Cal Anderson, CLU, CFP, always knew he wanted to own his own business but wasn’t sure what field was right for him. After graduating from Valdosta State University, he joined MassMutual and learned everything he could about the insurance industry while working towards his CFP designation. After five years, he was ready to grow and joined an independent advisory firm, Financial Network Associates, which offered comprehensive financial planning services. In 2016, the firm’s owner, Bill Youngblood, retired and Anderson took over the business, officially becoming his own boss.
A loyal NAIFA member since 2011, Anderson is one of Advisor Today magazine’s 2021 Four Under 40 winners.
Ameriprise assisted him with the purchase of the business, and he has been with the company ever since. “We integrated the way that we work into the Ameriprise system,” he said. “So I continue to run a fee-based financial planning practice where my clients count on me to help in all aspects of their financial life. I handle their investments and run all the insurance that I write through three brokerage companies, each specializing in either life, disability, or long-term care insurance.”
His practice is holistic, helping his clients evaluate their needs associated with estate planning, various lines of insurance, cash management, retirement planning, investments, taxes, and anything else that bears on their financial health.
“I was able to leverage my initial expertise in the insurance business and then take it to where I am now, which is helpful because I’m fluent in every aspect of the overall planning process,” he explained.
Many of his clients are between the ages of 50 and 70, though he works with people of all ages including some in their 20s. “It benefits our business to continue to reach out to younger people,” he said. “Most of the time they don’t know what we do because they haven’t been exposed to it. I try to work with younger people as much as I can just so they are familiar with the process and the value that an advisor provides. That’s often a big hurdle people face that prevents them from engaging with a financial planner when they really need us – they just haven’t been exposed to the type of work we do.”
Serving His Community
Anderson's clients are split between professionals, small business owners, and pastors. Financial planning for clergy members was one of his predecessor’s specialties and Anderson carries on his work. Anderson explains that pastors are in a unique position, and he incorporates aspects of small business planning while adjusting for the tax status of the pastor and the church.
“A pastor is similar to the owner of a small business or organization,” Anderson said. “I’m helping them build for their own future and assist with setting up benefits or retirement plans at their churches to benefit both themselves and other employees.”
Pastors are often so invested in serving their churches and congregations that they fail to consider their own needs, just like small business owners can be completely wrapped up in the success of their companies. But Anderson has found that pastors, like CEOs, are very good at delegating responsibilities, which makes them open to taking advantage of his services.
While clergy make up an important part of Anderson’s book of business, he doesn’t limit himself to any niche. “I don’t necessarily market to a specific group,” he said. Rather, he focuses his time on serving his current clients, and that leads to new business through referrals. “I will gladly have a conversation with a friend of my client,” Anderson says.
Serving Clients and His Family
Anderson’s motivation for being a successful financial advisor comes down to helping people, which includes both serving his clients and providing for his family. He is married with two young daughters and a third on the way.
“I was told years ago that if you get into the financial services business to help people, you’re probably going to end up making a pretty good living,” he said. “From a financial perspective, I want to take care of my family and do all the things my clients are doing, like saving money and retiring happily at some point. I work with so many people who are counting on me, so I also want to take care of them. I want to see them succeed and I like being a part of that.”
“All of that works together to sort of create a monster of motivation that really drives itself at this point,” he added.
Anderson understands that his knowledge and expertise are what make him valuable to his clients, who have their own interests and are wrapped up in their own lives. They often lack the time, ability, or desire to determine their own best financial course. That’s where he comes in and his experience works in their favor.
“When I talk to people in their 30s and 40s, I tell them that’s another aspect of what’s important about what I do. I work with people of all different ages, so I’m able to tell you what to expect and what you need to prepare for,” he explained. “I just like being that resource.”
Learning to Succeed
Anderson admits he wasn’t a born financial planner. While he liked numbers and the idea of finance, he knew little about the field as a potential profession. Unlike many people who become advisors, he didn’t know anyone – family members or otherwise – who were in the industry.
“I don’t know of anyone in my family who engaged a financial planner or knew anything about what a financial planner does,” he said. “And I didn’t know. I just started getting more interested in personal finance in college but didn’t know much about it. What I did know was that I wanted to run my own business. So when I was introduced to financial services, I thought, ‘That is the perfect fit.’”
When he started at MassMutual he worked hard to learn everything he could about the business. “Like I was drinking through a firehose,” he said. “Learning about industry products and strategies is the first step, but applying those in the real world is the challenge.”
Eager to build his knowledge, he learned about NAIFA from agency leaders at MassMutual who encouraged him to join. He embraced the opportunity to learn more about the industry and hear different perspectives from diverse speakers with valuable advice on everything from improving sales skills to managing a business.
“That was the best way to grow,” he said. “With all the folks that have been in the business for such a long time, you learn from all their stories.”
Meeting with his fellow professionals is what initially got him excited about NAIFA and what keeps him involved today. “That’s where I learned a lot,” he said. “I’m excited in 2022 about attending NAIFA’s in-person meetings as much as possible and just to get back to being shoulder-to-shoulder with other people in the industry.”
It’s important to his continued success. The knowledge, experience, expertise, and stories he has acquired over his career have driven Anderson professional success. They have allowed him to discover his calling and progress from being a student with entrepreneurial interests to a knowledgeable life insurance professional to a holistic financial planner whose clients know they can trust him with all their financial needs.