For some, these are just words. For Mark T. Warner, they provide a powerful description of the way he has lived his life both personally and professionally.
Since beginning his business career more than 37 years ago, Mark has demonstrated the remarkable ability to adapt to what is happening in the market today while looking forward to the opportunities it will bring in the future.
While still in college, he began selling insurance for a major carrier and was promoted to branch manager while still in his early 20’s. He was subsequently recruited by Excel InterFinancial Corp., where he pioneered pension plan strategies that focused on real estate investments inside of pension plans—a novel approach at the time—which ultimately became the primary focus of all Houston-based operations for the company and is now widely utilized in the industry today.
In 1983, Mark opened his own financial services practice. Operating on funds he had carefully saved from his earnings, he quickly gained a reputation for both excellent service and results. Within 15 years, he built a book of business with assets under management valued at over $50 million. His greatest achievement, however, is the long-term relationships he has built with his clients, many of whom came to him based on his management of their parents’ financial matters.
Mark’s focus on the long game led him to enter the real estate market in the late 1990’s as an effort to maximize returns, including commercial investments. Knowing how home ownership could be a valuable part of an individual’s portfolio, he then began the arduous process of establishing and building a “one stop” firm at which clients could receive investment advice, help in finding a home and mortgage lending services, FireDream Financial Group, Inc. His idea proved to be a successful one, and the company was able to serve the diverse needs of clients for nearly a decade.
Always Looking—and Moving—Forward
When the housing market crashed in 2008, Mark was committed to keeping the company moving forward by giving those seeking to purchase or refinance a home what they wanted most: transparency. Investing his own money in the project as well as investment capital he secured, he sought out software developers and teamed them with lending professionals and marketers to develop an online technology allowing individuals seeking a mortgage to see and take advantage of wholesale lender pricing. Just as the product completed beta testing and was ready to be marketed, changes in U.S. lending laws and the market rendered it obsolete.
As the U.S. economy continued in a sharp recession, the real estate and mortgage industries were hard hit. Many closed the doors on their business for good. Mark was determined this would not happen to FireDream. Committed and driven to make FireDream a success, Mark immediately began the work of repositioning FireDream in the market place. Between his career and his personal life he had amassed a wealth of experience in the real estate and financial services fields. Under Mark’s careful leadership, FireDream now has a 2 pronged focus: residential and commercial real estate acquisitions, and financial services for both individuals and businesses.
Mark has always felt that when one gains experience and knowledge, he should then share it so others can benefit. As he prepared to send his children to college, Mark realized firsthand how expensive college is. With eight children to send to college, Mark set about learning how to maximize private and public funds to finance a child’s college education. As a result, he developed an expertise in helping others prepare for the enormous expense of putting their children through college. For almost 20 years Mark has assisted families in structuring their finances to bring the greatest benefit – including determining the best way to make sure that they did not overpay for a college education. After a lot of research, Mark partnered with College Planning Network, LLC, the largest college planning company in the US. College Planning Network has helped over 20,000 students get accepted to the universities that were best for them and at significant financial savings. Devoting hundreds of hours of his time and a significant personal investment, Mark and his team have engaged fully in helping Texas families with this time consuming, confusing and often overwhelming task.
Mark is a believer in full disclosure. Most people will search online before engaging in a business relationship with a company or individual. In this regard, Mark was registered for many years as a registered representative and as a registered investment advisor. Looking at his FINRA record online as Mark Taylor Warner at the following address: http://brokercheck.finra.org/Search/Search?gclid=CNntn5C3occCFYEvgQodzToLbw you will find two “Disclosure Events”.
One item is dated February 2013. In May of 2012 three representatives of the Texas Securities Commission showed up at Mark’s offices for a random inspection. After spending 5 full days in his offices, interviewing his staff repeatedly, and requesting voluminous records of the activities conducted as an investment advisor; the Texas Securities Commission was able to find one (and only one) infraction. Mark had formed an oil and gas partnership for the benefit of some of his clients. In the Private Placement Memorandum for the partnership, Mark mistakenly used the word “commission” instead of the word “fee”. This one word resulted in a $5000 fine. However, to this day his clients who invested in the partnership have not lost any money and continue to receive income from 3 gas wells located in North Texas.
The second item on the FINRA record was a customer dispute that was settled for $837,500 for the benefit of Mark’s clients. Mark was not a defendant. The suit filed was filed against his former broker-dealer and they paid 100% of the fine. But, even though he was not a defendant in the suit filed, FINRA Rule 8312 states, “…require firms to report allegations of sales practice violations made against a registered person in an arbitration or litigation in which the registered person is not a named party”. Based on this rule, the broker-dealer was forced to file a statement on Mark’s record, even though no wrong doing was found to have been committed by Mark. The record says the following: “Although REP is not named as a respondent, the Firm has made a good faith determination that the following allegations include breach of fiduciary duty, negligent misrepresentation, and making unsuitable recommendations. Activities dated 11/15/2001-02/18/2002. Damages Granted: $837,500.00.” Mark’s former broker dealer was found to have withheld information from Mark’s clients and from Mark, as the representative. As a result they paid out the settlement to Mark’s clients. Always committed to serving the best interest of his clients, Mark was instrumental in gathering together the investors that were harmed by his broker-dealer’s actions, introducing them to an attorney who filed suit, assisting in the gathering of information used in the suit, and ultimately helping them to reclaim some of their lost funds. For those interested, Mark has a letter from the attorney who represented the plaintiffs, stating “I can unequivocally report and advise that it is my firm belief that the Warners committed no legal wrong or violation of any FINRA rules or regulations in connection with the conduct addressed and underlying Cases”. Additionally, Mark has received letters from all of the investors involved stating that they in no way hold Mark responsible. Many of these people remain clients of Mark’s today. Mark will make available to any interested party the information surrounding this report on his FINRA record. By helping his clients, Mark has unfortunately had this report added to his FINRA record. But, if he had it to do again, he would still help his clients in the same way.
Mark attended BYU immediately following his graduation from Orem High School for one year prior to serving a two year mission for his church in Southern California. Following his mission, he pursued his dream of playing basketball on a college level at Snow College in Central Utah where he obtained an AS degree. Although he was the last person cut from the team the coach wrote a letter to the BYU Hawaii basketball coach and Mark was offered a basketball scholarship in Hawaii. During his attendance at Snow, Mark met his wife Jane. Even though he had a basketball scholarship to BYU Hawaii, an academic scholarship to Utah State, and a leadership scholarship to BYU in Provo, Mark ended up attending the University of Utah so that his wife Jane could complete her four year RN program. While attending college part time he continued to develop his insurance business and then was moved by Excel to Houston. Mark continued to pursue his education there as well as when he moved to Dallas for his financial planning practice. With a growing family and business, Mark persevered in his education. He ultimately completed his BA at the University of North Texas in Finance.
Mark’s abilities to foster relationships and bring together experts from multiple disciplines are evident in his more than 35 years of business. His integrity, as well as his commitment to investors, has been proven time and time again. His constant drive to find opportunities even in light of challenges through the exploration and development of new strategies and technologies sets Mark apart as a business leader.
Smart, funny and upbeat, Mark also brings enthusiasm to everything he does both on and off the job. He has been married to his wife Jane for nearly 4 decades, is the proud father of eight children and is active in his church and volunteer activities in the DFW area. Mark also enjoys his 27 grandchildren, soon to number 29.