FIC Blog

We believe in – and live by – a philosophy of excellence.

Average is not good enough … Our goal at Family Investment Center is excellence. We find excellent investment products and supervise an excellent service package. We maintain a library of excellent research materials and financial planning resources. We also demand top safety and security for our clients.

We won’t settle for average. We continually seek top managers or securities and meld them into superior custom portfolios. Each palette of investments is carefully tailored to personal or family goals. We enlist excellent managers, research, resources, and effort for our clients. Don’t settle for average. You deserve excellence.

Please search our blog posts for answers to common investment questions, and we look forward to sharing our knowledge and experience with you first-hand.

Chris Danford Passes Series 65 Exam as Investment Advisor Representative at Family Investment Center

Danford to Help Women Make Unique Financial Decisions in New Position


Sept. 28, 2018:  With increasing media attention on the unique financial decisions placed in front of women, Family Investment Center announces the advancement of Chris Danford to an Investment Advisor Representative position. She became an Investment Advisor Representative for the firm in September, after passing the Series 65 Uniform Investment Advisor Law Examination.

“People don’t think about special financial needs for women, but I see it again and again,” says Danford. “Women live longer, may earn less over the longevity of their careers, and may move in and out of the workforce with small children. Decisions can be complex. I’m excited to offer guidance for these life situations and more.”

Danford has served the Family Investment Center firm since 2011 and is also Director of Community Relations. She will continue in this role in addition to advising clients about finance and investing.

“I’m excited to step into an advisor role,” says Danford. “As Director of Community Relations, I’ve watched the team work with clients for years. This is an opportunity for me to help clients directly.”

In her current Family Investment Center positions, Danford draws upon diverse career and community roles. She worked 29 years as a teacher, special education teacher and counselor in the St. Joseph and Park Hill School Districts and Bishop LeBlond High School. After retiring from Park Hill School District in 2011, Danford was an adjunct teacher at Northwest Missouri State University. She was elected to the St. Joseph School District Board of Education and served from 2012 to 2017. 

“I helped families for years as a school counselor and I’ve raised three successful daughters. Those coaching skills translate nicely into financial and investment planning,” Danford explains. “Some may think our business is about the numbers, but it is not. It is about the people. That’s my specialty.”

Reflecting her community dedication and volunteerism spirit, Danford has been active in organizations including CASA, InterServ, United Way, The Center and the Buchanan County Extension Council. She was the Missouri High School Counselor of the Year in 2009 and has been recognized as a Distinguished Alumni at Missouri Western State University. She graduated from Missouri Western State University in 1978 and earned an Master of Science in Guidance and Counseling from Northwest Missouri State University in 1990.

Family Investment Center, with offices in St. Joseph, Missouri and Lenexa, Kansas, is a commission-free planning and advisory firm founded in 1998. The company serves hundreds of families and other clients and manages some $275 million in discretionary portfolios.

“I'm excited to join the advisory team at Family Investment Center.  What a great time to help others achieve their financial and family goals,” says Danford.

About Family Investment Center 
Reflecting an unconventional approach to investing and financial planning, Family Investment Center invites clients to “plan for some serious freedom.” Now in its third decade of service, Dan Danford is Founder/CEO of Family Investment Center, a pioneer among commission-free investment advisory firms. Richard C. Salmen serves as President of Family Investment Center. Salmen also serves as the 2018 Chairman of the CFP Board national board of directors. 

With a team of professionals at offices in St. Joseph, MO, and Lenexa, KS, Family Investment Center brings a client-focused philosophy to individuals and families in the Kansas City area and across the country.

Media sources who have interviewed or quoted the Family Investment Center team include The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, CBNC, Barron’s, InvestmentNews, BusinessWeek, Forbes, U.S. News & World Report, The Kansas City Star, the Chicago Tribune and others.


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Family Investment Center Whitepaper Addresses Changing Role of Investors and Advisors

Whitepaper Highlights Key Observations on Fiduciary Standard and How it Affects Advisors 


Our investment advisory team at Family Investment Center has watched carefully as both the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission and Department of Labor have wrestled in the past year with changes to fiduciary standards. Among other areas, these changes may prevent brokers and advisors from offering conflicted advice (selling products to gain commissions) to investors. As a commission-free investment advisory firm, we have always maintained a client-first approach.

We stand as a beacon for the idea that a fiduciary standard does not eliminate quality investment advice for middle-class people in America. We have outlined these ideas and others in a newly published whitepaper titled “The Changing Roles of the Investor and the Investment Advisor: How ‘Conflicted Advice’ is Changing the Conversation About Investment Success.”

We feel that a strict fiduciary standard allows our clients to prosper. We recently crafted this whitepaper to highlight how proposed changes will benefit investors. The paper offers a brief analysis of the rules and some practical implications. This is a complex situation, and we hope you’ll share this information from genuine practitioners who are already making the fiduciary standard work.

