Our Team

Our Team

Our Philosophy

Building long-term relationships is our priority at Common Cents Planning. We start the journey by taking the time to understand each of our clients personally. Together, we carefully chart a course to pursue financial success, using prudent wealth management strategies. Since 1985, our clients have looked to us for financial direction. We are dedicated to guiding and sustaining that mission.

Common Cents Planning is an independent financial services, wealth management, and consulting firm. As independent financial professionals, we have the freedom to provide diverse guidance and insight to our clients. We recognize that each person’s situation is different, so we develop a financial plan that focuses on helping you accomplish your personal goals. We pursue an in-depth understanding of your financial situation and your values as they relate to your financial plan. This approach allows us to forge a strong partnership with you and to assist you as we strive to turn your dreams into reality.

Frederick J. Dunbar, CLU®, ChFC®, RFC®, AIF®

Chief Executive Officer

Frederick J. Dunbar is chief executive officer of Common Cents Planning, Inc., and Planning Directions, Inc., a Registered Investment Adviser. A graduate of Penn State University, he has been in the financial services industry since 1980 and holds numerous licenses and registrations. 

Fred is also a registered representative of Commonwealth Financial Network®, member FINRA/SIPC. In addition, he is a Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®), a Chartered Financial Consultant® (ChFC®), a Registered Financial Consultant (RFC), and an Accredited Investment Fiduciary® (AIF®). He is a member of the International Association of Registered Financial Consultants and was selected as an honored member of "Who's Who in Leading American Executives."

Fred is a past member of the Penn State Brandywine Advisory Board. In addition, he has taught Financial Planning for the Small Business Owner at Penn State Brandywine, Penn State Abington, and Delaware County Community College. This four-week course was offered through the Small Business Administration (SBA). Fred also speaks at seminars and community functions, and his commonsense approach to targeting financial goals is refreshing. He was selected as a Five StarSM Wealth Manager* by Philadelphia Magazine in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, & 2019. Fred writes a column titled "Financially Speaking" for the Seven Mile Times and the Sea Isle Times


Frederick J. Dunbar is proud to have been recognized as a Chairman's Level advisor for 2019—a distinction based on annual production attained by just 3 percent of advisors affiliated with Commonwealth Financial Network.

Each year, Commonwealth, the Registered Investment Adviser–broker/dealer that helps us process investment transactions on your behalf, recognizes Chairman's Level advisors by inviting them to an exclusive gathering of their peers, leading industry experts, and Commonwealth home office staff. Chairman's Level advisors benefit from an intensive learning and networking experience designed to help them hone their expertise, share best practices, and provide ever-higher levels of service, education, and leadership to their clients.

*Based on 10 objective eligibility and evaluation criteria, including a minimum of 5 years as an active credentialed financial professional, favorable regulatory and complaint history, accepts new clients, client retention rates, client assets administered, education, and professional designations.  3,910 Philadelphia area wealth managers were considered for the award; 437 (11% of candidates) were named 2019 Five Star Wealth Managers. (The criteria provided reflects the most recent year for which advisor received the award. The criteria used, the number of wealth managers considered for the award, and the percentage of those who receive the award, may vary from year to year). These awards are not indicative of the wealth managers' future performance. Your experiences may vary. For more information, please visit www.fivestarprofessional.com.

William F. Muller, CFP®, ChFC®, AIF®, CDFA®

Financial Planner

Growing up as one of seven children in Philadelphia I often find that some of my favorite memories have a common thread: family and friends. As a kid I remember standing on the sidewalk watching my Dad march with the Knights of Columbus down Manayunk Avenue in the annual 4th of July parade. Afterwards we would go to the Saint Mary’s picnic for soda, food, and games. Summer also meant family day trips to Atlantic City (before the casinos) and Phillies games at the Vet. I would always bring my glove just in case a foul ball came my way (it never did). At Christmas we all piled around the tree opening presents and then got dressed to go to Mass at Immaculate Heart of Mary or “IHM” as we called it.

                                                                                                   These days much of my time is spent with my own family. I have two young children who I love to spend time with. My teenage daughter is an archer. Many weekends during the fall and winter will have me driving to archery tournaments in Pennsylvania cities like Walnutsport, Harrisburg and Lancaster. I enjoy spending time with her and watching her compete.

My son is passionate about dancing and currently takes classes in jazz and hip hop. His goal is to do competitive ballet. Watching him perform on stage with such poise leaves me proud and amazed. Some weekends he and I will make our way to the driving range to practice our golf swing. Watching my children grow and develop interests of their own is something I truly enjoy.

