- Photos by Megan Casady
Convergence Financial pulls together multiple services, creating a single, smooth financial path for its clients who don’t have to travel it alone.
What happens when two seasoned financial advisors successfully running separate companies figure out they share a commitment to their clients and a vision to offer multiple disciplines to better serve them? In the case of Travis Cook and Adam Bethel, you get Convergence Financial.
Travis worked for Waddell & Reed for 10 years before founding Convergence Financial in 2016. Adam operated the Columbia office of Financial Planners of Missouri for 15 years before he and Travis decided their goals were so closely aligned that maybe their companies should be as well. The “convergences” haven’t stopped since.
“The original idea for Convergence was bringing together the three pillars of investing, planning, and service,” says Travis, the company’s CEO. “Adam and I had both been working along this vertical channel, growing our financial planning practices independently for the last 14 or 15 years. Now we’re bringing these businesses together and going horizontal by pulling in different elements. So, ‘convergence’ has taken on a bit of a new meaning today in that we’re converging some of these different business disciplines for the benefit of our clients.”
Convergence Financial, Convergence Accounting, and Convergence Insurance operate under one roof. The companies seamlessly provide investment management, retirement planning, financial and estate planning, full-service accounting, insurance, and annuities. Each service line is staffed by client-centered professionals who know their disciplines. Clients can use just one of those services or all of them.
“I like to describe it as an à la carte service offering where people can choose what they want and what they need,” says Adam, president of the company. “Whenever I’ve had the opportunity to work with other professionals on behalf of one of my clients, I’ve always found that we’ve been able to come up with a solution that was unique and better than what the two of us might have come up with independently.”
Taking Care of People is Job One
Adam and Travis also share a passion for client service.
“We’re building something that’s designed to help not only our current clients with financial planning needs, but also more people with more of their financial-related needs,” Travis says.
“The number one thing we want to be known for is just taking really good care of people,” Adam says. “If you just take care of people first, instead of worrying about getting paid first, they’re often going to realize what’s going on, be very grateful, and be looking for ways to help you out, whether that’s using other lines of service or referring another person into our ecosystem.”
That commitment to taking care of people begins with providing a free initial consultation to learn what a client needs. Unlike some other financial planning companies, Convergence doesn’t require clients to have a minimum asset value; although Travis says they have the most significant impact on clients with assets over $200,000, they work with clients who have far less, like the 17-year-old son of a client who came in to discuss investing in mutual funds.
Adam says that many of the company’s clients are in the age range of 55 to 62 and have experienced something in their life that makes them think about all of their “scattered pieces,” like investments, savings accounts, retirement accounts from multiple employers, or an inheritance. These clients are looking for someone who can pull all the pieces together to help them realize their goals, whether that be travel, leaving a legacy to their kids, charitable giving, or spending everything they have.
“I had a client who said he wanted the last check he ever writes to bounce,” Adam says. “Whatever it is, our job is to listen to what clients want and help them plan for that.”
Convergence and Collaboration
Collaboration of professionals in a single company is another example of converging talent and know-how to benefit clients, and it’s something Convergence is doing that’s relatively rare in Columbia.
“If you have multiple people working on behalf of the client, that’s where really great, comprehensive work gets done for that client.”— Travis Cook,
CEO, Convergence Financial
“The traditional way companies work is they form referral relationships with other specialists,” Travis says. “Sometimes it works well. Sometimes, I think it has a more adversarial feel to it, where I’m looking out for my client and they’re looking out for their client, and there’s sometimes a little head-butting that happens. What’s really exciting for us is that we have a team of people committed to a variety of client needs, and that adversarial feeling is gone.”
Bill Costello brings a background in client relationship management to his role as vice president.
“It’s great to be in a conversation with a client about their financial planning needs and have a tax question come up. It’s not uncommon that a financial planning decision has a tax consequence,” Bill says. “So we can say, ‘That’s a great question. Let me step out and grab one of our CPAs and ask them to join us right now to talk that through together.’”
Travis says, “If you have multiple people working on behalf of the client, that’s where really great, comprehensive work gets done for that client.”
The Present and Future Converge
The merger of Travis and Adam’s businesses was just the first step toward the future. They recently purchased the building that houses Sophia’s restaurant on South Providence Road and are beginning a renovation and expansion project on the south side of the building to house the burgeoning company. (Sophia’s will remain.)
Although Convergence Financial currently has loose referral arrangements with attorneys to handle clients’ legal issues such as wills, estates, and trusts, Adam and Travis say they might someday bring that service under the company’s tent as well. Any service that can help their clients is a possibility for growth.
Robert Frost wrote about two paths diverging in the woods and taking the one less traveled. For Convergence Financial, converging many paths into one smooth road is the route they want to create for what they hope are generations of clients. And that, to them, will make all the difference.