Growing up in Illinois, Pamela Lattinville was always proud of the respect and appreciation patients expressed for her father, an anesthesiologist. “I remember people approaching and thanking him for taking such good care of them, or someone in their family,” she says. “He made his patients confident that everything would be OK, and they trusted him.” Inspired, Lattinville imagined a career where she could earn people’s trust with her own expertise, but medicine wasn’t an option. “I couldn’t stomach the sight of blood. Fortunately I was a math geek, and after my first investment class at Georgetown University, I knew what I wanted: an opportunity to provide investment expertise to clients with no conflicts of interest.”
In 2003, after 20 years in the investment industry, Lattinville created the investment advisory firm she’d always imagined: Foundation Wealth Management (FWM). The name of the firm references what Lattinville believes is most critical to the business. “The foundation of wealth management is trust,” she explains. “It takes a tremendous level of trust to turn your financial life over to someone else, and we absolutely appreciate the trust our clients have placed in us.” FWM principal Matthew Hardin, Lattinville’s brother, serves as the firm’s chief compliance officer.
Establishing trust begins with the first client meeting, Lattinville notes. “The most important thing that we do is listen, and we listen really well! Our clients hire us to help them reach their objectives, so our first step is defining what those objectives are.” Lattinville believes this philosophy is what sets FWM apart from other financial service firms. “In many companies, a financial planner will begin by telling you what the firm does, rather than asking what the client needs.” Most of the firm’s new clients are referrals from existing clients, she adds. “It allows us to spend our resources—our time and effort—on our clients, and not on marketing. It’s wonderful to have that luxury—and it’s because our clients are happy.” The company has a 99 percent client retention rate over the past eight years.
A strong advocate of modern portfolio theory, Lattinville understands the uncertainty her clients experience in the current economic climate. “It can be challenging for people to understand that market volatility is constant, but things will turn around. You have to make certain, especially in retirement, to ensure enough safe money—bonds and money market funds—to make it through a market cycle. That really helps people stick to the asset allocation they’ve agreed to.” Because FWM has no financial products of its own, she adds, clients are directed to the plans and services that are best for them.
“When I wake up in the middle of the night— which you do in this business—you just want to make sure everybody’s OK. That’s when you realize the level of responsibility that you have, but that goes hand-in-hand with the level of appreciation that you receive,” Lattinville says. “When they leave our office, most of our clients hug us. I really love what I do!”