The first topic in the whitepaper weighs heavily on a 2015 report from the White House that addresses potential losses investors see through conflicted advice. Remarkably, over a 30-year period, investors who take conflicted advice could see up to a 12 percent loss in growth potential in their IRAs. Conflicted advice can lead to less productivity because commissions motivate the advisor rather than recommending what’s actually best for their clients.

In fact, investors are estimated to lose around $17 billion a year due to conflicted advice, according to the White House report. Fee-based advisors are at the center of this controversy because they often operate on a commission rather than a flat fee, which can make them a non-objective source of investment information. Family Investment Center has always operated as a “fee-only” fiduciary, meaning that our advisors have never taken commissions.

Also covered in the whitepaper is the rise of robo-advisors. These are automated programs that really appeal to the DIY investor, but unfortunately are built on flawed financial theories.  For example, while Modern Portfolio Theory is intended to maximize expected returns while taking into account the amount of risk a client is willing to take, with robo-advisors, current market conditions are left out of the equation and the program doesn’t get to know the investor.  This impersonal approach is often inadequate.

The new fiduciary rule is also addressed in the Family Investment Center whitepaper. This rule would impact anyone who is paid for their advice regarding retirement plans. The rule would require that all advisors act impartially and in the client’s best interest. President Obama is working to fast-track the rule as the Department of Labor continues to gather feedback from the investment community and others.

Investors should seek non-conflicted and unbiased advice, found in investment advisors who aren’t motivated by a commission and instead work in the best interest of their clients. It’s the way Family Investment Center professionals have always operated, and it’s why we are able to establish strong relationships with our clients. Contact us today and let’s discuss your investment needs.


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Finding an Investment Advisor Who Knows it’s About More Than Just Money

What to Look For in an Investment Advisor Starts With People, Not Money


Professional investment advisors help people save and spend millions of dollars each year. It’s not just a career for many; it’s a passion that exceeds the typical 9 to 5 workday. They have thousands of conversations about money throughout their careers, and they learn to listen carefully. A successful investment advisor is an excellent communicator – but what other qualities should you look for when searching for an investment advisor?

Recently, Dan Danford, founder and CEO of Family Investment Center, shared his thoughts in a November 2015 Kansas City Star article titled “Your Financial Planner: Family Finance isn’t About Money.” Danford opens up about his passion for the industry he’s been involved in since graduating college. He mentions a New York personal finance master named Nick Murray, who said most people have the same five goals, but that none of these are strictly money goals. 

As Danford notes in the article, most people have similar goals in life. They want to retire one day and live a comfortable life, they want their children to be financially stable, they want to assist their grandchildren in their educational endeavors, they want their aging parents to be taken care of, and most people like to assist their favorite charity or cause. A good investment advisor can help with all of these goals.

Danford explains that none of the goals above are really about money; instead, they are about caring for people.

“In short, our success financially will determine, in part, our ability to accomplish life’s important objectives. The better we do financially, the more powerful our positive touch in the lives of people we love,” says Danford.


Certainly, investment advisors perform research and analysis tasks daily. However, money facts shouldn’t always be the focus, and a successful investment advisor knows this as they approach a client’s investment planning strategy. A focus area should include continuing education, picking up new information from investment masters, watching classic principles at work over the years, and being open to new ideas.

The tools to take care of the people you love, says Danford, aren’t all that complex. He suggests making rational investment choices, using simple systems, getting a routine financial “check up,” putting automatic investment plans in place, developing a smart spending plan, and keeping tabs on financial statements. He also encourages investors to change the way they view these tasks so that the rewards of focusing on what matters most (those you love) can remain at the center, joyfully.

Family Investment Center offers a team of professional investment advisors who are commission-free and know that investing is about so much more than money. Contact us today to gain a new view of your investment future.

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What’s Our Goal? To Eliminate Pain for Our Clients

A Letter From Dan Danford, Founder, Family Investment Center


b2ap3_thumbnail_Advisors-6.jpgInvestment advisors share similarities with healthcare professionals. We do a lot of work in the background that helps keep you comfortable and reduce your aches and pains. After many years of experience, I’ve watched people come to my company, Family Investment Center, after too many sleepless nights due to their worries over retirement and other financial issues. Family Investment Center advisors are here to take away those pains. Here is what we work to provide:

We provide expert guidance. After decades in the business, we’ve learned many ways to save and pay for education. Our advisors’ knowledge covers issues regarding long-term care or medical expenses. Lately, Family Investment Center advisors have worked with clients worried about market volatility. We know how to minimize risks without sacrificing success.

We ease clients’ pain. Some clients come in worried by a lack of diversification. Maybe you’re one of the many working or retired Americans stressed out over how much you’re paying for investment services or advice. We know what everything costs, as we use research software that tracks over 31,000 mutual funds, 20,000 common stocks, 1,700 ETFs, and dozens of investment indices– and we are totally transparent about our fees, which are never based on commissions or involve hidden costs.

