State College

Financial planning firm opens in State College

A financial planning firm recently opened in State College.

VK Wealth Advisors, located in the Hamilton Square Shopping Center, offers assistance with several aspects of one’s portfolio, including stocks, bonds, mutual funds, exchange-traded funds and annuities.

Though it's their first business they’ve owned, partners Bruce Vinion and Marva King have been around the block. The pair has worked together for 30 years with names like Legg Mason, Merrill Lynch and Morgan Stanley.

Their move reflects a growing trend in the industry. More advisers are leaving Wall Street’s wirehouses to go independent, preferring flexibility and client focus over the more macro approach of the big firms. Gerald Strid, a former adviser for Merrill Lynch, told The Wall Street Journal that “big organizations can’t make their numbers and accommodate independent thinking at the same time.” In 2014, he left to start his own firm, which is based in King of Prussia.

He was 70 at the time.

“The large wirehouses cannot handle people like us,” he told The Wall Street Journal.

Vinion, 69, echoes those sentiments. With the “hybrid” approach he’s taking now — his firm has relationships with Raymond James and United Advisors in New York — he says VK provides the best of both worlds.

“So we’re a little company that behaves like a very big company,” he said. “We have the safety and security of a multinational financial services firm and the cost savings of a discount broker.”

Now he and King are bringing that versatility to State College. The client, he says, benefits from the combination of experience and financial flex, but also the more individual focus on his or her needs.

“A lot of people are leaving the big wirehouses and going independent,” he said. “We left and went hybrid.”

He added the firm also has relationships with Vanguard, T. Rowe Price and TIAA, which administers the retirement plan for Penn State University and Juniata College. At his previous firm, the latter was not in place.

But even later in life, it’s never too late to make a change.

“I’m 69 years old and I love this business,” Vinion said. “And I plan on working for a long time. We thought we needed to be in a little better place. This is a much better, more contemporary idea for financial services.”

Roger Van Scyoc: 814-231-4698, @rogervanscy