This post highlights the work of Peak Financial Management, a presenting sponsor at February’s “Business for the Common Good” event. Many thanks to Peak Financial for their generous support!
For some, financial planning sounds like something reserved for those with mounds of money and investment savvy. But for Nick Wolverton of Peak Financial Management, money management is a topic that is closely tied to living faithfully here on earth — to imitating God in our day-to-day living.
In a recent conversation at the Peak Financial offices, Nick shared how their team’s theological convictions form a framework for their work with clients.
Jesus had a lot to say about money, Nick observed.
From the rich young ruler to the widow’s mite he recognized the value of money. From wages paid from the land owner to the taxes owed to Caesar, he addressed the everyday concerns we all share.
“He talked about money with surprising frequency. It came up all the time during his ministry,” said Nick. “I think it’s because he knows us. He knows the temptation it holds. Money can be a curse, and conversely it can be a blessing. “
Money is the one subject that seems to have a love/hate relationship with not just people of faith, but in culture itself. Depending on who you ask, money runs the world or it is the ruin of the world.
“For us at Peak Financial, we see this [dynamic] play out every day. If we have [money], we falsely believe it can protect us from everything or that it gives us significance. If we don’t have it, then we pin all of our hopes on attaining it.”
He went on to clarify, “Money in itself isn’t bad. A dollar that sits in a bank account is morally neutral – it’s neither bad nor good. It’s what we do with it that creates the value.”
To Nick, the heart and the wallet are closely tied together.
“Jesus said that where your treasure is, there too will be your heart. So we encourage people to align their financial decisions with their values. It’s best when the two run parallel in the same direction.”
“Our clients are people who want to make good financial decisions without having to become experts in the field. But the whole world of finance, with its own special language, can overwhelm the just about anyone.” Peak’s goal is to help bring clarity to clients’ often chaotic finances and de-mystify money management.
While the three team members of the firm are Christians, they don’t cater exclusively to the church crowd. “Maybe 30 percent of our clients are believers. The others simply like our values, our principles, and the expertise we offer.”
The initial meeting with perspective clients is a time to help establish goals.
“We want to know what matters to the client’s heart, what’s important to them. If we help a client develop a plan that isn’t aligned with their values then we’ve wasted everyone’s time.
“People don’t talk even to their pastors about their money,” said Nick. “So we in some ways act as a confessional – a place for people to share their deepest concerns. There is a vulnerability when it comes to money, an exposure of their heart.”
Since financial planning involves such intimacy, Nick places a high value on relationship-building.
“It’s an investment of trust, one we take seriously. To talk about true planning, you have to have conversations that go beyond just the ‘return on investment’ and ‘wealth accumulation.’ Otherwise, it’s just a transaction. This level of discussion only comes only through relationships.”
On a personal level, none of this is easy – and he’s beset by the very idols of success he helps counsel others to avoid.
“The lure of financial security is real for me,” he said. “And I have to fight the urge to seek approval through the praise of my peers or my clients.
According to Nick, Americans have an attitude of self-sufficiency toward money coupled with a scarcity mindset that says, “there just isn’t enough to go around.”
Holding tightly to “things” can kill us spiritually and lead to an impoverished life.
“Paul is a great example to me, the ultimate money manager. He was content whether in riches or in poverty. He rested in God’s sovereignty. Contentment was his linchpin.”
What really gets Nick excited is when he can help people grow in generosity, what the Bible calls “being rich toward God.”
“The only thing that I have seen which can consistently break the grip that money has on our hearts is to be generous. To give it away and experience a deeper sense of God’s provision and the joy comes from trusting Him.”
Financial advice seems to be easy when the market is breaking records and housing investments increase by double digits every year. But compare finances to the journey taken by the ancient nation of Israel, which forgot God in the times of plenty and turned to him in the season of want.
“We can’t live by returns. We simply have to be wise and that’s a difficult discipline.”
Good work to Nick isn’t defined by the number of clients he gains or the gains in portfolios. He is working towards defining his life by a higher calling.
“I’ve been learning to take the long approach to my work. The Denver Institute has helped me understand that my first calling is to obedience toward God – and everything flows from that.”
When asked if there were any singular stories of change in his client’s lives, Nick thought about it, but couldn’t answer immediately.
And then after a few days he sent an email, answering this way. “I really hoped I'd be able to come back to you with some profound stories of impact. After reflecting with the team we ultimately realized we don't really have any that fit that description. The majority of our impact with clients happens over the long-haul. It's walking with them through highs and lows, repeatedly pointing them towards truth and wisdom.”
To learn more about Peak Financial Management’s approach to financial advising, visit them online or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
David Rupert is a Golden-based writer who has more than 2,000 articles on faith, culture and vocation published in a variety of publications. He is the community editor for the Denver Institute blog. Most recently he was content editor at the High Calling, helping Christians connect their faith to the workplace. He regularly writes for Patheos.