We provide comfort. It’s a quality that our clients find extremely valuable. As fiduciaries, we have a legal obligation to work for your best interests. We take the burden of making decisions off of your hands while looking out for your best interests. Decision fatigue is a real problem for many investors, and we’re here to make it a non-issue.

We work exclusively for our clients. It’s something that comes as a shock to many who are burned by previous relationships they’ve had with brokers or investment advisors from other firms. One of the ways we reduce that anxiety is by being a fee-only advisor, which is unique in the marketplace as it puts the interests of the client first. We never take a commission, and we never push a product that may not be fully in your best interests.  In fact, we don’t sell products at all. Clients pay a small percentage of the assets that we manage for them. Nothing more. That way, you can see the direct inventive for us to grow clients’ accounts.

We cut through the noise. Are you inundated with noise about the market and various investment products? You can do hours of market research, but chances are your knowledge of diverse situations and market fluctuations won’t reach the level of a professional advisor with education, credentials, and experience. We have invested in our team’s advanced degrees and certifications to develop a thorough understanding of the investment process and the ability to put it into action for the benefit of our clients. (And, we have the passion to accompany that knowledge.)

Don’t burden yourself. Are most investors with basic investment and finance knowledge capable of making small investment decisions on their own? Sure. However, the subtleties are often hidden in distant shadows, but we know how to see them. Risks, costs, performance claims, etc. are aspects of the business that are lost on most investors, but it’s where we prove our worth. There’s no need to suffer from decision fatigue – leave these decisions to us.

Our price is right. Family Investment Center offers our services for a comparatively low price. Attorneys charge hundreds of dollars per hour, with often a settlement awarded at the end. Architects can bill clients for 15 percent of a project’s total cost. Our modest investment fees pale by comparison.

Specialized knowledge about IRA withdrawal strategies might save thousands in taxes, or add thousands in tax-deferred growth. How much is that worth today? Think how much suffering that much money might save thirty years down the road.

Simply put, we eliminate pain for a fair and reasonable price. A major aspect of our job is to know about products, fees, strategies, and options in the marketplace. We ease decision-making and simplify life, and that investment is worth every cent.


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Do You Have an Investment Advisor Who Communicates With You?

Four Common Misperceptions About Investment Advisors


b2ap3_thumbnail_Advisors-5.jpgIt’s easy to feel like “just a number” or to receive surface-level communication with the businesses you work with as a consumer. This may be acceptable in some roles, but what about the professional who helps guide you toward your lifelong goals? This relationship should be built on trust, experience and open communication at a personal level. When it comes to choosing an investment advisor, look for one that focuses on establishing a professional relationship with you and takes the time to talk to you about your goals and dreams.

As you consider choosing an investment advisor, or making a change, consider the following misperceptions:

Misperception 1: Registered investment advisors grow their business by focusing on performance. The truth is that quality advisors are improving their business by focusing on retention through customer service. It goes without saying that performance is important, but focusing on services for current clients should be a priority for an investment advisor.

Misperception 2:  An investment advisor who has been in the business for a long time can predict exactly what the market is going to do. The fact is, even the most seasoned advisors cannot accurately predict the markets.  Rather, one strength that a good investment advisor possesses is to keep clients from over-reacting to volatile markets. You want to look for an investment advisor that will guide you in not making investment decisions based on emotion, in addition to someone who will listen with an unbiased view about your goals and motivations.

Misperception 3: Advisors desire to take steps in line with clients’ wishes.  Maybe, but they have an equally important responsibility to offer unconflicted counsel that helps spell out how a decision, one way or the other, will potentially affect the clients’ finances and objectives in the future. It’s a relationship more closely related to a coach/player than employer/employee.  An advisor should tell you when he/she feels that your goals or behavior need adjusting. 

Misperception 4: Advisors should operate on the same general formula of communication. Advisors should know their clients’ communication styles and avoid over-jargon. They should also know what types of communication are most effective for individual clients. Some will want a regular face-to-face meeting to offer reassurance; others prefer receiving phone calls. Some might desire a letter, while others prefer very little to no communication at all. Look for an advisor that can communicate in a variety of methods. You have your own unique wants and needs, and an advisor who is focused on customer service will work to make those needs a priority.

As an investor, you may have your own communication preferences, but you may also have a distinct level of  knowledge when it comes to investments. Don’t let your advisor make you feel “lost” by complicated delivery of information – but at the same time, expect a level of information that aligns with your understanding. When it comes to sharing information, there’s a fine line. Advisors who are truly customer-focused will already know how to walk this line.

Family Investment Center has built a reputation on unique communication abilities. Our investment advisors are passionate about our industry, yet we know how to communicate information and resources in a “real-world” way. Contact us today and let’s discuss your future.


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