Business Monday

Henderson Group advises smaller investors

CEO Robert Henderson, Jr. at The Henderson Financial Group in Miami Lakes.
CEO Robert Henderson, Jr. at The Henderson Financial Group in Miami Lakes. ctrainor@miamiherald.com

The company and its services: The Henderson Group, based in Miami Lakes, provides a full range of financial and investment services to individuals and small and mid-sized businesses. Henderson manages about 400 accounts, of which approximately 80 percent are for individuals. Most accounts are based in Florida, but Henderson has clients in other states and overseas.

“We are independent, so we don’t offer products from just one financial services company like some people do,” said Robert Henderson Jr., who is the founder and the CEO of the company. “I work for the client.”

Henderson, a certified financial planner who set up the small, privately owned financial services firm 26 years ago, said his role is to “translate finance for people so they can understand their options.” He communicates with people in all walks of life: “I’ll use metaphors, like comparing investment alternatives to a basket of fruit. I want people to know they have alternatives to earning 1 percent on a savings account.”

Henderson also has a live radio show on Saturdays — “Understanding Money” — that’s aimed at entrepreneurs and small business owners. (It’s on 1080AM, from 8-9 a.m.) In April, National Financial Literacy Month, Miami Gardens partnered with Henderson to produce a monthlong financial literacy series called “Money Matters Miami Gardens.”

Getting started: Curiosity has always propelled Henderson in his professional life. After high school, he studied architecture for two years at Miami-Dade Junior College and worked as a graphic designer at WFOR-TV (CBS4). When Donald Trump came to the station for an interview, he became interested in real estate and earned a broker’s license.

Subsequently, he took a course in tax planning to learn how to reduce his own taxes, became intrigued by investing and finance and went on to qualify as a certified financial planner in the mid-1980s. Henderson worked as a certified financial planner at a Miami financial firm where clients were required to have a net worth of $2 million or more.

“I figured there were a lot of people who didn’t have a net worth of $2 million but who needed financial advice,” Henderson said. “This was a niche market.” So he opened his own firm.

The difference: The personal touch, Henderson said. “My team and I spend as much time with people as they need,” he said. “I’m always available. All my clients have my cell number.” The company also offers services like real estate brokerage, tax consulting and insurance planning, which other companies do not, he said.

Performance: The firm’s total assets — funds managed for clients — have increased steadily over the past five years, Henderson said. Currently, assets under management stand at just over $500 million. The firm works with Raymond James, which handles its accounts, and IFS Securities in Atlanta.

Competitors: The firm competes for clients with commercial banks that offer investment advice, large financial companies like Fidelity and Vanguard, as well as smaller financial consulting companies.

What customers say: John Vargas, who lives in North Miami and is a manager for Apple’s education business in Latin America, has been working with Henderson for about a year. “My accountant warned me that my tax bills were too high and recommended Henderson,” Vargas said. “He talked to me first about different tax strategies and lowered my tax bill. He didn’t charge me for his time.”

Vargas also asked about investments, insurance and real estate purchases and said he obtained excellent advice. “He offered some very advanced strategies that no one else had discussed with me, and he explains things so clearly,” Vargas said.

“I used to work with big companies like AIG and Fidelity, which charge fixed fees. He [Henderson] receives fees from companies where he places investments and a commission from the life insurance company I used. I moved all my business to him, and I’m very happy with what we’re doing.”

Jerome Byrd, who lives in West Palm Beach, has invested with Henderson for about 2 1/2 years.

“They provide me with financial planning services, asset protection and tax structure,” said Byrd, who retired as a Miami-Dade Fire Department captain and now owns franchises for Zaxby’s quick food restaurants.

Byrd had worked with other financial service companies. “But I didn’t get the personal relationship I get with Robert [Henderson]. He takes the time to explain things to a layman like me and breaks it all down,” he said.

An external view: Henderson offers free financial advice on the firm’s radio programs, and through other educational efforts, such as the partnership with Miami Gardens in April.

“I am constantly thinking of avenues to educate, equip and empower our residents,” Mayor Oliver Gilbert of Miami Gardens said in an email. “Through our partnership, we educated more than a hundred residents and set them on a path of getting more financially fit,” he said. “This is what puts them above their competitors.”

Challenges: Explaining complex financial and investment concepts to clients who aren’t experts, so they can make sound decisions. “I had to learn everything on my own, and I like to share,” Henderson said.

Outlook: Henderson expects assets to increase by more than 20 percent this year.

The writer can be reached at josephmannjr@gmail.com.

The Henderson Financial Group

Business: The Henderson Financial Group is a small, independent firm offering individual and business clients a full range of financial planning services. Stressing personal attention to each client, the minority-owned company’s services include investment advice, portfolio management, retirement planning, tax reduction and tax coaching, as well as real estate acquisitions, insurance planning and asset protection.

Headquarters: 5793A NW 151st St., Miami Lakes.

Founded: 1990 by Robert Henderson Jr.

Leadership: Robert Henderson Jr., certified financial planner and CEO; Hyacinth Henderson, managing director; and Lynda Harris, vice president.

Employees: Seven.

Owner: Robert Henderson Jr.

Assets: Currently, assets under management stand at just over $500 million. The firm works with Raymond James, which handles its accounts, and IFS Securities in Atlanta.

Website: www.thehendersonfinancialgroup.com

Source: The Henderson Financial Group.

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