Celebrating 25 Years of Modern Wealth Management

By Chris Duderstadt

January 18, 2022

Celebrating 25 Years of Modern Wealth Management

Key Points – Celebrating 25 Years of Modern Wealth Management

  • What Led to Dean Barber Founding Modern Wealth Management
  • Putting the Client’s Interests First
  • Creating a Culture that Enhances the Client Experience
  • Helping Families Fortify Their Financial Future
  • What Makes Modern Wealth Management Unique
  • The American Dream Is Alive and Well
  • 5 minute read

Following His Vision

Leaving a well-paying job that supports your family might sound crazy to many people, but that wasn’t enough to satisfy Dean Barber in the early years of his career. As a father of three and another on the way in 1996, Dean told his wife, Kim, that he wanted to start his own retirement planning and wealth management firm and build something that was better than where he was. 


Dean followed through with his vision when he founded Modern Wealth Management 25 years ago. While serving as the firm’s CEO, Barber has been committed to creating a company that would live well beyond him by providing clarity and confidence to people so they can live their one best financial life. The team of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Professionals, CPAs, estate attorneys, and insurance experts that Barber has hired have helped him do exactly that. 


“I really thought there was a better way,” Dean said. “When it originally started, it was me and one assistant. My wife came in from time to time to help, we hired another assistant, and things progressed.” 


Laying the Groundwork at Modern Wealth Management 

Barber saw significant signs of his vision coming to life in the early 2000s. The firm had accrued an abundance of cheerful clients, who in turn referred more clients. He got to a point in 2003 and 2004 where he needed to hire additional team members to ensure that his clients would continue receiving a high level of financial education. Enter in Bruce Godke, Eric Sheerin, and Dean’s brother, Shane Barber, who were hired within a six-month period and are now partners. 


“One thing I had learned at that point was that there were a lot of financial advisors that had a lot of bad habits. My objective was to hire people that had zero industry experience and train them the way that I wanted them to be trained,” Dean said. “That worked well. If you would have told me at that point in time that we’d ever reach $1 billion, let alone $1.7 billion currently, I would have said that would be beyond my wildest dreams.” 


The Client’s Interests Always Come First 

Dean has a great deal of satisfaction in his firm’s success, but make no mistake, it has not, is not, and will never be all about him. As Barber made the transition from Waddell & Reed to being the CEO of his own firm, his focus was on keeping his client’s interests above those of the firm. 


“If you always put the client’s interests first, then you never have to worry about whether you’ve done the right thing. When you put the client’s interests first, they know it,” Dean said. “It’s important for everyone at Modern Wealth Management to reflect the firm’s mission. We must work collectively as a team.” 


Creating a Culture that Enhances the Client Experience

While Barber’s official title is CEO and founder, he considers himself as the visionary of the firm. It’s important to Dean for all Modern Wealth Management team members to understand what their role is and how valuable they are to the company’s success. 


“It goes all the way from the person who may be scanning documents or filing things to the person who is the receptionist to the person who schedules appointments. It’s not necessarily putting the financial planners in a more important role because their role couldn’t be done without the support of the rest of the organization,” Dean said. “It’s important to treat team members well by paying them well, giving them good time off, and offering flexible work hours. That creates a great culture that leaks into the overall client experience.” 


Helping Families Fortify Their Financial Future 

Barber has always considered himself to be a family man, and it’s paid dividends for him while serving as the firm’s CEO. Despite Kim’s concerns about how Dean’s career-changing decision could impact their family’s financial freedom, that was actually at the heart of why he wanted to start his own firm. 


When Dean was still with Waddell & Reed, he observed his grandfather worrying about running out of money during retirement. That didn’t sit well with Barber, and he didn’t want other retirees or soon-to-be retirees to have the same concerns. He knew he could help fix that by founding Modern Wealth Management. 


“It’s hugely gratifying to know that what we do makes a difference. It’s one of the reasons why I do what I do with such passion every day,” Dean said. “One of the big shortfalls in our society, country, and education system is the lack of financial education. Because of the lack of financial education, people don’t understand how money works. They don’t know where they are financially without going through our process.” 


Dean estimates that about 95% of Americans don’t have a firm grasp of what all needs to be considered financially when preparing for and going through retirement. And in no way does Barber blame them for that. He knows from personal experience that raising a family, focusing on a career, and simply trying to better oneself can be stressful, and that retirement and financial planning can often add to that anxiety. Dean and his team are always happy to help families fortify their financial future. 


“Providing clarity to people has been the most gratifying thing because once we provide that clarity, that then delivers confidence to those people, to our clients, and allows them to say, “Hey, I’m in control now,” Barber said. 


What Makes Modern Wealth Management Unique 

While many retirement and financial planning firms serve anyone who walks through the door, Modern Wealth Management primarily works with retirees and pre-retirees are who five to 10 years away from retirement. Modern Wealth Management aims to work with clients to provide comprehensive financial planning leading up to and throughout their retirement. The firm’s   integrated wealth management services encompass investment, tax, estate planning, and risk management. 


Barber and his colleagues have enjoyed helping clients achieve their financial goals during retirement by leading them through The Guided Retirement System™. While Barber and his team love meeting with people in person or virtually, they also provide comprehensive financial planning education via the firm’s radio show, America’s Wealth Management Show, and podcast, The Guided Retirement Show™. Modern Wealth Management has three Kansas City-area locations in Lenexa, Lee’s Summit, and North Kansas City, but its clients have lived out their financial goals all over the world. 


“One of my clients had a kidney transplant and his wife had cancer and is in remission. His wife badly wanted to spend winters in Florida, so we went through the planning process with them to show them that they can afford that,” Dean said. “The first year that they came back from spending a winter in Florida, I talked to them afterward and they said it’s the best thing they ever did. Without the planning, they would’ve never done it because they didn’t think they could afford it.” 


The American Dream Is Alive and Well 

As Dean reflects on the past 25 years at Modern Wealth Management, he is thankful that his scope of the financial industry has increased exponentially. Once Barber embarked on his own educational journey during the firm’s first few years, he started seeing the bigger picture and putting together his ideal team of colleagues. His coworkers’ respective skillsets and mutual passion to put clients first has proven to Dean and many others that the American dream is alive and well. 


“One of the things that has provided me as much education as anything else over my almost 35 years in the industry—and 25 years since I founded Modern Wealth Management—is what I’ve learned from my clients. I’ve learned a lot about the number of ways in which people make a living and how they earn and save their money,” Barber said. “I’ve taken those life experiences from the thousands of people that I’ve met with over the years and applied those life experiences to our financial planning process. There’s almost nothing that we haven’t witnessed, so we know what to do. That’s powerful.” 


Investment advisory services offered through Modern Wealth Management, Inc., an SEC Registered Investment Adviser.

The views expressed represent the opinion of Modern Wealth Management an SEC Registered Investment Advisor. Information provided is for illustrative purposes only and does not constitute investment, tax, or legal advice. Modern Wealth Management does not accept any liability for the use of the information discussed. Consult with a qualified financial, legal, or tax professional prior to taking any action.