Meet Our President
“Many people go into a career and feel that is the end of their learning. In the financial services business and other professional fields, continued improvement, education and learning are a necessity.”
Robert E. Grace
JD, CLU®, ChFC®, CFEd®, RFC, RICP
MASTER ELITE IRA ADVISOR®
President and Founder of Grace Advisory Group
FULL NAME: Robert E. Grace
TITLE: President and Founder
YEARS IN THE INDUSTRY: Over 45
YEARS IN SOUTHWEST FLORIDA: Over 15
AREAS OF FOCUS: Retirement Income Planning and Wealth Transfer
EDUCATION: Juris doctorate, Chartered Life Underwriter, Chartered Financial Consultant, Certified Financial Educator® and a Registered Financial Consultant®, Master Elite IRA Advisor®
How did you first get into business?
In 1969, I was recruited by Manual Life insurance company in Cleveland, Ohio. I was the leading rookie agent the first two years then transferred to Columbus as a branch manager. A year and a half later, I was transferred to Cincinnati to take over a larger branch, which we took from ranking 48th in the country to eighth in less than two years.
What do you enjoy the most about the job?
I enjoy educating people about the alternatives that are available in the financial services world. We act as financial architects, making our clients aware of their options and helping them choose the ones that most effectively accomplish their financial goals. Counseling the clients through that process, which is completely different in retirement than it is in the accumulation phase, is a gratifying and challenging process. When we accomplish our goals, we send people home not only with products, but with confidence.
What’s the most important business lesson you’ve learned?
What works today may not work tomorrow. Therefore, an ongoing search for innovative processes, new strategies, techniques and products is essential. Planning for growth during a client’s working years is different from planning for preservation and distribution in retirement.
Our specialized way of planning for retirement has allowed us to help many retirees through their retirement with consistent income. Our clients were able to feel confident knowing that they had prepared for lifetime retirement income, which isn’t always the case for some pre-retirees. The good news is, it’s not too late (or too early) to prepare.
How is your business structured?
Every retiree has different financial goals, whether they be steady income, asset preservation, legacy transfer or all of the above.
This is why Grace Advisory Group takes a team approach. Each member has a focus in tax, finance or law.
The most differentiating feature of our firm is that we all share our ideas. We review the file of every new client once a week via telecommunication with all of our financial professionals. Combined, we have a wide range of experience and financial education that helps to provide what we feel are the most effective recommendations for each client.
We have three full-service offices in Southwest Florida that are staffed with professionals with over 15 recognized financial designations who cumulatively provide recommendations and solutions to help meet our clients’ financial needs.
What are some recent trends you’ve seen in your industry?
With persistently low interest rates and volatile markets, finding a consistent source of income for retirement has become increasingly difficult. For some people, the traditional assets for retirement may no longer provide enough income, which can lead to some taking on more risk or investing in new assets that are out of their comfort zone.
Unfortunately, most people only focus on one thing: the stated rate of return. There is a lot more to be considered when planning for retirement. Finding reliable and consistent income sources is very important.
Grace Advisory Group does not deal with the hottest trends or latest fads. We stick with our disciplined approach and leverage our experience and knowledge to maintain our long-term track record of success. We focus on consistent income from investment and insurance products more than on unbelievable short-term returns. Sometimes that gets overlooked when the economy is doing well, but we shine bright when the markets are volatile.
How do you expect the local economy to grow?
Florida is poised to be the most prominent retirement haven in the world. The sheer beauty of our beaches matched with the perfect weather make our area the promised land of retirement. These new residents will push the value of our economy higher.
What do you look for when recruiting advisors?
The most important thing is to find what I call “fire in the belly” or the “eye of the tiger.” Any intelligent person can learn practically any business if they have the propensity and desire to do so. However, passion and a desire to succeed are not trainable. The financial services business is a unique segment of industry and requires people with a propensity for numbers, a passion for helping other people and a desire to put the clients’ needs before their own. Continuing education, which is evidenced by credentials, is an absolute essential element for success in this business. Many people go into a career and feel that is the end of their learning. In the financial services business and other professional fields, continued improvement, education and learning are a necessity.
What would people be surprised to know about you?
When I was 6, I took my dad’s handkerchiefs, went up and down the street and tried to sell them. So, I have been an entrepreneur from a very early stage. I attended both undergraduate and law school all at night, and it took me more than 22 years from start to finish. I have over six recognized designations in the financial services industry, and I read about 15 to 20 books a year that foster additional skill sets. I have passion for the business and building the firm. Grace Advisory Group is a true one-stop shop for people who want the most out of retirement.
How do you teach people about retirement income planning?
The easiest way to learn about retirement income planning options is to attend one of our seminars. In an intimate workshop setting, we explain the pros and cons of the available investment and insurance product options. Interested pre-retirees and retirees can simply register on our website.