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 service, 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). When not working, he enjoys spending time with his family down the shore, in Sea Isle City, NJ. His hobbies include golf, Penn State football, and just hanging out at the beach. He was selected as a Five Star Wealth Manager* by Philadelphia Magazine in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020. Fred writes a column titled "Financially Speaking" for the Seven Mile Times and the Sea Isle Times

Chairmans_seal
 

Frederick J. Dunbar is proud to have been recognized as a Chairmans Level advisor for 2021—a distinction based on annual production attained by just percent of advisors affiliated with Commonwealth Financial Network. 

Each year, Commonwealth, the broker/dealer–RIA that helps us process investment transactions on your behalf, recognizes Chairmans Level advisors by inviting them to an exclusive gathering of their peers, leading industry experts, and Commonwealth home office staff. Chairmans 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.  4,148 Philadelphia area wealth managers were considered for the award; 366 (9% of candidates) were named 2020 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

 

                                                                                                                                                                       

Having grown 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. Afterward, 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 with whom I love to spend time. 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™ certification and Chartered Financial Consultant® designation. 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 hold 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.

             

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 were invaluable during these years. I earned the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNERTM professional certification, enabling me to work with individuals across all aspects of financial planning. The next step was to dive deeper into investments through the Certified Investment Management Analyst® designation. With this knowledge, I was able to focus on building optimal portfolios for investors' specific risk tolerance. Between designations, I earned my MBA from Penn State University. After my 7-year education at Vanguard, I had lost touch with 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, Kim; daughter Emma; and our rescue dog Spanky. We are expecting our second child this fall. On the weekends we like hiking 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 ACAC in West Chester. I am a board member of 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.

Matt was selected as a Five StarSM Wealth Manager* by Philadelphia Magazine in 2020.

*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.  4,148 Philadelphia area wealth managers were considered for the award; 366 (9% of candidates) were named 2020 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..

Victoria Provost

Registered Service Representative

I can’t believe how fast time has flown by since I started working at Common Cents in July 2017. After graduating from the University of Richmond with a degree in both music and French, I began my career here as an assistant. Since then, I’ve passed my FINRA Series 7 and 66 licensing exams and look forward to the challenges that studying and preparing for additional certifications and exams will bring.

In my free time, I love exploring restaurants in the area (I’m always taking new recommendations!), traveling to new places, and singing with my six-person a cappella group based in Philadelphia. We call ourselves PHLx (pronounced “flex”), and we enjoy performing for live audiences as well as recording studio projects. I’ve got to put that music degree to use somehow!

I’m happy to be a part of a great team at Common Cents Planning, here to help meet the needs of our clients and assist in fulfilling their financial objectives. Nothing is more satisfying than achieving your goals!

Kevin Lake Jr.

Registered Representative

“Those who are happiest are those who do the most for others.”

– Booker T. Washington

I grew up locally as part of a large extended family that focused on the importance of spending time with each other, having fun, and most of all helping those who need it. The first two usually went hand in hand, and yet the third is where a lot of my fondest memories come from. Since I can remember, my family would have and attend charity fundraisers, races to support different causes, and often times get together for that purpose.  Growing up with a focus on helping out the community has molded me into the person I am today.

In 2008, I graduated from Penn State with a degree in accounting. After a few years, I realized it wasn’t what I wanted to do. I soon found myself drawn to financial services, and in 2013, I joined Lincoln Financial helping educate advisors on the importance of long-term care. By 2016, I finally found my true calling, helping people.  I joined New York Life, where I was able to find people who needed help navigating to achieve their financial goals. Over the next 4 years, I gained a wealth of knowledge and experience while helping my clients secure the proper protection for themselves and their families, as well as helping them get set up for financial success. I bring a unique perspective to Common Cents Planning with a focus on building a foundation of protection for our clients whether it be someone with a young family who is just getting started, or planning to protect them from a long-term care event. I am currently pairing that perspective with knowledge I’m gaining while helping our clients each and every day, as well as working through the CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER professional certification that I plan on completing in 2022.

On a personal note, I’m a resident of Newtown Square, where I live with my wife, Kelly; our two sons, James and Liam; and our daughter Alice. My free time these days is spent chasing around and entertaining my children, vacations down in Sea Isle, as well spending time with my in-laws on their lake in upstate New York.  I’ve also continued following my upbringing of helping others, outside of my regular day-to-day with clients.  I’m a current member of the Rotary Club of Bryn Mawr as well as vice president of the Friendly Sons of St. Patrick, an organization that focuses on raising money to contribute to worthy charitable and religious organizations and causes.

I look forward to helping you in the future!

Michele Troutman

Office Manager

 

I joined Common Cents Planning in November 2009.  It is hard to believe I’ve been here for over 11 years.

I have been married since November 1991 and have lived within the same five-mile radius my whole life (except for when I attended Shippensburg University).  I have two children. Since being at CCP, my son enlisted and fulfilled his five-year commitment to the U.S. Marine Corps. He currently lives in South Carolina and is attending online classes at Penn State World Campus. My daughter was 10 years old when I started.  She recently graduated from Penn State University with a business degree.

Five 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 hockey teams. Six of the seven boys who stayed with our family currently attend four-year universities and are playing hockey. We love to travel and watch them play.

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.