On family vacations we enjoy making unhealthy food choices and riding amusement rides on the boardwalk in Ocean City New Jersey.


                                                                                                                                                                                                                               My journey into finance began in college. Going through business classes at LaSalle University left me wondering if business was truly my future. I was bored with Accounting, uninspired by Business Management, and mildly interested in Marketing. Finally, sitting through Finance 101, a light went on! I found learning about stocks, bonds, and money markets exciting, and interesting. After graduation, I went to work for Vanguard and continued to learn more about investing, retirement planning, and insurance. While working at Vanguard I also furthered my education earning the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ and Chartered Financial Consultant® designations. While working and starting a family, I enrolled at Saint Joseph’s University and received a Master’s Degree in Financial Services. Recently I have focused my practice on helping individuals develop financial plans after a divorce and am currently pursuing the Certified Divorce Financial Analyst® (CDFA®) designation. I enjoy the challenge of helping people put the pieces to their financial puzzle together and I feel lucky to have the opportunity to help people in a substantial way with the work that I do.

                                                                                              When I am not in the office I enjoy being outdoors. Whether it is biking on one of the many local trails, golfing at a local course, or sitting on the beach at the Jersey Shore, I try to get outside as much as possible. I am a lifelong Philly sports fan so I follow all the local professional and college sports teams closely. Now that the Eagles have finally won a Super Bowl I have lived to see all the Philly pro sports teams win a championship! Life is definitely good.  


Matthew S. Ellis, CFP®, CIMA®, AIF®

Financial Planner

Let’s climb Mt. Everest together! Funding college plans, securing a retirement, or even planning a vacation can feel like climbing a mountain. You’d bring a guide along to Mt. Everest and I can guide you up and down financial mountains. As an undergrad at Rollins College I worked full time financing swimming pools. This gave me my first glimpse into personal finance and I became hooked on helping people organize and build strong personal finances.

September of 2008 was a wild time to do anything in finance, so naturally I started my next job at the Vanguard group. The education and experience I gained was invaluable during these years. I earned the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional designation enabling me to work with individuals across all aspects of financial planning. The next steps was to dive deeper into investments through the Certified Investment Management Analyst® designation. With this knowledge I was able to focus on building optimal portfolio for investors specific risk tolerance. After my 7 year education at Vanguard, I had lost touch of working directly with individuals.

To get back to my passion for helping people, I joined Common Cents Planning as a Financial Advisor. Today I get to sit down with people every day and listen to their goals and ideas. Together we collaborate to turn today’s goals into tomorrow’s realities. My favorite moment at Common Cents Planning was sitting in on a review where we showed a client how his assets would last through retirement and he could stop working. I want to share this message with as many people as possible.

When I am not thinking about financial planning I keep plenty busy. I live in West Chester with my wife, daughter and our rescue dog Spanky. On the weekends we like hiking with Spanky at Marsh Creek and Stroud Preserve or cycling on the new Rails to Trails in the area. We try to run at least one road race a year together and are active at the West Chester YMCA. I am the founder and chairman of the Glen Mills After Hours Rotary Club, active in the Greater West Chester Chamber of Commerce and was recently nominated to a four-year term on the Chester County Estate Planning Council. Keeping my ear to the ground helps me connect my clients to community events and create business synergies. Plus, there is a bit of fun in it all.

I look forward to climbing mountains together.



Laureen Smith, CLTC®

Insurance Marketing Consultant/Long Term Care Specialist

It’s hard to believe I have been with Common Cents Planning since 2004.  I have truly enjoyed all my time here and although I have had many different roles over the years, office manager, trader (which I still do), rollover specialist, billing coordinator etc. I have found my passion on the insurance side.  I really do love helping people figure out the insurance conundrum.  Whether it is life insurance, disability or Long-Term Care I am your go to person.

Over the past 14 years my husband Geoff and I have not only raised three awesome children (which we have lived to tell about), but we have also become responsible for 4 elderly family members, three of whom have some degree of Alzheimer’s/dementia and one who is physically impaired. I have seen and experienced first-hand what Extended Care looks and feels like. I have experienced what it does to families who have planned for these life-changing events and can ease into those years and I have experienced what it is like when families fail to plan for those difficult times. It is such a life altering event for all those involved that I decided to take the next step and get the Certified Long-Term Care designation, the CLTC®.

Let me help you figure out a game plan that is right for you because your family are the last people you want to saddle with that challenge.

