Our Financial Planning Process



How Pathways Financial Partners Creates Financial Plans

Our Discovery Process

Before we start any journey, we find out where we currently are. In order to know where you should go next, we need to know where you’ve been.

Risk Tolerance

No one wants to take on unnecessary risks. We help you discover what level of risk you are most comfortable with. This becomes your ideal portfolio. We also help you craft an acceptable portfolio. An acceptable portfolio is used in-case your ideal portfolio is too conservative to produce returns that would enable you to meet your financial goals.

Current Assets

To estimate the likelihood of meeting your goals, we need to know how much you currently have and how much you are currently saving. Whether it’s IRAs, 401(k)s, pensions, taxable accounts, real estate, or just a large savings account, we want to see your full financial picture


Your financial life is more than a number on a page. We want to know about your family life and how they will affect your long-term financial goals.

Retirement Goals

Retirement is the largest purchase you will ever make. When you want to retire, what you want to do in retirement, where do you want to be when you retire, and who will retire with you are all of the utmost importance when deciding how to fund and create the optimal retirement lifestyle

Other Financial Goals

We understand that retirement may not be on your mind 24/7. We want to know what other financial goals you may have. We want to help you plan for your travel, new home, charitable gifts, and anything else that you hope your wealth can fund.


What are your priorities? We help you understand how current lifestyle, desired retirement lifestyle, investment risk, saving rate, and occupation play into your financial picture.

Complimentary Investment Analysis

During our discovery process, we want to know how you invest. We have a strong investment philosophy, but we know you do too. We want to learn how we are alike and how we are different. Click on the money icon to the left to start our complimentary investment analysis comparing what you are currently doing to what we would do for you.  


We Track Your Progress


We use state-of-the-art financial planning software. This software allows us to track your progress towards your financial goals. It has a multitude of uses.

Pathways Financial Partners Progress Tracking

Our Investment Philosophy




How We Manage Investment Risk


We begin by understanding your feelings about risk. Whether you are a conservative or an aggressive investor, we can construct a portfolio for you. We define investment risk differently than the rest of Wall Street.


Wall Street uses volatility or standard deviation as a measure of risk. We use how much money you might lose.

Largest 1 Year Drop In Our 25/75 Portfolio

Largest 1 Year Drop In Our 40/60 Portfolio

Largest 1 Year Drop In Our 50/50 Portfolio

Largest 1 Year Drop In Our 60/40 Portfolio

Largest 1 Year Drop In Our 75/25 Portfolio

For data and disclosures, please visit here.

Some risks are avoidable.

Some risks are not avoidable.

We only take risks worth taking.

We don’t attempt to time the market

We don’t pick stocks.

We don’t make bets with your money.

How We Avoid Unnecessary Risks

Diversification enhances returns. It’s possible to reduce your exposure to unnecessary risks like individual company, sector, or country performance. Our portfolios hold more than 10,000 individual stocks and bonds in 45 different countries. This not only helps smooth out your investment experience, but it also increases return.


Two Portfolios With The Same Average Return

Consistent V Volatile Investments


How We Capture Return For You


While limiting risk is important, you should also capture return.

Instead of trying to create value by picking “hot” stocks or attempting to time the market, we provide value by providing you access to the dimensions of excess returns.


Dimensional Fund Advisors

We utilize mutual funds from Dimensional Fund Advisors (DFA). DFA doesn’t fall in the active management category or the index fund category of mutual funds. DFA avoids the expensive activity of stock picking and market timing, but they aren’t dedicated to matching an index.


DFA funds are only available to individual investors through DFA approved investment advisors. Pathways Financial Partners is approved for the purchase of DFA funds, but receives no compensation from DFA or any other investments. Over long periods of time certain types of stocks outperform their competition. Small company stocks outperform large company stocks. This creates a small company premium return. Value stocks outperform growth stocks. This creates a price premium. Stocks from profitable companies outperform stocks from non-profitable companies. This creates a profitability premium. DFA tilts their portfolios in favor of highly profitable, small-value stocks.


However, it doesn’t make any sense to pay $5 to get a $4 return. Implementation and net expenses play big roles in the investors return. DFA practices a flexible and patient trading strategy that allows them to avoid unnecessary trading costs. Dimensional Fund Advisors allow us to provide you best-in-class mutual funds. All of DFA’s mutual funds focus on limiting costs and increasing returns. This allows us to accurately and efficiently focus on your personal goals and financial plan.

Components of Returns

Components of net returns

How We Collaborate With You


We know we aren’t your only professional advisor.

Hopefully, you’ve surrounded yourself with highly trained experts. Your accountant, lawyer, insurance agent, and banker should be involved in your financial plan.

We like to think of ourselves as the quarterback of your financial football team. As the coach of the team, you ultimately have the final say on what happens.

As the quarterback, we help pass along your decisions to the rest of the team. We help you effectively and efficiently communicate your needs and desires to your accountant, lawyer, insurance agent, and banker. We speak the same language as your other professional experts, and we can make sure what you want to happen actually happens.

Let us help you execute your financial plan.


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Brian Murphy
Founder & President

Brian began his career at a large Wall Street firm in the mid 1980’s and founded Pathways Financial Partners in 1998 to be free from the inherent conflicts of interest prevalent in the larger firms.

Brian focuses on clients with at least a million dollars to invest.


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Layton Cox
Financial Advisor

 Layton studied accounting at the University of Arizona while interning for a large insurance company. This sparked his interest in investing and capital markets. He joined the team in August 2012 and began specializing in the unique financial difficulties of professional athletes.

Layton works with professional athletes and clients with at least $250,000 to invest. 

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Christina Boyd
Client Relationship Manager

A winding road that began in Printing Technology at Clemson University then traveled through all aspects of the hospitality industry, owning her own bookkeeping service, retail and wholesale sales ultimately led Christina to PFP in 2007.

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Nik Grosch

Nik studies Finance at the University of Arizona. Nik conducts various Pathways Financial Partners’ research and analysis.

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Blake Davelaar
Research & Planning Associate

Blake studies Finance at the University of Arizona. Blake creates Pathways Financial Partners’ financial plans.