Mark Balasa, CPA, CFP®
What inspired you to choose wealth management as a career?
When I began in the 1980’s, I don’t think there was a career path in wealth management. At the time, I didn’t realize that was a problem. I loved the idea of helping someone who didn’t know where to get an objective answer make a better decision. However, that simple task was complicated by the conflicts of interest that are almost everywhere you turn in this industry. The biggest thrill I get is when someone says, “I didn’t know that” or “no one ever told me that”.
What do you enjoy most about being a part of the BDF team?
The ability to leverage the experts in our firm and our broad network outside of our firm. Being able to get an answer to a problem from someone I can trust, a subject matter expert helps us better serve our clients.
What defines your own personal “full life”?
It has nothing to do with finances. A strong faith, a loving family, good health, and a job you love.
What’s the most influential book you’ve read and why?
The Diary of Sister Faustina. It helped me prioritize what is really important in life.
What was the inspiration behind founding BDF?
For me, it was born out of trying to solve a problem. When I got out of college and started working, my parents told me I should get life insurance. That sounded simple enough, but it led to a world of confusing terms, complex contracts, and impossible comparisons between insurance companies. I had no idea how to figure out how much I needed and, most importantly, I was leery of the insurance agents’ advice given. I felt that because my family, friends and I were all at a loss as to how to figure this out, there had to be a need that was not being filled. I never dreamed that simple task would lead to what has happened over the past 30 years and the amazing group of people we have brought together to essentially pursue the same task but in a much larger way.
Mark Balasa is known for asking his clients: “What is most important to you?”
Because he understands that decisions about wealth must be made with ever-shifting family, health and business priorities in mind, he goes beyond helping his clients address the financial implications of their investment strategies. He helps individuals and business owners think through the life issues that are so closely linked to their decisions about money, such as how a business opportunity can affect a marriage. In other words, he sees his clients as people, not as portfolios and basis points of performance.
Caring for clients and planning for their long-term interests are characteristics that unite all BDF advisors; they are among the core values that Mark and his BDF co-founders Armond Dinverno and Mike Foltz have instilled throughout the firm. Mark takes great pride in the fact that, because BDF advisors do not represent any specific investment products, they sit on the same side of the table as their clients.
As Chief Investment Officer, Mark leads the seven-person Investment Committee and oversees the firm’s overall investment philosophy. This firm-wide investment framework means a consistent experience for all BDF clients while allowing for customization at the individual portfolio level.
Mark frequently shares his knowledge and experience on the tax, investment, and estate planning implications of retirement, which he considers one of the “inflection points in a person’s life.” As BDF’s technology leader, he also has been asked to share his insights regarding how to use technology to effectively leverage the talent and capabilities of a wealth management firm. Mark has been a featured speaker on investment and technology topics with organizations such as Morningstar, the Financial Planning Association (FPA), Charles Schwab & Co., and Standard & Poor’s. He has been quoted in publications such as The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, Barron’s, Smart Money, Financial Advisor Magazine, and BusinessWeek.
Mark has been recognized as one of the top wealth managers in the country by organizations such as Robb Report Worth magazine, Medical Economics, and Bloomberg. He currently sits on Blackrock’s RIA Advisory board and previously sat on J.P. Morgan’s RIA advisory board, PIMCO’s advisory panel for RIAs, the advisory board for State Street Global Advisors, and the technology board for Charles Schwab & Co. Mark has written for INC. magazine website and publications for CCH.
Mark earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Central Michigan University and a master’s in financial planning from the College of Financial Planning. He holds a Certified Public Accounting designation and is a Certified Financial Planner™ professional. He continues to fulfill his appetite for learning about industry best practices by leveraging networks of experts within and outside of BDF. One of the peer groups in which he participates in the Alpha Group, a nationally recognized consortium of prominent financial planning practitioners.
To learn more about the BDF difference and how Mark can help you achieve what’s important in your life, contact him.