We believe that financial planning is a two-way street. It’s critical that we get to know our clients on a deeply personal level so we can help them make confident and informed decisions about their money. For us, quality financial planning is all about connecting your money with your values long-term, and we have to know you to help make that happen.
But it’s also important that our clients know us. You wouldn’t reveal your deepest hopes, fears, dreams, and desires to a total stranger. You want to confide in people you trust. We hope to be some of those people.
Establishing lasting lifelong relationships with clients fills our cups, which is why we wanted to take you behind the scenes of our TFS team so you can learn a little more about us and why we love serving the Edmonds community and beyond.
Today, we’ll start with our Vice President of Financial Planning and Co-Owner, Aaron Terwedo.
This week, we sat down to speak with Aaron about his goals and passions both professionally and personally, and how financial planning has changed the course of his life for the better. His story will take you on a journey from the West Coast to Iraq to a sweet family house nestled in Snohomish county. Let’s dive in.
Question: What is your career history?
Answer: When I first started out, I didn’t know what I would do for the rest of my life but I did know that wherever I ended up, I wanted to do some good in the world. This desire to help others led me down a winding path, so let’s start at the beginning.
After high school, I worked as a busser at a chain restaurant. Coincidentally, the building was in the same plaza as a military recruitment office for the Navy, Marines, and the Army. Needing a break from a particularly rough shift, I marched to the recruiting office to hear what they had to say.
It was clear within a minute or so that the Marines and the Navy weren’t for me, but I was intrigued by the discussion I had with the Army recruiter. There were several jobs in artillery, which made my 18-year-old-self excited. They were also offering a $2,000 sign-on/enlistment bonus. Strapped for cash, I wanted to be in a better position financially after serving, so I decided to enlist.
My ultimate motivation for joining the Army was to help people, which is something I can say I did. I served 4 overseas tours, one to Korea, three to Iraq, and was stationed across the U.S as well. While war always has its dark moments, I can still remember sitting in different people’s houses sharing meals, laughter, and community. Finding those connections is something I’ll always hold dear.
After almost 8 years of service, I was financially and emotionally ready to start the next phase of my life—finish my degree and start a family. I earned my degree in criminal justice with the intent to pursue law enforcement—another career path designed to bring good into the world.
But police work is hard on the mind and the body and that just wasn’t the type of position I could see myself growing into and being fulfilled with long-term. I moved back to Washington for a clean slate—who knew it would be one of the best decisions I ever made.
I reconnected with and married my high school sweetheart and began working with my dad in the financial planning office. I could see the impact that he made on his clients and thought that this could be an avenue to help people and do good in lasting and meaningful ways.
In 2013 I received my paraplanner designation and began being involved in client meetings. I worked my way up to becoming an advisor and now co-owner of TFS.
Question: What drew you to financial planning?
For me, financial planning has always been about helping people find the connections between their life and their money. For example, giving people the space to envision what their retirement might look like and then actually taking concrete steps to help them live it.
Financial planning can be transformative, turning a client’s vision into their reality. It’s the joy on someone’s face when you show them that they could retire tomorrow if they wanted. It’s the freedom that financial confidence can bring to people’s lives. You can see it on their faces, in their body language, the way they talk about their money, and the habits they form. It’s really inspiring to watch the story unfold.
I also want clients to feel comfortable calling me up to talk about their money. One client called me and said that an insurance agent sold her a costly and completely unnecessary extended warranty policy on her very old (15-20 years) vehicle. Appalled, I asked her permission to look at the policy and give the agent a call. The bottom line is that she got all of her money back.
During COVID-19, I also helped two clients, who were apprehensive about buying a car, go car shopping. We went to the lot and I helped them negotiate good and fair prices, so they walked (or drove) away happy and confident.
I like to treat all of my clients like family. I care that they get a good deal on their cars or that their insurance coverage is appropriate for their situation or that their cash flow lets them live their retirement.
Question: How has financial planning impacted your life personally?
Financial planning is all about improving people’s quality of life and that extends to my family as well. I have three special needs kids, so my outlook on my financial future is different as I want to support not only myself and my wife but also our three children.
