Being a great financial planning firm simply wasn’t enough for Centric Advisors in Houston, a NAIFA 100% Agency. Zac Majors, CFP®, RICP, CLU®, CLF, and his partner Oscar Mondragon, CFP®, zeroed in on what their clients really needed and built an innovative firm that provides families, business owners, and retirees with what Centric calls “financial life management.”
“Most firms fall into one of two camps,” Majors explained. “They’re either an insurance company or they’re an investments company and they dabble in the other one. We took this road less traveled and went the financial planning route.”
But the pair soon realized the concept of financial planning doesn’t encompass everything Centric aspires to accomplish for clients.
“‘Financial planning’ is really a buzzword in the industry,” Majors said. “Everyone says they do financial planning. Financial life management is a better representation of what we do for our clients because we’re giving them financial advice but we’re also giving them advice as it pertains to their lives. Whenever finances and life intersect and collide, that’s when we want to be there for our clients.”
Centric’s holistic approach boils down to helping each client live his or her best life. There are times when clients speaking with financial professionals are so naturally focused on money matters that they fail to see the bigger picture. Centric helps them set goals and identify their passions. Centric drills down on what clients’ financial success will give them and how it will make their lives better, not simply how they can grow assets.
“It’s living a life that’s full of passion, fulfillment, and peace,” Majors said. “Ultimately, that’s why Centric is in business, to help people live their best life. To get fulfillment out of life, to find peace, and for them to be able to pursue and do their passions. If we’re able to help people do those things, I feel that Centric is successful. That’s why we exist.”
A Beacon of Light in the Industry
Majors graduated Magna Cum Laude from LeTourneau University with a bachelor’s degree in Finance. He focused his post-graduation job search in Texas and found that none of the major energy firms or other large employers were hiring in their finance departments. Working in financial services was a longer-term goal for Majors, but he thought a corporate finance position might be more lucrative early in his career. The reality of the job market sped up Majors’ timeline.
“I wanted to be a beacon of light in the industry and help people with their finances, give them good financial counsel. I wanted to be able to provide that kind of guidance and advice,” he said. “My heart was there, and then the stars aligned to push me in that direction.”
Now at age 33, he is the co-founder and CEO of a highly successful planning firm. His career path has proven both lucrative and personally fulfilling.
“I’m still motivated by the rewards that this career has,” he said. “It’s too difficult of a career not to get paid well, but the extra dollar doesn’t do it for me anymore. It sounds cliché, but it really is the impact. It’s knowing that you’re helping someone.”
For Majors and Centric, building personal relationships with clients is crucial to providing financial life management. He smiled as he told a story of checking in on a client during the devastating Texas ice storms earlier this year. After the client confirmed she was fine and her house wasn’t damaged, she received great joy from sending Majors photos of her dog braving the un-Texas-like weather wearing a doggie sweater.
“I was happy to receive them,” he said. “Because that means to me, I’m going a lot deeper than just finances and I’m actually being involved in my clients’ lives, and to me that’s very rewarding. And that reward piece of our industry is really what continues to fuel my fire.”
The Centric Team
Centric has come a long way since Majors and Mondragon opened shop in a 90-square-foot office suite in May 2016.
“It was more of a closet,” Majors said.
Being in their late 20s at the time, they realized that many potential clients in their own age cohort had not acquired meaningful wealth and didn’t necessarily see themselves as being in the market for products like life insurance or investments. So rather than focusing on selling products, Majors and Mondragon provided financial planning services to clients who paid monthly fees. That’s where the financial life management concept took shape.
“What we found was that the implementation rates of all our financial plans went through the roof,” Majors said. “And that allowed us to place more insurance on families. That allowed us to manage more investments. And we started having a lot of success in the financial planning space.”
From this early success, Centric grew, adding professionals like Chief Investment Officer Richard Cull, CFA, MBA, and, more recently, Director of Insurance Richard Demko, LUTCF, LACP, a 2020 NAIFA Four Under Forty Award winner. Today, Centric has 17 team members with a range of expertise and specialties that help the firm deliver on its financial life management promise to clients.
Majors says Centric looks for specific values in team members:
- Personal responsibility. “If you’re a persistent finger pointer or persistent victim, then those types of people aren’t a good fit for this industry and they’re certainly not a good fit for Centric.”
- Coachability and openness to change. “When you close your mind to change, you stop growing.”
- Desire to be rewarded and make an impact on others. People who are too focused on making a lot of money for themselves or who are 100% altruistic don’t make good advisors, Majors said. There needs to be a balance. “We look for someone who is interested in the financial rewards of this business, who has that motivation, and who also focuses on the substantial impact they can make in someone’s life.”
- Entrepreneurial mindset. “Entrepreneurs are driven by the need to succeed and the desire to control their own destiny. Having an entrepreneurial spirit gives people no limitations on the profits they can make or the opportunities they can seek. It’s an innate, animal-type of spirit that you have to constantly be on this growth trajectory and to constantly seek out ways to be better.”
A NAIFA 100% Agency
The values that make each member of the Centric team a success also make them a natural fit as NAIFA members. They exhibit the drive, determination, success, and ethical conduct characteristic of NAIFA members across the country. As a NAIFA 100% Agency, Centric ensures that all of its advisors are active association members. They enjoy all the benefits of membership, including NAIFA’s state and federal political advocacy work, which Majors sees as an important reason for his and his colleagues’ success.
“NAIFA has been a very big part of that because of the advocacy,” he said. “I’m able to enjoy the benefits of this career because past people took the time to advocate for this business and for this industry.”
Majors and the Centric team understand that NAIFA membership is also a matter of professional responsibility, being a part of something bigger than themselves, and a way of supporting their fellow advisors and the insurance and financial services industry.
“This career has been incredibly rewarding for myself, for my family, and to all the stakeholders at Centric, so for us, it made sense for our whole firm to join,” Majors said. “It’s our little way of giving back to the industry that’s given so much to us and our families.”