Fee-based registered investment advisor Dave Demming can’t control what his clients earn in the markets, but he makes it his personal mission to manage what they pay for mortgages, credit cards and student loans—right down to building a pool of competitive lenders who actively bid for client debt.

As a result, Demming, who founded Demming Financial Services Corp. in Aurora, Ohio, more than four decades ago, said his nearly 800 clients get some of the lowest interest rates and best terms around using secured loans.

The upshot is not one of his clients has a 30-year mortgage or a traditional student loan, he said. “We have a promotional deal from one bank that offers a 10-year term at 2.875% for secured loans above $100,000. I can get 3.625% for 15- to 20-year loans,” Demming said.

“As a natural event, we control all financing. I have banks that legitimately discount because 'Dave’s clients are special' in about 50 states,” said the advisor, who accepts no remuneration for the service.

Demming has used his credit shopping and restructuring savvy to help build a full-service financial planning firm of 14 employees, including five CFPs, that has amassed $450 million in assets under management and more than $1 billion in assets under advisement. His clients run the gamut from executives to public employees.

He became a mortgage banker as part of building his advisory firm more than two decades ago because he said he “couldn’t stand to see his otherwise very intelligent clients make ridiculous mistakes.”

Many well-meaning investors are taking on tons of debt “helping their kids and making themselves house poor,” Demming said. 

“A home is the biggest purchase most people will make, but early on we found a lot of clients would make stupid decisions and then come in and say, ‘Why didn’t you talk to us first?’ Even an executive was proud of one of the stupidest mortgages I’ve ever seen. It had a 1% variable rate. She didn’t realize the rate jumped 1% a month until it hit 9%. This isn’t about intelligence, it’s about common sense and experience,” Demming said.

These “teachable moments” led him to get his mortgage license in the 1980s. While he hasn’t brokered a mortgage in years, he has built an extensive network of banking relationships that ensure his clients can obtain some of the lowest-priced credit available.

“What we’re doing is an inherent part of financial planning,” said Demming, who accepts no additional fees for the added service.

“We oversee almost all financial transactions for our clients. The reward is they have limited leverage with low rates and short amortizations and we’ve never had a foreclosure.”

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