From Protecting His Country to Protecting His Clients Assets, Financial Advisor David Lee Helps Retirees Find Financial Peace of Mind
Former Air Force Major and Fighter Pilot, David Lee approaches his financial planning business with military-type precision.
David Lee, President of Beale, Lee and Associates, Inc, has been successfully helping his clients focus on a safe and confident retirement through proven investment strategies for a number of years. The firm is dedicated to improving people’s lives by helping them find financial peace of mind through sound investments that are structured to last. As an Investment Advisor Representative, Lee embraces his fiduciary responsibility to his clients and always places his clients’ best interests first and foremost. A respected expert in his field, he has become one of the leading financial advisors in the country. Utilizing his training as an Air Force fighter pilot, he enlists many of the tactical skills he obtained during his military service and applies them in his quest to protect the assets of his clients. Based in Bella Vista, Arkansas, Lee’s financial services firm works primarily with clients in Northwest Arkansas, but also has clients in various states throughout the country.
Lee, a 1996 graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, earned his Bachelor of Science Degree in Computer Science and went on to serve his country in the US Air Force and Air National Guard for over eleven years. During that time he was an F-16 fighter pilot and a T-38 instructor pilot, winning the Top Gun award multiple times. A moment of his flight career was captured for the local Air Force Base newspaper and later appeared on Wikipedia. The Wikipedia entry seen at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AGM-154_03.jpg is a photograph of Captain David Lee, an F-16C Fighting Falcon pilot from the 522nd Fighter Squadron "Fireballs", Cannon Air Force Base, New Mexico, as he releases an AGM-154 Joint Stand-off Weapon (JSOW) air-to-ground guided weapon over the Utah Test and Training Range. The mission was part of an Air-to-Ground Weapons System Evaluation Program (WSEP) commonly referred to as Combat Hammer, hosted by the 86th Fighter Weapons Squadron from Eglin AFB, Florida.
Lee says, “Having the opportunity to be a fighter pilot in the Air Force was a boyhood dream come true for me.” However, during his military career, Lee married and began a family, which changed the focus of his attention. He states, “While I love to fly and I loved what I did in the Air Force, I realized my family was the most important thing in my life. I felt it was very important to give my wife and children a stable home environment that would not have been possible if I continued my Air Force career. I didn’t want to have to move my family from location to location depending on where I would be stationed. So, I decided to leave the Air Force and pursue other avenues that would enable me to put down roots and give my family a place they can call home. My wife, Jennie, my daughter, Faith, and my son, Connor are far more important to me than any job I ever dreamed of doing.”
Always having an interest in the investment market, Lee gravitated toward financial services. After leaving full-time military status, he began talking with people in the industry to determine if it would be a good fit for him. Lee’s parents introduced him to their financial advisor, Chuck Beale, who gladly spent time with Lee and gave him a solid introduction to the multiple facets of the financial services industry. Much to his surprise, Lee received an offer from Beale to join his firm. Lee says, “Chuck has meant a lot to me over the years because he has mentored me and gave me an opportunity in this business when a lot of other guys would not have done that. I have a sincere gratitude for the time Chuck spent with me and everything he taught me. If it were not for his counsel, mentorship and guidance, based on over 40 years in the industry, I would not be where I am today. I’m very grateful to him. He and his wife Michelle have been a real source of encouragement to me.”
Lee finds that his experience in the Air Force as fighter pilot, as well as the planning strategies he employs, makes him somewhat unique in the financial services industry and he finds many parallels between his military service and what he does today. He explains, “I haven’t been brainwashed by the industry to believe the market always goes up, because it doesn’t. We primarily specialize in retirement income planning. We do have younger clients, but probably about 70% of my clients are in the retirement or pre-retirement phase of their life. We show our retirement clients how to create a distribution method that will be safe and last as long as they need it to last. We also analyze the future market using demographic trends. In the Air Force I was trained to analyze the threats I would be facing, know the capability and weaknesses of those threats, and create a game plan to accomplish the mission. The common tactic was to exploit your strengths against the adversary’s weaknesses and survive. Then, debrief your performance. We would video tape all of our missions in the Air Force. A debriefing would last about 3 or 4 hours from a one hour mission because you analyze every detail so that you get better every time you go out. I apply that Air Force approach to my business. I consider the market threats, the demographic threats, the threat of the Fed continuing to print money, and the list goes on. Then I look at the opportunity created by all those threats. With every problem, there is an opportunity. We analyze the opportunities created by all those threats and seek to position clients in a way they can survive and thrive in that environment. Then we continually review their progress to make sure the approach we established is working. If it’s not, then we adjust the approach. I believe we have positioned people very well for the environment that we’re in.”
