BA Adviser Adds Commercial Lending to Service Clients

David B. Cottrell believes in having a close relationship with his financial planning services clients.
So when he found that several of his clients were having difficulties obtaining the business loans they needed, he stepped in to offer an option.
Cottrell’s firm, Broken Arrow-based Aspen Financial Planning Services, Inc., 2017 S. Elm Place, Ste. 104, recently began offering commercial loans through an Illinois broker-dealer, Business Capital Solutions.
“The need drove the business,” said Cottrell, who co-owns Aspen Financial Planning Services with his father, Kerry Cottrell, CPA.
The commercial lending business will operate under the name Aspen Capital Solutions.
“It wasn’t planned,” Cottrell said. “We just do a lot of advising with business owners and clients who are starting businesses, and a lot of them were having problems getting what they needed. They would spend days going to different banks and couldn’t get the rates, or the criteria were too difficult for them.”
Based out of a 1,200 SF office with about $40 million under management, Cottrell said he has added a part-time service representative to help with the commercial lending service.
“We will continue to do the advising that we were doing – consulting, trying to figure out what clients need – because there are a lot of different products for them,” he said. And with the commercial lending service, “we can advise them and get them shopped on the open market and find a company that will match up with them.”
He said his commercial lending resources will allow Aspen Capital to offer lower rates and larger loans than may be available from local banks.
“I have clients in 14 different states for our investment business. Some of them are executives with publicly traded companies and some are looking at using our services,” Cottrell said. “We can loan up to a $1 billion. Your local banks typically don’t have those kinds of resources.”
“That’s what’s neat,” he said. “We are a small company here but we have contact with the large institutions, so in a sense, we can almost do more for a client than a bank can.”
He said he was working with several clients before he even had a name for the company, including a growing business in Pryor.
“We will look at all the loans they have and see if we can consolidate and do something better. Obviously, if we can lower their payments, the interest rate is going to help them out that much more,” he said. “They have been acquiring businesses, and we are going to look at equipment leasing.”
Cottrell, who started Aspen Financial in 1999 while he was a senior at Oklahoma State University and joined forces with his father 4.5 years ago, said he has grown his business primarily through referrals.
“Our clients are people we have relationships with or people they know. It’s almost a family tree,” he said. “Almost everybody is connected one way or another because of referral.”
“Our hope was to focus more on local. We have always wanted to,” he said. “In the investment business we have had to go where the referrals were and where the money was. It seemed to be more difficult to build up our backyard, so to speak, than it was in California. Word spread very quickly about us in California.”
Cottrell, who has his Series 65 registration, said a lot of the growth of the company occurred while he was trading stocks.
“At one time I managed about 30 stock accounts, managing about 10 percent or so of our clients’ money, about $4.5 million,” he said. “A few years back when the market was just flat or down, I was making some good returns and started getting known as a stock guru, especially out in California.”
Cottrell said he phased out most of his stockbroker services when he realized they were “changing the direction of our business.”
“I stopped doing that because I wanted clients to realize, ‘No, we are not a double-down-on-black type of company,’” he said. ?

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