What trends, if any, did you see emerge with clients during COVID, and is that shifting now as things start to open up more?
There were multiple simultaneous dynamics that impacted people significantly during the COVID pandemic – especially early on. People were concerned about their health and safety. They saw the stock market take a dive. Their job security was impacted. They couldn’t see loved ones and friends. They couldn’t do the things they enjoyed or planned to be doing. The 24/7 news cycle was running rampant, and the political environment became even more toxic and polarizing. When people are fearful for their and their loved ones’ health, see their investment and retirement accounts take a hit, feel like their livelihoods are threatened and are isolated with a lot of time on their hands to think about it all, it creates a perfect storm for emotional issues and stress that can lead to bad decision making and panic.
One of the trends we saw was the need for us as advisers to be even more diligent about proactively reaching out, even if it was just to listen. People needed to be heard and reassured by someone who didn’t have an agenda and was on their side. We also found having all this going on gave us a chance to have deeper conversations and help people focus on what really matters most to them. It has been inspiring to see people have personal breakthroughs and make major life changes to bring their lives into alignment with what they value most.
From a business perspective, we were forced to blow up some of our assumptions. We are all about long-term relationships and have held almost all our client meetings in person. COVID forced us to use video calls. We were concerned we would lose something doing meetings digitally, but it has resulted in a really nice, convenient option for our clients. We can check in more often and answer questions with a quick video call vs. them having to take the time to come to one of our offices. Meeting digitally has also opened up the market for us to expand across the U.S. However, now that things are opening up, everyone appreciates meeting in person again. It’s great to shake hands, kind of like reuniting with friends you haven’t seen in a while. We have found we value in-person conversations and the convenience of being able to quickly connect digitally. I think this combination is going to allow us to have more meaningful and regular connections with our clients.
Tell us about faith-based financial advising and the difference you think it makes for clients.
We believe money is a means to an end, not an end in and of itself. When our clients catch this vision, it breathes new meaning into their plans, money, jobs and business success. Life is about so much more than just accumulating more and trying to keep up with the Joneses. It is about achieving financial peace and freedom, which enables us to make a lasting impact on the people and causes we care most deeply about. In the end, it’s about fully living the life we were each uniquely created for. We certainly believe in excellence in planning, investing and asset protection, and fulfilling our fiduciary duty to work in the best interest of our clients is a given. The difference faith-based financial advising brings is the inspiration, and it brings to the front the “why” behind all the technical planning, advice and investing techniques.
You mention on your company website that one thing you love about your job is that your clients are fun. On the outside, financial advising might seem straitlaced, so how do you find fun in your job?
We get to journey and celebrate with clients as they achieve their goals on a daily basis. It is fun to see people focus on their “why” and win at things that are really, really important. Helping rearrange their lives and leverage their financial resources to achieve meaningful things is far from straitlaced and boring — it is crazy inspiring and yes, really, really fun!
How did you get into CrossFit, and what do you enjoy most about it?
A few years ago, I set some fitness goals and halfway through the year I was woefully behind. I knew it wasn’t going to happen on my own. So I was invited to join Carlisle CrossFit. Even though I knew I wasn’t one of those crazy intense athletes, I joined and was able to hit all my goals before the end of the year. I love the fact that it is one hour, I don’t have to think, I just go in and follow the program for all-around fitness. The community is great and the results are what keep me coming back. It keeps me in great shape so I can keep doing all the things l love to do — I’m not as young as I used to be, you know!
About Doug Denlinger
Doug Denlinger, 52, is one of the founding partners of LifeGuide Financial Advisors, which has offices in Mechanicsburg and Carlisle. He is a Registered Life Planner, a Certified Kingdom Advisor, an Endorsed Local Provider and a Dave Ramsey SmartVestor Pro. Prior to founding LifeGuide, he spent 11 years as senior vice president of Manugistics Inc.
Denlinger has a bachelor’s degree in business logistics from the Penn State University Smeal College of Business.
He lives in Carlisle with his wife, Geralyn, and their two children, Josh and Sophie, along with an “already spoiled” Bernedoodle puppy named Ellie.