Steven Rinn, CFP®

Principal, Senior Financial Advisor

Steve Rinn is a principal and senior financial advisor in the HBKS® office in Erie, Pennsylvania. He is a lifetime resident of Erie, began his career there in 2003 and joined HBKS® there in 2005. In addition to managing his own practice and clients, he works closely with the firm’s co-founder, Greg Sorce. His expertise extends to comprehensive financial planning, retirement planning, insurance and asset management.

Steve earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Financial Services from Edinboro University. He is a Certified Financial Planner.

Steve is currently serving as chairman of the board for the Edinboro University Foundation.

To what do you attribute the success you’ve experienced in your career?

In a few words, “strong client relationships.” That’s how I can add value to my clients’ lives – understanding what is important to someone and the lifestyle they live, how financial changes can impact their lives. I believe to be an effective advisor, you have to take an active role in their financial lives – and for me, beyond finances. I spend time with my clients outside of work hours and a professional setting. I’m friends with my clients, and that’s a big deal, because that’s how I get to know them and their lives, and by extension, their financial goals and needs. I can be more insightful about helping them plan for the important things in their lives. It reminds me of something I read a long time ago, from Dale Carnegie, that to be susccessful, you have to be genuinely interested in people.

What is the most fulfilling aspect about your work?

Helping families make financial decisions that lead to success – whether it’s an investment, personal finance, a tax issue, estate planning, insurance. It’s fulfilling to make a recommendation that puts a family in a better financial position. Sometimes we can take for granted things we’ve learned, things we’ve done for a long time, little things that might save someone a few tax dollars or get them into a better account. It might seem obvious or small, but all those little things add up to a lot of value for our clients.

Point is, it doesn’t always have to be a major change or decision. When I can sit with a client and solve a problem or add value, even in the smallest way, that’s real value. For example, I recently met with a client who wanted to know if he should take early social security for his wife and if he should use money from his IRA to buy a house. I steered him in different directions that will amount to a substantial financial difference in their lives. I just met with the wife of a client who passed away and helped her arrange the estate properly, things that were second nature to me, but were troubling her. It was good to be able to provide some relief and support at a time like that.

What would you look for in a wealth manager?

I would look for someone who is truly independent and a fiduciary. An advisor would have to be both before I’d even meet with him or her. You want to work with someone who represents you and will help you choose investments that are best for you, someone whose interests are aligned with yours. I wouldn’t waste time with advisors who first represent an investment product or a family of products. They’re compelled to recommend specific products because they’re being driven by their firm to sell those products, to meet sales quotas, and by their commissions. Being able to independently look over the full range of investments and find what’s in your best interests is extremely important. This is what it means to be a fiduciary, acting in a client’s best interests at all times.

What interests outside of HBKS® have affected your work?

My family. I have a great family life with my wife and my kids. I’m trying to make decisions for them that will help them have a happy life, trying to set a good example for my kids, like being honest and trustworthy. When you get married and then have kids, those responsiblities give you added insight and empathy for your clients and their hopes and needs. I was born and raised and have stayed in this area, and I work with a lot of the families I’ve known for many years. We’re all trying to do the same things, pay our bills, save for our kids’ educations, provide for a comfortable retirement. I like working with them, having that responsibility.

Some people in our industry are worried about the so-called “robo advisor.” Today’s tools and technology pretty much let you do your investing on your own. But I don’t think you’ll ever replace the value you get from a one-on-one personal relationship. Most people still want to see you in person. They want to be comfortable with you. They want continuity. They want a relationship. Most want to spend their time on what they do, not on these matters that they’re not expert in.