Neil Harnen was on track to be a doctor when some friends suggested his knack for math might make for a successful career in finance. His original idea to be a doctor stemmed from wanting to help people, but he soon realized that providing them with financial education and advice is also a way to help clients live secure and successful lives. So, he quit his job in a cardiac unit and got into finance. A personal tragedy also made him see the importance of financial planning, as well as the positive role a good advisor can play in someone’s life. His mother lost her husband in a freak accident, and, to add insult to injury, lost a lot of money in the aftermath because of poor financial advice. Neil swore that he would not let something like this happen to anyone else. And as a Sr. wealth advisor at National Securities Corporation, he is driven by this purpose as he manages his own clientele and provides financial planning services for any and all of the 40 advisors at his branch, as well as their clients. “We sit down as a team—me, the advisor, and the client—do financial planning that seeks to create a benefit for the client and meet their short- and long-term goals,” he explains.
National Securities has been around since 1943, and operates a number of firms. Neil joined them in 2019, and since then has amassed clients all over the U.S., whom he serves from his office in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois. “National Securities was looking for me because of my CFP credentials,” he says. “They formulated and crafted an advising platform for advisors to do financial planning for their clients, and there was a mutual attraction between me and the company and it was a good fit.” Prior to working with National Securities, Neil worked on the Chicago Board of Options Exchange for 14 years, and has also worked at a hedge fund, an institutional money management company, and as an institutional and retail financial advisor. During his career, he learned how high-net-worth individuals managed their money, and wanted to bring those skill sets to everyday people.
Hearkening back to his pre-med days, Neil particularly enjoys focusing on health care, and a large portion of his clients are doctors and other medical professionals. “I wanted to be able to help the health care industry more, so it is nice to sit down with people who could utilize my skills,” he says. Many of his other clients include small business owners, but no matter who he’s working with, he places a large emphasis on financial education so that they can design the best possible solutions together. This involves asking many meaningful questions and staying inquisitive to get important information about clients’ concerns, needs, and goals. Based on what he learns, he can pinpoint where clients are, financially, and seeks the best way to get them and their families where they want to be. “As a CFP, it’s about the client’s whole family, not just the client,” he says. “If we put together a good plan that helps all the family members, this is a benefit.” Neil’s whole approach is something he calls “intentional finance,” being mindful and open to create a personalized strategy for each client. “When you’re trying to do something that will be a big part of your life, such as finance, you should be aware and intentional. If you are not intentional, you will not get to where you want to go.”
In addition to working with clients and colleagues, Neil also has a podcast in the works. Called Boomers vs. Millennials, it examines the financial habits of each generation, how they differ, and where they intersect. He wants the podcast to be an educational source for people of all ages, and get them to not only understand financial advisory and become more financially literate, but also get them to start asking probing questions about their own financial habits. “People in this industry ask ‘How?’ but they should be asking ‘Why?’” he says. The podcast will be co-hosted by Rich Hackett, and will take an educational approach and provide tips and nuances, as well.
Neil also believes in giving back to the community. To that end, he serves on the board for a not-for-profit organization called Mutual Ground, based in Aurora, Illinois, which provides services and support for survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. He serves on three committees, including finance and fundraising.
SR. Wealth Advisor — National Securities Corporation, Member FINRA/SIPC; National Asset Management, a SEC Registered Advisor; National Insurance Corporation
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