Stephen A. Heitz ’03, BA in Economics with minors in Math & Business Administration
Director of Family Wealth & Fiduciary Consulting, Sortino Advisory Partners LLC
Stephen Heitz concentrates his practice primarily in the areas of retirement planning, business succession planning, charitable giving, estate planning and consulting with corporate retirement plans on plan design and fiduciary best practices at Sortino Advisory Partners (SAP), a Louisville-based, independent registered investment advisory firm “incubated clandestinely in the Bellarmine University Library in 2014.” The firm’s founders are former Wall Street executives whose central philosophy is that your greatest risk as an investor is the risk of not meeting your personal financial goals.
How did your Bellarmine education help prepare you for what you are doing today?
Aside from the ability to achieve technical expertise in areas related to my profession, my liberal arts education from Bellarmine helped me develop and apply a broad set of interests. I remember telling my mom I was pursuing additional courses in Theology, and she wanted to know what I was going to do with that information. I replied, “Put it in my pocket and apply it to my life.” Eighteen years later, I use that understanding to help me relate to other people, their values, their struggles, their ethos. This translates into being able to connect authentically with a wide variety of people. As they open up about achieving their life’s goals, you enter one of the most delicate places in the human psyche: intent, purpose, values. Our process is an intimate one that requires deep trust and a mutual understanding of what’s truly at stake for each client.
What advice do you have for alumni or students interested in pursuing your profession?
The best piece of advice I can give any student is to get a degree in Economics or Finance followed up with some minors in the arts like Psychology, English, History or Theology, because they develop your emotional intelligence. Find jobs or internships in research or analytical work for established industry professionals. This often gets your foot in the door where you can test the waters in relationship development with little risk. When it comes to relationship building, it takes a lot of networking time to develop your reputation and establish yourself. Your best clients will come from the most unexpected places. Listen intently and always ask questions about their goals and what stressors and obstacles are in the way of achieving those goals.
What career accomplishments are you most proud of?
I entered this industry because I wanted to help people. I was unaware at that time I could touch thousands of lives through our corporate retirement plan clients and family wealth clients. Every day I go to work and give advice that makes a meaningful impact in someone’s life. That is success for me. We measure success daily, one client at a time. It could be giving clients comfort in a time of need, helping them discover that they can retire sooner, sending grandkids to college, selling their business or transferring wealth through estate planning to the people and organizations they care about. Helping clients use their economic resources in meaningful ways is what makes me feel successful. I am proud that I have stayed true to my heart for service over the years and that my vision to help people every day hasn’t wavered.