Already a subscriber? Log in
- Unparalleled business coverage of the Iowa City / Cedar Rapids corridor.
- Immediate access to subscriber-only content on our website.
- 26 issues per year delivered digitally, in print or both.
- Support locally owned and operated journalism.
When imagining a remarkably cool place to work, a financial advising firm might not be the first type of business that comes to mind. But to Larry Witzel, it’s not much of a stretch. And while he said he’s thrilled that the company he founded, Strategic Financial Solutions, has been named the Corridor Business Journal’s Coolest Place to Work among small businesses for 2022, as well as winning the overall “Coolest of the Cool” award for all business categories, he’s not overly surprised. The credit for achievements like this, he says, goes directly to the SFS team. “It comes back to having really talented people that we get to spend everyday with,” Mr. Witzel said. “We think the financial services industry is a really cool place to be, and we get very excited about the mission that we're serving, helping people retire confidently, securely and on time, and giving them a good roadmap to get there. I was able to turn a hobby into a career.” Strategic Financial Solutions primarily provides corporate retirement planning and individual wealth management financial planning services. The firm works with nearly 90 local employers and an estimated 12,000 retirement plan participants overall, charting a path to financial security and stability. SFS formally began operations in 2002, but Mr. Witzel brings more than 30 years of experience in the financial services industry. His father introduced him to a financial advisor in his teens, and he said he “almost” entered the financial services sector directly after graduating from Iowa State University with a major in agricultural business and a minor in business administration. “Someone pulled me aside and said, ‘maybe you need a little more gray above your temples,’” Mr. Witzel recalled. “‘Go get some experience somewhere else, and then when you're having a midlife crisis in your 40s, you can get into this business.’” So, he launched his career as a marketing representative with the Dow Chemical Company before an organizational “transition” led him to answer an ad in the Cedar Rapids Gazette seeking financial planners. “I wanted to go through the exercise and not have buyer’s remorse when I took a job somewhere else,” he said. “I met an individual who was in the business for a number of years, but he got started when he was 21, and he convinced me that 25 was not too young to get started.” He then joined Principal Financial Group, and after a company reorganization, he was named as one of the company’s 33 business consultants nationwide at the time. In his own words, this is how his career path evolved from there. “I became positioned as a resource for other advisors as they were working with ownership of closely held businesses,” he said. “We were working with those businesses (on) corporate retirement plans, succession plans, exit strategies and executive compensations. Those are not one-time events; they’re development of long-term relationships and delivery of services. It became very important to have an independent entity that we could hire staff back to, so we had enough hands on deck to support all the promises we were making. We also wanted to bring an independent face to the marketplace.”