Eric S. Callahan, owner of Lederach Financial, has committed himself to making a difference in the lives of clients in Harleysville and surrounding communities
by Bill Donahue

As morning comes to Lederach, a man named Eric Callahan awakens before dawn and reads the paper version of the Wall Street Journal. After getting his two children off to school, he drives three miles to his office using a bridge built before the Civil War, and then walks through the charming village to pick up his mail at the nearby post office. He then returns to work, located in a historic building dating back to the 1800s, to help plot out his clients’ dreams. In the afternoon he makes a house call to a client’s family farm, where he talks with them about their financial plan and, while he’s at it, lends a hand to help them relocate a few pieces of heirloom furniture. As evening approaches, he heads to the local baseball diamond, where he coaches Little League.

It’s a typical day in the life of Callahan, a man who has become not only part of his community but also a central cog in keeping the community strong, vibrant and focused on the future.

Callahan owns Lederach Financial, a financial services firm based in Lederach, a small but booming community southwest of Harleysville. To him, Lederach resembles television’s fictitious Mayberry, the kind of calm and quiet place that has become increasingly rare in today’s world. Eleven years ago, he came here to build something—and to help others do the same.

“I wanted to make a difference in people’s lives, and I feel like I get to do that every day,” says Callahan, a native of Findlay, Ohio, who earned his degree in finance and real estate from the University of Cincinnati. “Every relationship I have with a new client starts with a blank legal pad and a conversation. My goal is to learn more about what’s important to them and how I can help them get to where they want to be in the years ahead. For some people, it’s a comfortable retirement. For others, it’s saving for their kids’ college education. Whatever it is, I want to provide a plan to help them work toward making [their dream] a reality and do so in a way that’s easy to understand.”

Lederach Financial’s warm, welcoming atmosphere includes an open-door policy, which means clients often stop by unannounced when they wish to receive updates of their financial accounts or discuss issues that might affect their financial goals. Callahan says clients appreciate the accessibility as much as they do his down-to-earth approach to making sense of complex financial matters.

“I believe in a common-sense approach to helping people save for retirement,” he continues. “There’s really no secret: The more you save, the more you have. If one person saves $50 from their paycheck and the other saves $75 a paycheck, the one who saves more will ultimately have more. I think sometimes people can get caught up in overanalyzing every statistic and financial minutia of investing, but when it comes down to it, things like that matter less if you have a sound plan designed to help you accumulate more wealth.”

To balance this practical approach, Callahan is a Financial Professional of AXA Advisors LLC, a leading financial services firm with branches throughout the United States.

He has been firmly rooted in the financial services industry since 1996. Prior to opening his doors in Lederach two years ago, he worked out of the AXA Advisors branch in Bala Cynwyd. He continues to be associated with AXA Advisors and AXA Network, and utilizes their support in terms of investments, annuity and life insurance programs, respectively, as well as business and estate planning strategies. This association has been a boon to his clients. On a weekly basis he consults with two AXA Advisors colleagues, in particular—David D. Brain, whose focus is on advanced planning; and Jim Frank, who concentrates on financial planning—to help clients reach their goals.

“For example, if a client has just inherited money and wants to provide a legacy for their grandkids, I might turn to Jim and Dave and ask for their assistance, and if appropriate for the client, we’ll work together to set up a survivorship life insurance program or some other option,” he says. “When I was considering opening my own office, people would say, ‘Just be 100 percent independent.’ If I did that, I wouldn’t have resources like Jim and Dave to talk to for their additional financial and product insight.   Now I have the best of both worlds; I am associated with a nationwide financial services firm, and I also have the benefits of a truly local presence, which is a benefit to my clients in so many ways.”

His association with AXA Advisors also means Callahan can use Asset-Map®, a tool to help clients visualize their financial future.

“Asset-Map was developed by a Financial Professional like me, and it’s a way to help clients visualize their entire financial picture on one page,” he says. “As an alternative to a book full of charts and graphs that can be difficult to understand, Asset-Map enables you to see everything in your financial life—retirement money, investment accounts, real estate, life insurance, long-term-care policies, college savings plans—and create a road map that’s easy to understand.”

Such “bells and whistles” are incredibly helpful, but they are no substitute for informed, easy-to-understand guidance from a trustworthy Financial Professional. With Lederach Financial, clients don’t have to choose one or the other.

“My goal is to help clients as they make sure they don’t run out of money, and achieving that goal often requires having frank conversations,” he says. “It’s not always just about saving and planning. I think that, if you’re still in good health, you should go out and travel and use some of your money, because you never know when and if a health issue will arise to prevent you from doing the things you want to do. In addition to making sure your money lasts, I also want you to make sure that you enjoy it.”

Callahan serves clients in various phases of their lives. Early into his career he focused on retirement benefits for teachers. Although teachers remain a large part of his practice, his client list has grown to include people of all ages and backgrounds: professionals in their 20s who are new to the work force and looking to save for a home; young families trying to strike a balance between paying a mortgage, funding their children’s college education and saving for their own retirement; and those on the cusp of retirement. He also works with folks who are well past the traditional retirement age.

“No matter their age or their assets, I think it’s important to monitor plans often, so I keep in touch with clients frequently,” he says. “I like to do face-to-face reviews—quarterly, maybe twice a year, but always at least once a year. … You have to be patient and know that we have done our job and are thinking long term, and then let the market do its thing. If you plant a tree and want to see it grow, you don’t pull it up every month to check its growth; if you do that, it will never grow.”

Although he knew it would take some time, Callahan’s goal of making a difference appears to have come to fruition—whether by teaching today’s youth the vital lessons that come from playing team sports, by showing his own children how to thrive in a rapidly changing world, or by providing clients with protections such as life insurance and estate planning strategies to safeguard a family’s future.

“A lot of people get into this business as a second career,” he says. “I’ve been doing this my whole adult life, and I still love what I do. I get a lot of joy out of helping people in Harleysville and the surrounding area. Just like investing in the markets, I’m invested in my clients for the long haul.”

Lederach Financial
503 Salfordville Road
Lederach, PA 19450

Eric S. Callahan, David Brain, and Jim Frank offer securities through AXA Advisors, LLC (NY, NY 212-314-4600), member FINRA, SIPC. Investment advisory products and services offered through AXA Advisors, LLC, an investment advisor registered with the SEC. Annuity and insurance products offered through AXA Network, LLC.  AXA Advisors and its affiliates and associates do not provide tax, accounting or legal advice or services.  Lederach Financial, LLC is not a registered investment advisor and is not owned or operated by AXA Advisors or AXA Network. AGE-114007(04/16)(exp.04/18) 

Photograph by Jody Robinson