A special needs diagnosis is lifelong and that comes with a laundry list of doctor’s appointments, treatments, and milestones. Beyond the doctor’s office, there is a real possibility that my kids won’t be able to work full time to support themselves and I want to be able to save enough to give them the quality of life they deserve.
Navigating the world with the special needs community gives me and my family a different perspective on financial clarity and freedom. I hope to serve more special needs families in the future.
I’m passionate about serving these people because there are so many unique concerns and opportunities to plan for along the way. Having your finances in order is a huge stress-reliever. It can give special needs families the space, permission, and freedom to go out and enjoy their lives.
To pursue this goal, I’m working for my Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC) designation and will then add on a special needs designation as well. Special needs families are a vibrant and diverse community and I’d love the opportunity to share the joy and freedom that strong financial planning brought to my family with others like mine.
Question: Tell us a little bit more about your family
On a warm Washington summer night in between guitar strums, major chords, and soft vocals at a Creation concert, I met the love of my life. We dated after high school but spent time apart when I enlisted in the army. After the military, we reconnected as I was finishing my degree and a short time later we moved back to Washington and got married.
Our three kids Graham, Channing, and Oakley keep us busy and happy—we wouldn’t have it any other way. Each of my three kids was diagnosed with autism along with other diagnoses resulting in about 15 doctors’ appointments per week. Our youngest son, who is 3 ½, took his first steps the other day, which was a huge milestone.
We are long-time residents of Snohomish county and love spending time relaxing and decompressing with the kids. We take family walks together and especially enjoy time in our garden.
Question: What are your hobbies outside of the office?
In the pandemic, remodels have certainly been on everyone’s mind and the same was true for our family. We are currently remodeling the inside of the house and my wife and I enjoy doing yard work together.
We never take our family walks for granted. It’s so nice for all of us to spend time together since our weeks are usually hectic. A lot of our family lives close, so we also spend a lot of time with our parents and extended family.
I also love going to sporting events—it’s so fun being a fan!
We also find great joy in giving back to the community. I’m currently involved as a trustee in the local school district board. The special needs school system is underfunded and greatly benefits from added resources to help teachers provide quality education. I’m on the scholarship committee that extends grants for teachers to pay for supplies, training, etc. for projects they want to do with the kids. The running joke between myself and the executive director is that she asked me to become a part of the community because I kept asking so many questions! Lesson learned: questions = commitment.
I’ve also been involved with the local leukemia and lymphoma chapter, serve at the Foodbank, and every year we participate in Christmas House, an organization that brings gifts to children over the holidays.
Question: What are your professional goals for yourself and TFS?
My broad goal for the company is to serve as many families as we can without losing the small-town family office approach. We have always provided excellent service to clients and I know that will continue as our team moves into the future.
I love being in a small office where people always know they will be taken care of genuinely and diligently. I don’t want to have to dig through a file to remember my clients’ children’s names. I want to be able to converse openly and honestly with every client who walks through our doors.
In the next 2-3 years, we also plan to bring on another advisor to keep the business running smoothly. Fit is extremely important to us and it’s critical that this new advisor share our values that we’ve worked so hard to cultivate.
We don’t have to be a billion-dollar firm to be happy and fulfilled. I’m a big proponent of work-life balance because I want to prioritize the time I have with my family—I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Aaron’s commitment to making people’s lives better had led him to have extraordinary life experiences. We’re so appreciative of the vision, talent, and heart he brings to the office.
What did we learn about Aaron today?
- His desire to help people led him to pursue financial planning as a profession.
- With three special needs kids, Aaron knows firsthand the value of a robust financial plan and wants to bring that confidence and freedom to other special needs families.
- Aaron is working to secure his ChFC and special needs designations and is excited about serving TFS clients how he knows best—like family.
TFS Can’t Wait To Meet You
Our team thrives on helping families make smart values-driven decisions with their money every day. If you’re interested in learning more about what that could look like for your life, set up a call with us today.
Stay tuned for part two where we’ll talk with our founder and CEO Dale Terwedo.