Lee continues to expand on the reasons for his success, “Faith is a huge part of what we do. I think about how difficult it was getting this business started and as I look back over those years I realize God sustained us. I follow the directive in Proverbs 3:5-6, ‘Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge him, and he will direct your paths.’ I am very careful to give God the glory for the success we’ve had. I would never have envisioned myself doing what I’m doing now, but God has definitely blessed our business.”
He comments further on his relationship with his clients, “I have the opportunity to have very serious and open conversations with people. Chuck Beale told me, ‘You don’t get much closer to people’s hearts than when you deal with their money.’ I have found that to be true. It is something that’s important to all of us. It’s like what Zig Ziglar said, ‘Money isn’t everything, but it’s kind of like oxygen, you can’t really live without it.’ We’ve had an opportunity to have very deep conversations with people. We now have about 500 clients. But, they don’t just become your clients; they also become your friends. There are many opportunities to talk to people that are going through difficult times. It may be the loss of their spouse, the loss of a child, or another family member. Many times I’m more than a financial planner. When my clients need me, I want to be there for them.”
Lee finds the way today’s retiree thinks is much different than even just a few years ago. He comments, “Not too many years ago, if you were 65 and had spent most of your life trying to accumulate money and you’ve historically watched the market fall and then bounce back, then you go hear a former fighter pilot talk about why the landscape has shifted, not everyone was convinced. But, when the market downturn of 2008 hit our economy, more people began listening to my message and the more conservative strategies that I promote. My strategy is to shoot for a modest rate of return of maybe five or six percent, with a zero to low downside risk. The 2008 downturn actually brought us many clients.”
He continues, “Today’s retirees respond very well to my message about putting their money in a safe place. Since 2000, the market hasn’t bounced back as it has historically. I believe there has been a change in the market. Demographically we are a changing society. There are 10,000 baby boomers retiring every day. Those people are pulling money out of the market, not putting money in the market. They also aren’t spending at the levels they were previously. You have an increasing number of people over the age of 65 and a decreasing number in middle age where the bulk of the spending comes from. So, if we are going to have lower consumer spending trends in the years to come, then we are likely to continue to see lower corporate earnings and a market that struggles to stay even.”
As to future plans, Lee would like to grow his business regionally and possibly nationally, under the name “Mach 1 Financial Group.” The new fighter-pilot-influenced name and logo can currently be seen inconspicuously in the upper right hand corner of the firm’s website, although the actual name change for the firm will take place at an undesignated time in the future. Lee states, “I don’t know for sure where this will lead, but I have a strong interest in partnering with people of integrity and like-mindedness to grow the Mach 1 Financial Group business.”
Lee’s goals of future expansion are also influenced by his strong desire to help improve the lives of others around the world. If the vision for his business reaches the heights he expects, he wants to purchase airplanes that can be used on the mission field. He went on a missions trip in recent months and was able to see first-hand what is needed in fulfilling missions work around the world. He says, “It’s not about what I want to do, but more importantly, it’s about why I want to do it. I want to be more successful so that I can give more to others and help others.”
He continues, “One of my favorite verses in the Bible is Ephesians 3:20. It says, ‘God is able to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine according to His power at work within us.’ That’s what drives me to continue to excel. That’s been my theme verse since I’ve been in business. If God can do much more than we can even imagine, then dream big. Shoot for the stars. Have a God-sized vision. For me, it’s developing a regional network of advisors with the ultimate purpose of funding aircraft for use on the mission field.”
Lee also gives back to his current clients by hosting four client appreciation events every year. During their “Winter Fest” event, he brings in a Branson, Missouri show for his clients. They typically have about 800 people in attendance for that event. They also hold a client ice cream social in the summer and a client barbeque in the fall. The year is topped off with a client appreciation Christmas party in December. Lee says, “I really enjoy our client appreciation events because you can tell the clients really enjoy them and it’s our way of showing that we genuinely appreciate them.”
Lee has been a featured guest on a Sunday morning segment of Channel 5 News on numerous occasions, as well as being seen on channel 40 and 29 television news stations. He also is featured on the Financial Safari network’s weekly radio show. Additionally, he has spoken to many local service organizations as well as at the state-wide American Legion meeting. Lee is a contributing author, along with Tom Hopkins, to the book, Victory, scheduled to be released this year.
Because of his contribution to his industry and his outstanding success, Lee is being featured as one of today’s leading financial advisors in Newsweek magazine. Additional information about David Lee and Beale, Lee and Associates, Inc, can be found at www.bealelee.com.
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