On the personal side, my husband and I moved to the borough of West Chester after our kids went off to college and we love being able to walk into town.  When I am not working or caring for a family member I am running at 5:30 am with my running gals or going to the YMCA. I love riding my bike with my husband or volunteering at my church where I Co-Chair the Outreach Committee.  One of my favorite places to be is serving meals in Philadelphia at Broad Street Ministry, a radical hospitality collaborative for those with food insecurity.

Our family loves Philly Sports, especially our Super Bowl Champion Philadelphia Eagles and we have “Trusted the Process” thus far with our 76ers. We love to travel and spend our summer weekends boating in Ocean City, New Jersey.

Michele Troutman

Office Manager

I joined Common Cents Planning in November 2009.  It is hard to believe I’ve been here for over 10 years.

On a familial note, I have been married since November 1991 and have lived within the same 5 mile radius my whole life (except for when I attended Shippensburg University).  Since being at CCP, I have seen my son graduate from high school and join the Marines.  He has fulfilled his 5 year commitment and is currently living in South Carolina.  My daughter was 10 years old when I started.  She has since graduated high school and attends Penn State Brandywine Campus.

Four years ago, my family became “Billets” for our local hockey team and have hosted players from across the USA and Canada during the hockey season.  The teams are gateways into college teams for 16 to 20 year olds.  Five of the six boys that have stayed with our family will be attending four year universities and playing hockey.

I love to enter contests (mostly over the radio).  My family has attended many free concerts but my biggest win to date was the deck on my house.  It was radio sponsored and they chose 20 people to attend the Home Show in Philadelphia.  The “last name called” won the grand prize.  Never have I been so happy to be called last!  My family, especially our rescue dog Emma, enjoys spending time on our free deck.

Always remember, “It’s not whether you win or lose, its how you play the game”; but boy did it feel good when the Philadelphia Eagles won the Super Bowl!

Victoria Provost

Administrative Assistant

I can’t believe how fast time has flown since I started working at Common Cents in July of 2017. When people ask what I do for a living, they’re a bit surprised, considering what I studied at school. I graduated in May 2017 from University of Richmond, a small liberal arts college in Virginia, and completed a double major in French and Music. I tell people that music and math have many similarities, both use the same side of the brain, and as a musician, I have a natural inclination towards math; ergo I maintain an interest in finance. In fall 2018, I intend to begin studying for licensing exams, so stay tuned…

In friend groups, everyone has a qualifier; mine is “the singer.” Music has always been a very important part of my life. I grew up singing at church and at school and haven’t stopped. Since getting my degree at Richmond in music, I’ve been doing less classical singing and have been focusing more on pop music after forming a new a cappella group in May 2018 called PHLx (pronounced “flex”). We’re a six-man vocal band with a modern and deft sound established in Philadelphia, and we enjoy performing live for audiences as well as recording in the studio. Everyone in the group takes our hobby very seriously and can’t wait for what is to come!

Since a young age, I’ve had an affinity for foreign languages, specifically those most typical in classical singing. In college I took courses in Italian, German, and French but always favored French throughout grade school and university with the hopes of one day traveling to France and putting my language skills to the test. Those hopes came to fruition when I studied in France during the summer of 2014. I was given the opportunity to travel to Paris and then stay for a month in La Rochelle, France, which is a vacation town on the west coast of the country. Throughout my college career, I was also fortunate enough to travel to the Czech Republic, Austria, and the Baltics. Where should I go next??

I love being a part of the team at Common Cents Planning. If you have any questions or concerns or if you just want to talk about your latest or upcoming trip abroad, I’m happy to be of assistance!

Erin E. O'Neill

Administrative Assistant

I started with Common Cents Planning in October 2017, after over 9 years of working in Special Education. I adored my time in Education and I’m excited about my new path in Finance. I love working with people and offering my assistance whenever it’s needed.

Growing up I was heavily involved in Upper Darby Summer Stage. Whether it was directing, singing, acting, helping with sets, making costumes or even selling tickets in the box office, I loved every moment I spent there. I made incredible friendships that I hold very near and dear to my heart.

Something that’s very important to me is animal rescue; I’m very involved whether it be in my own backyard or in another country. My husband and I have two dog rescues, Lucy a Shiba Inu mix and Bailey a Chi/Pug/Terrier mix. When I’m not busy with four legged friends, I love to bake! During the holidays I make cookie trays to give out to local police and fire departments as a small gesture of thanks for all they do in the community.

My husband and I are huge Phillie Phanatics and had a Phillies Baseball themed wedding. It was so much fun taking everyone to the “ballpark”! Currently I’m heavily invested in the Aston Lioness Club. I’m extremely happy to be able to give back to my community, and it’s afforded me the ability to meet so many wonderful people through the club and its great activities.