Ron Finke hasn’t been afraid to take a different path if it seemed to lead to a better place. That approach, coupled with persistence and a measure of faith, has paid off.

He started Stewardship Capital in Independence nearly 20 years ago, seeing growth even through the Great Recession nearly a decade ago. He and the company have given back to the community, and for that Finke is being recognized this year by the Truman Heartland Community Foundation as its Paul M. Thomson Professional Advisor of the Year.

“He obviously gets and understands charitable giving, and lives it every day,” said Phil Hanson, the foundation’s president and CEO. Finke is among several local leaders to be honored at the foundation’s gala in October.

The award to Finke, a past foundation board member, is largely for helping clients set up planned and charitable giving as part of their overall financial planning.

“To me, it’s a confirmation that we’re on the right track,” Finke said.

This wasn’t his original plan. He earned a law degree and then discovered that he just didn’t care for practicing law. He made a transition into financial services, selling mutual funds and insurance policies on commission. That was successful for years but came with constraints.

“ ... it’s almost like a do-no-harm standard” in dealing with clients, he said.

He wanted something else.

He meets with a strategic coaching group every 90 days, and that got him to conclude that he needed to go in a different direction.

“So I virtually started over” in 1997, he said.

He added, “It’s like starting over after 15, 16 good years.”

That was the beginning of Stewardship Capital, and he enjoys the challenge of working not just with clients with a good deal of money but also those with less.

“And I just have a hard time turning people away,” he said.

But having Stewardship changed the parameters for dealing with clients. The job is to do what’s best for the client regardless of Stewardship’s interest. It makes its money by making the financial pie grow. One goal, Finke said, is that clients do well enough that they are able to be more generous.

Finke acknowledged that choosing the name Stewardship was a religious reference. He puts it this way: While not being evangelistic about it, he and other advisers tell clients they think God gives everyone resources and they are expected to manage them – and those at Stewardship Capital are stewards as well.

“So the better job we do, the more responsibility we get,” he added.

Finke says he reads history closely, adding, “But despite all evidence to the contrary, I remain an optimist.”

Paying close attention makes a difference. Although the full downward spiral of the Great Recession didn’t hit until the fall of 2008, Finke noted that the market peaked in September and October of 2007 and Stewardship was selling by December.

The company came through it OK.

“While everybody else was downsizing, we started going the other way,” he said. Today the company has five and a half employees.

His approach is not to go along with the crowd, but he says it works.

“You don’t have to swing for the fence in good times,” he said.

In addition to its support for Truman Heartland, Stewardship supports the Rotary, Habitat for Humanity, Hillcrest Transitional Housing, Children’s Mercy Hospital, Global Scholars, the Community Services League and the Shriners. He’s also a former a Independence Board of Education member, and he’s active at Noland Road Baptist Church.

(Finke also has contributed a weekly Examiner column of financial and other observations for several years.)

Finke is 64 and says he has no plans to retire.

“I love what I’m doing,” he said.

And he remains active in the community.

“Because the one thing I know,” he said, “is the people who give are the happiest and most joyous.”