 advisors across six offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Locally, Julie Brufke-Wenger, CFP, heads up the firm’s Phoenixville location. The Devon office includes financial professionals Marc Lowenberg, M.B.A., CFP; Anthony Nicolai; Bob Riley, CLU, ChFC; Brian McKittrick, CFP, ChFC; and William G. Wilk, CLU, who serves as the firm’s CFO.

“We often take a team approach to helping clients,” Little says. “Each advisor has his or her own area of expertise, so we’ll collaborate to create strategies for clients that not only grow, protect and preserve their wealth but also help generate sustainable income for retirement.”

Bala Financial maintains its affiliation with John Hancock and Signator—essentially the same brokerage firm with which Little began his career more than 25 years ago. “We have a long-standing relationship with John Hancock and Signator Investors, Inc., but it’s important that our clients know that we are 100 percent independent,” Little says. “For us, it’s all about the client—that’s who we report to. That’s who we work for.”

Local Roots
Little’s roots in Phoenixville have grown deep over the course of the past 15 years. For several years he served as president of the Phoenixville Community Educational Foundation, a nonprofit organization that has raised more than $2 million to benefit students within educational institutions throughout the Phoenixville Area School District. Currently he’s a member of both the board of directors for the Phoenixville Babe Ruth League and the board of governors of Phoenixville Country Club, as well as manager of one of Phoenixville’s American Legion baseball teams.

In other words, Little has developed a profound passion for his community, a fact that has not gone unnoticed. His commitment to bettering his town resulted in the Mayor of Phoenixville presenting him with a Citizen Recognition Award in 2011. Also, in 2012 he received citations from both the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and the Pennsylvania Senate for his work in the community.

Of all his involvements, his time on the baseball field has been perhaps the most rewarding.  Baseball has been part of his life since he was first coached by his father as a 7-year-old. Fifteen years ago he started coaching his own son—now a 20-year-old sophomore at the University of Maryland—and has remained active in coaching in the years since. 

“I truly believe that sports can teach you so much about life,” he says. “Our players are learning not only about baseball but also about how to handle success and what to do when things don’t go the way you want them to. [Coaching] does take up a fair amount of my time, but it’s not a challenge if it’s your passion. It’s the same with my practice; I thoroughly enjoy sitting down with clients, learning about their lives and providing the resources they need to make sound decisions. People come to me and say, ‘I need to make sure my child can go to college, that my spouse and I can retire comfortably, that if something happens to me, my family is going to be all right.’ I believe it is my responsibility to help my clients prepare for whatever life throws their way.

“Our practice is rooted in understanding the people we advise,” he continues. “We may have two clients who are the exact same age with the exact same net worth, but we may have them invested in entirely different portfolios because their risk tolerance and life goals are not the same. At Bala Financial Group, we take the time to get to know our clients and help them build a plan that is right for them. Every client and circumstance is unique, so each plan is unique, and we think that’s the way it should be.”

Bala Financial Group Inc. has six offices in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, including these two in the Philadelphia suburbs:

208 Old Lancaster Road
Devon, PA 19333

300 Bridge Street
Phoenixville, PA 19460

For more information, visit www.balafinancial.com.

Registered Representative/Securities and Investment Advisory Services offered through Signator Investors, Inc., Member FINRA, SIPC, a Registered Investment Advisor. 208 Old Lancaster Road, Devon, PA 19333, 610-940-1000. Bala Financial Group is a separate entity from Signator Investors, Inc.  322-20150507-231559

Photograph by Jody Robinson