Hello Affiance clients! For those of you who may not know me, I am Eric Unger, a Partner and President of Affiance Financial. I’m excited to begin a new feature in our quarterly newsletter – a “Message from the President.” This will be an opportunity to provide a glimpse behind the scenes of Affiance Financial. I’ll be sharing stories, trends, and issues that may not come up in the course of your financial planning meetings. I’d like to start today by sharing my story at Affiance.
When I think back on my career with Affiance thus far, one key lesson stands out: the importance of remaining curious. A sense of curiosity is key in an industry that is constantly evolving due to economic and regulatory changes. It’s almost hard to believe how much has changed in just 16 years. But these changes provided the opportunity I needed to find my calling and are what keep me excited about Affiance today, because they make it feel as though something new is always around the corner.
Chapter I: During my early years with Affiance, I wanted to be a financial planner focusing on investment management. I supported clients by preparing financial reports, attending meetings, conducting research, and trying to learn as much as I could about the industry. I learned quickly that the culture at Affiance is different. It is better than what I had experienced in the past because it is inclusive, prompted questions, and always puts our clients first. I was inspired by having a voice and this early experience has shaped my leadership style.
Chapter II: Everything seemed to change in an instant during the Great Recession, when in December 2008, a small handful of bad actors such as Bernard Madoff admitted to perpetrating massive Ponzi schemes. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission took decisive steps to reduce the chances such frauds would occur in the future. A new wave of heightened regulatory scrutiny changed the landscape of the industry and the direction of my career. I was approached by Andy Fishman and Steve Lear about transitioning to a role in compliance. Once there, I learned that professional, proactive compliance management affected all areas of Affiance and that if done well, it could become a competitive advantage.
Chapter III: By 2013 it had become clear that the firm’s advisory services were in high demand, and that growth was outpacing its business model. Massive changes were coming, with expanded advisory services though Affiance and the installation of a new business operating system – EOS, the Entrepreneurial Operating System. I gravitated quickly to this practical, powerful system and expanded my responsibilities with its implementation. This was a transformational, vision-building phase for Affiance. In February 2017, I was offered an opportunity to begin transitioning to the role of President.
Chapter IV: Building a lasting firm for its clients has been at Affiance’s core for two decades. To cement this ongoing commitment, in 2022, Andy Fishman and Steve Lear executed a plan to expand the partnership group to include myself and six additional members. Today, I am honored and proud to be a partner at Affiance Financial and look forward to continuing to build a firm that delivers an exceptional financial planning service.
Chapter V: It’s hard to say exactly – I won’t pretend to know what the economy or the industry has in store. But I do know that whatever comes next for Affiance Financial will be driven by our vision: to make lives better. And, that by staying curious, this team will be able to tackle many chapters to come.
Eric Unger, Partner, President, Chief Compliance Officer