Goals Matter

By Scott Spiker


The Online Magazine from First Command Financial Services

In Pursuit of the American Dream

First Command celebrates 50 years of commitment to American families

What do we picture when we think of the American Dream? A land of plenty, a land of opportunity, a land where we are guaranteed the right to pursue our own happiness, and a land where, through hard work, we can provide a secure future for our families – unless something goes wrong.

In the early 1950s, Air Force Lt. Col. Carroll Payne had the occasion to work closely with families of several crew members killed in an aircraft accident. Saddened by the survivors’ financial difficulties and eager to help other military families effectively plan for their financial futures, Payne began laying the groundwork for the company he would launch in 1959 and which would grow to become First Command.

Payne started with a clear set of objectives:
» Provide the military family with their accustomed standard of living should the breadwinner fail to return home;
» Assist the military professional in saving for the college education of his or her children; and
» Give the military professional the opportunity to pursue financial security by the end of his or her earning years

While there have been a few refinements over the years, the heart of these three primary objectives remains the basis of the First Command Financial Plan. We continue to embrace the time-tested financial principles on which we were founded, advocating a disciplined, long-term approach to saving and investing, supported by strategies to manage financial risk. And we support our clients’ pursuit of their goals with a wide range of investment, insurance and banking products and services.

Today, First Command provides not only financial solutions for military professionals and their families, but we extend our 50 years of experience to the delivery of financial solutions for federal employees and life stage financial solutions for individuals and families from all walks of life.

We recognize that middle-income Americans are dealing with the growing challenges of a complex global marketplace and becoming increasingly interested in taking control of their own financial futures. We are ready to help, and are creating meaningful and lasting relationships with hundreds of thousands of client families.

» Pay yourself first
First Command was built on long-term investing. Dollar cost averaging and a “pay yourself first” approach have persuaded thousands of our clients to invest on a regular basis in markets both good and bad.

From the company’s early days, we have built the strength and diversity of our investment operations on partnerships with a number of trusted leaders in the industry, including Fidelity Investments, Franklin Templeton Investments, Pioneer Investments and Invesco Aim. Our independence from any single product or service provider has enabled us to tailor recommendations to the unique financial goals and circumstances of our clients.

» Expect the Unexpected
Early on, we recognized the need to include life insurance in a financial plan. Since the mid ‘60s we have promoted a strategy of permanent coverage supplemented by term insurance to cover necessary, temporary needs. Today, we offer a broad range of insurance products, including property and casualty, disability income and long-term care policies from a number of recognized providers rated Excellent to Superior by A. M. Best.

» Take it to the bank
First Command Bank opened its doors to active duty and former military families on April 21, 1997. And in less than six months, the bank was posting more than 100 new deposit accounts and 50 new loans weekly. Fast forward to today and First Command Bank now serves more than 150,000 customers and boasts assets of more than $500 million. And, while its market focus has expanded to complement the vision of its parent company, the bank remains dedicated to helping American families through financial solutions that are driven by the conservative, time-tested principles of disciplined saving and prudent debt management.

» A New Age of Financial Planning
One of the greatest forces for industry change came in 2005 when the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) ruled that all firms whose primary business is financial planning must become Registered Investment Advisers (RIA). For our firm, this ruling is momentous; it changed the minimum standard of care provided to clients from one of “suitability” to one of “fiduciary.”

Ahead of this ruling, First Command Financial Planning, Inc. had already registered as an investment advisor even as we continued to serve clients’ needs as a broker-dealer of financial products. Our Advisors were fully prepared to move into this new age of financial planning due to our long-time commitment to training, which dates back to the early days of the company.

Today, Advisors undergo a rigorous training process that includes the acclaimed Fundamentals of Success Course, a two-week program that is conducted in a state-of-the-art training facility at First Command’s Home Office. We actively encourage our Financial Advisors and Home Office employees to pursue advanced credentials—ranging from CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ to Certified Public Accountant to Chartered Financial Consultant—which contribute to our commitment to excellence.

Our role as fiduciaries is now supported by a values-centered financial planning process that allows First Command Advisors to work closely with clients, shaping their values, goals and priorities into a balanced plan designed to guide them along their lifelong financial journey.