In 2003, Kevin Bontrager hit a ceiling in his sales career. He wanted to help people in a more direct way, so he decided to become a financial advisor and created an independent firm. A few years later, Bontrager joined Randall Lehman, CLU®, ChFC®, AEP®, RICP®, and Rob Hayworth, CLU®, ChFC®, CASL®, AEP®, RICP®, CFP®, to create Summit Financial Group, a Northwestern Mutual Private Client Group. Now, Summit Financial Group has three Indiana offices in Fort Wayne, Angola, and Marion.
Making a Difference
Summit Financial Group has a four-step approach to client service: discovery, creative solutions, strategy deployment, and results management. The first meeting with a new client focuses on asking questions and helping clients identify what matters most to them, says Bontrager. Once they determine a client’s goals, they move on to developing a comprehensive financial plan and putting that plan into action. Bontrager talks about the importance of being a trusted advisor for clients, saying, “If we do the right thing consistently and operate with integrity—putting our clients' needs above ours—we're able to deliver on what we say we're going to do.”
Bontrager recalls an experience that influenced him, both personally and professionally. He helped a young couple set up their financial plan, including a life insurance policy. Late one night, Bontrager got an email from the husband. He had been diagnosed with late-stage cancer and wanted to make sure his policy would provide for his wife and young children. Bontrager assured him that his insurance was still in place and his family would be taken care of. A long-time advocate of adoption, the man spent his final years raising money to help bring Haitian children out of poverty and find adoptive families for them. Because of the plan they put in place, the man had peace of mind, knowing that his family would be taken care of when he passed.
The Value of NAIFA
When Bontrager started out in the financial services industry, Jeffrey Rapp, CLU®, ChFC®, CFP®, CASL®, RICP®, WMCP®—a Northwestern Mutual advisor and loyal NAIFA member since 1997—told him, “NAIFA is your career insurance.” In the years since, the opportunities for networking, education, and political advocacy through NAIFA have been instrumental in Bontrager’s career. Building relationships with other NAIFA members and hearing their different perspectives has helped him become a more well-rounded financial advisor, he says, and joining with Hayworth and Lehman to create Summit Financial proved a benefit to their clients as well as their business. He recommends collaborating with professionals with different specialties, saying, “Hitch your wagon together because you can go farther that way.”
In his time with NAIFA, Bontrager has served in several leadership roles, including as Past President of NAIFA-Fort Wayne. He has participated in NAIFA’s Annual Congressional Conference as well as NAIFA-Indiana's Days on the Hill. He talks about the importance of NAIFA’s political advocacy, saying, “I’ve found a significant amount of value in building relationships with our legislators,” he begins. “I get calls from our legislators periodically when issues pop up because they know we're a trusted source of valuable financial information and we work with their constituents.” As a NAIFA 100% Agency, the team members at Summit Financial Group benefit from all that NAIFA membership has to offer. For Bontrager, the most important of those is the opportunity to participate in political advocacy.
We’re #NAIFAproud to have Summit Financial Group as a NAIFA 100% Agency and are eager to see the great things they accomplish.
To learn more about Summit Financial Group, visit summit.nm.com