BETH MILLER, INDEPENDENT CONTENT CREATOR
In the background of the Zoom interview, the decorations and personal items that mark David Wattenbarger’s home office are nothing out of the ordinary. A picture here. A bookshelf there. But what is not ordinary is the manner in which he chooses to work with his clients.
After working for others for 12 years, Wattenbarger took the plunge and opened the doors to his own financial planning firm, DRW Financial, in 2012. This departure allowed him the freedom to step away from a transactional role and to focus more on his relationship with the people he serves in the Chattanooga area.
“I built my current business so that I could have a certain number of client relationships where I could be more involved. This model allows me to be slow and patient,” says Wattenbarger.
DRW Financial is a fee-only firm, meaning the monthly fee amount is agreed upon upfront as opposed to charging a commission or transaction fees. He offers financial planning and investment management; however, he recently introduced a monthly plan to assist and educate young investors.
“Traditionally, the financial advice business has been built around people who have a lot of money, and the way advisors get compensated is by dipping into those assets. That leaves out people who are young and don’t have wealth of their own yet,” Wattenbarger says.
This new monthly plan is designed to help young people who have just entered the workforce perhaps while in or just out of college or those who have left the military and entered their first civilian job.
“There’s room in their budget to save, but they don’t know how. Some of my peers or competitors charge hourly, or they charge based on the project. There’s a lot of different ways to handle it, but I like the monthly model because it gives people time; they don’t feel like they’re on the clock for every email or phone call or video chat that we have,” he says.
Wattenbarger is now offering financial counseling services to his clients as a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA).
“I saw this opportunity to learn something new or deepen my knowledge of this area of finance. In a typical divorce, there’s stuff—maybe a house or a shared bank account. That’s one of the things you’ve gotta do is split up the things that have value. In some states, it’s more of a 50/50 approach, but in other states it’s more of a negotiated thing. Part of what a CDFA does, in a typical case, is they go through a person’s finances—both parties to the divorce,” he says.
According to Wattenbarger, the concept of a CDFA is not widely known. This new certification will allow him to offer services that have not found their way to Chattanooga as of yet like collaborative divorce. This approach to divorce provides both parties with the option for a fair outcome, “working it out in a peaceful and equitable way.”
Wattenbarger also offers free financial planning advice through different avenues. In the past, he has worked with organizations such as Money School, put on by the Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise, and The Chattery, a hub of courses offered to the Chattanooga community.
“Working as a consultant or an advisor is productive for me because I get to meet and see interesting people doing interesting things. I also get to bring my experience from my little corner of the for-profit world,” Wattenbarger says.
During a time when money is short, tight and even non-existent for some, DRW Financial quietly hums along.
“I think for a lot of people, COVID made our mortality more present. If there is a difference, it’s that people stuck at home have time to think about everything. We see on the news about home remodeling projects. Maybe there is a version of life remodeling.”
Visit DRW Financial to learn more about your financial future.