May 25--There are leaders in the financial planning industry, and there are innovators. Curtis Cloke is both.
Cloke has been in the business for 27 years, created the Thrive Income Distribution System, is a national educational and motivational speaker, and recently started a new firm, Acuity Financial, in Burlington.
That is a long way from being a 21-year-old miner in the U.S. Gypsum plant near Mediapolis in 1985. Cloke got injured on the job and was on disability for a two and a half years. His insurance investment adviser, Leon Beatty, proved to be a mentor of Cloke's as he got him into the business as an agent for Prudential Financial on Nov. 9, 1987.
Cloke would later merge his practice with Cady Financial Services in 2004, which would become Two Rivers Financial Group in 2007. He moved his office from the Two Rivers location at 214 N. Main St. in Burlington on April 1, 2012, to 320 N. Third St. in the Burlington Building. It wasn't until this month that he officially separated his practice from Two Rivers to form Acuity Financial.
"Two Rivers was a great partner," Cloke said. "The time had come for us to be independent and allow our footprint to grow nationally."
Cloke already had a national audience, largely due to his developing the Thrive Income Distribution System in January 1999. Thrive is a way for an investor to save for retirement through income annuities, have a reliable income stream despite the stock market and keep most of his or her assets free to grow during retirement.
Cloke not only applies the Thrive system to many of his clients' needs, but takes it a step further. He has traveled the country to speak about Thrive to retirement advisers, estate advisers, legal and accounting professionals, and academics. This year, he already has held Thrive University seminars in Mission Viejo, Calif., and in Burlington. He is scheduled to hold two-day events in New York City, Chicago and Phoenix later this year.
Thrive consists of three components: a speaking and educational one; a software component and a custom analytic component.
To date, Cloke figures about 100 financial planning firms in the nation are using Thrive, and more than 1,000 advisers are touting its advantages.
"The product changed the face of retirement," Cloke said, as Thrive uncovered ways to invest money more efficiently.
Because of Thrive, Cloke has become an adjunct instructor for the American College, with the designation of a retirement income certified professional.
The American College has incorporated some of Thrive's content into its curriculum. Individuals can go online to take three 20-hour courses to become retirement income certified professionals.
Along with the Thrive University engagements, Cloke does about 35 speaking engagements per year. Some of the speeches cover financial planning and Thrive, while other speeches are strictly motivational in nature -- offering encouragement about perseverance in life.
In 2009, Cloke was selected as one of the top five financial advisers in the nation by Senior Market Advisor magazine.
Cloke plans to apply Thrive and all of his financial planning experience to his new enterprise, Acuity Financial.
"We've considered it for a period of time because of our national footprint in the retirement arena," Cloke said.
He considers Acuity Financial an agnostic financial planning firm: offering estate, wealth and retirement planning; business services; group medical and other services. The firm works with traditional equity markets, plus helps with 401k plans and qualified pension plans, which is a niche market for Acuity Financial.
Cloke chose the word "acuity" for the company name because it means vision and clarity.
"It represents our tag line -- helping define vision and clarity for your financial future," Cloke said.
Cloke believes the company's mission is to help clients reach their dreams by reviewing their assets, analyzing the true math and incorporating a plan to get to their dream. Upon retirement, an individual can find themselves living in financial scarcity or financial abundance.
"We help clients reboot that movie ... to live in a place of abundance," Cloke said.
When he separated from Two Rivers Financial Group and formed Acuity Financial, he founded it on two principles. Cloke wanted to maintain his promises to his existing clients, and make a commitment to the staff that no one would lose their job. The firm has eight employees on the sixth floor of the Burlington Building, including Cloke.
Cloke's son, Joshua, is an integral part of the practice. In addition to running the Invest Management Service of the company, Joshua also manages the Employee Benefits Division which includes group medical and ancillary benefit plans.
Curtis is finding other ways to spread the word about his financial innovations. He wrote chapter 7 in a friend's book, "Retirement Income Masters: Secrets of the Pros" by Tom Hegna of Fountain Hills, Ariz.
Cloke is writing his own book at the moment, tentatively titled "Retirement Riot." He was on a plane to California, reading an article on a French riot, which was based on changing the retirement age in the country. A picture depicted a violent riot where people were upset with the decision.
In Cloke's case, he has turned the word "riot" into the theme -- Retirement Income On Time/Target.
Whether it is his new firm, Thrive or the upcoming book, Cloke continues to innovate.
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