The world of retirement planning faces major changes in April when the Department of Labor’s new fiduciary rules will take effect. 

The new rules, which have been challenged in court and in Congress, require investment advisors to act in a client’s best interest rather than under the current less stringent “suitability standard” when marketing products to clients.

But the new regulations are nothing new for Drew K. Horter, founder and chief investment strategist with Horter Investment Management LLC, in Symmes Township.

Horter’s approach, honed through several market downturns during his years in the investment business, is focused on offering clients less volatile choices.

“We don’t like risk. We don’t like going backwards [in asset value],” he says. “ So, we’ll never make you rich but our tactical portfolios allow us to take you to cash or to make money if interest rates go up,” he says.

Over the last several years, Horter’s firm has experienced explosive growth by offering his low-risk, low volatility investment approach through an expanding national network of affiliated advisors.

Horter now has 360 investment advisors working as independent contractors with his firm and the firm’s assets under management has grown from $90 million in 2010 to just shy of $1.1 billion today.

Horter, who has been in the investment business for 34 years, has been using a more conservative approach since the late 1980s. The turning point was Black Monday in October 1987 when stock markets around the world crashed.

“We had clients losing 22 percent of their investments and we were selling 8.5 percent load mutual funds, so all of a sudden we had clients down 30 percent,” he says. “We said, ‘We’re not going to do this anymore.’”

Horter, who graduated from the University of Cincinnati with a degree in political science and business, obtained certification as a Chartered Financial Planner and began offering fee-based services to his clients.

“It was a tough change to go to fees over time versus getting a big commission up front,” he says, “But it was the right thing to do.”

Horter launched his own registered investment advisory in 1991 and over the last nine years has focused on seeking equity market returns while attempting to avoid the volatility of the stock and bond markets.

Offering his approach to other investment advisors has fueled Horter’s national growth.

“We see more opportunity for us to grow as brokers don’t know what to do with their practice or how to transition to a fiduciary standard,” he says.

Recently, the firm expanded into a larger, $5 million building on Montgomery Road in Sycamore Township, which will serve as the firm’s national headquarters. It’s a short distance from the Symmes Township office, which now focuses on the firm’s Cincinnati clients. 

A key feature of the new 25,000-square-foot building is a 40-seat multi-purpose room for training Horter’s advisors and to launch what he calls Horter University to teach high school and college students about asset investing.

“We want to give them enough knowledge so they can say, ‘I’ve learned this about investing and this is my preference,’” he says.