Randy Landsman had already been a financial advisor to business executives and the wealthy in the New York City area for years when a lifelong friend, a police officer, asked him for help with his retirement finances. But financial planning for this group was different. Police officers usually retire relatively young, then have second careers. And they are not among the ultra-wealthy.

While helping his friend, Landsman had a "light bulb" moment: Why not build his business by helping police officers like his friend mine the generous benefits New York City offers them?

From that single idea grew a huge business niche, and now the firm he founded, Beacon Financial Group, has about 250 police officers among its clients. Beacon has permission to market to precincts in New York City and to Fraternal Order of Police members throughout the state. And the firm is expanding to New Jersey, Connecticut and beyond.

Landsman started his career in accounting but decided he wanted more of a hands-on, people-oriented role in the financial world. He and advisor Stephen Locker, CFP, met when both were getting their feet wet in the financial industry at American Express, where Landsman ran one of the most successful districts in the United States.

But they wanted more independence, so on the Fourth of July, 1996, they created Beacon, which is headquartered in Warren, N.J., and has offices elsewhere in the state, as well as in New York City and New Smyrna Beach, Fla. Their business now has about 1,500 clients, $300 million in assets under management and 15 employees. The firm takes a combination of fees and commissions and sells no products of its own.

Beacon continues to handle the usual wealthy clients and business executives, preparing financial plans and investing, mostly with the help of third-party money managers. But Beacon's unusual niche in law enforcement started with a childhood friend of Landsman.

Anthony Fanara had played baseball with Landsman as a 7-year-old, and they're still friends now, both at age 46. Like many police officers and other working people, Fanara, a 20-year veteran of the New York City police force, had not paid a lot of attention to his pension plan (or other city benefits) by the time he decided to retire.

"I had worked for 20 years and the city gives you a lot of benefits, but I did not know how well off I was," Fanara says. "I was still in the same investments that the city put me in when I started on the job and it was all hit-or-miss. So I asked Randy to look at what I had and tell me if I was in the best investments to retire. I was also a [Policemen's Benevolent Association] delegate and realized that giving this kind of advice might work on a larger scale."

Like many former officers, Fanara wanted a second career after he retired from the force, and he decided to join Beacon as a licensed consultant to market the firm's services to others in law enforcement. Within the last three or four years, Fanara has been to every command post in New York City and explained the firm's services to police officers at different stages in their careers-to those just starting out, those in middle command and those approaching retirement.

"Some officers are a little standoffish at first, but now they are getting to know who we are and they are more receptive," he says.

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