OUR STORY

Your Success is Our Success

The 16th president of the United States may be credited with that popular quote about the importance of planning, but the team at First Financial lives by it. We are a 30-year strong, family-owned wealth management and financial advisory firm with a team of experts who plan financial futures for clients across the country.

We believe in partnering closely with our clients to help them not only build wealth, but also to plan for life’s opportunities and the unexpected. We do that by listening to their life stories, then providing guidance as they live it out. Our confidence comes from our experience and teamwork. We are skilled planners with careers in financial services at the highest level, but not product pushers. When you work with us, the financial plan you receive has the stamp of approval from not just one advisor, but a team who has collaborated strategically, studying your individualized plan from every angle.

We take the complicated and make it simple. Acting as a fiduciary in our relationships is a point of pride. We are naturally driven to put our clients’ needs first, and that’s what we do. Your success is our success. We are your financial planners, asset managers and a family business dedicated to keeping an open door with our clients … always.

Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four hours sharpening the ax."

Abraham Lincoln

Meet Our Team

First Financial Services team

Thomas D. Sanders, CLU®, MSFS
Chief Executive Officer/Financial Advisor
(501) 666-0302
tsanders@firstfinservices.com

Thomas D. Sanders, CLU®, MSFS Chief Executive Officer/Financial Advisor

In 1990 Tom founded the firm that is now First Financial Services. Prior to that he served as Chief Operating Officer of Union Life Insurance Company. Under his leadership, First Financial has grown from a one-person firm with a few clients to one with advisors skilled in a multitude of areas and clients throughout the U.S. In addition to helping clients with estate conservation and retirement planning, Tom serves as an instructor for Life at its Best, a retirement class developed by First Financial advisors and conducted at educational institutions throughout Arkansas. He has served on the Board of Directors of Enterprise Investments Inc. and Old Surety Life Insurance Company.

Tom holds a master’s degree in Financial Services (MSFS) from The American College and is a Chartered Life Underwriter (CLU)*. He is a Registered Representative, series 7; a Registered Principal, series 24; and holds security and insurance licenses in Arkansas and 24 other states.

He and his wife Kathy have six children and 13 grandchildren and are active in church and charitable activities. Tom loves fly fishing and playing golf.

Stephen J. Sanders
President/Financial Advisor
(501) 666-0302
ssanders@firstfinservices.com

Stephen J. Sanders, President/Financial Advisor

Steve joined First Financial Services in 2012 after a 15-year career as a Senior Stock Analyst/Managing Director at Stephens Inc.  During his tenure at Stephens, he published stock and industry research reports primarily targeted to leading institutional money managers in the United States, Canada and Europe. His primary areas of focus were electrical/industrial equipment, alternative energy technology and property and casualty insurance.  

Steve has a BA in Economics from Westminster College in Fulton, Missouri. He holds the Series 24, 7, 86, 87, 63 and 66 licenses, as well as an Arkansas license for life and health insurance. Steve enjoys spending time with his children, is active in his church and is an enthusiastic participant in many outdoor activities.

F. John Deuschle, III
Senior Vice President/Financial Advisor
(501) 666-0302
jdeuschle@firstfinservices.com

John graduated from Little Rock Catholic High School, attended Southern Methodist University and graduated from the University of Arkansas. He has 28 years of experience in investment banking and asset management, including corporate finance, debt capital markets, structuring/origination, fixed income, private and public equity, derivatives, sales and trading, investment management, research analysis, financial planning and life insurance.

John began his career with Lehman Brothers (New York and Dallas), followed by Bank of America (Charlotte), HSBC (National Sales Manager, New York), and Stephens, Inc. (Little Rock/New York), before forming Deuschle Capital Management in 2007. John joined First Financial Services in 2016.

John serves on numerous boards and community outreach programs including The Salvation Army, Catholic High School for Boys Foundation (previous president; Finance Committee chairman), Ducks Unlimited Investment Sub-committees U.S./Canada. He is an Eagle Scout.

John has exemplary core values and work ethic backed by his integrity and faith. John and his wife Ginny have four daughters: Starr, Lila, Blakeslee and Hollis.

Donald G. Baker, CLU®, ChFC®
Executive Vice President / Financial Advisor
(479) 271-9952
dbaker@firstfinservices.com

Donald G. Baker, CLU®, ChFC® Executive Vice President / Financial Advisor

With a financial services career that spans many decades, Don is one of the firm’s most experienced advisors. His expertise in estate conservation, business and retirement planning and education has provided him with a well-earned reputation as a trusted advisor. He is one of the creators and instructors for First Financial’s retirement class, Life at its Best. Over the years he has been active in a number of industry organizations.

Don is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi and is a Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC)** and a Chartered Life Underwriter. He is a U.S. Air Force veteran.
Don and his wife Mary have two children and three grandchildren. They are active members of their local church and involved in civic and social activities. Don is an avid exotic automobile enthusiast and loves to play golf when time permits.

Kristi Hopkins
Director of Administration and Client Relations
(501) 666-0302
khopkins@firstfinservices.com

Kristi Hopkins, Director of Administration and Client Relations

Kristi is located at the firm’s supervisory branch in Little Rock. She acts as a liaison between clients and advisors to ensure clients’ needs are addressed fully and promptly.

With more than 15 years of professional administrative experience, she has a genuine interest in serving and meeting client needs and is focused on providing excellent customer service and advisor support. She makes it her mission to ensure our clients have an exceptional experience each time they interact with our team.

Kristi assists with securities and insurance processing. She is responsible for all aspects of account services, including rollovers, transfers, contributions, distributions, and account management changes such beneficiary and address changes.

Kristi attended the University of Central Arkansas where she studied Business Administration. She volunteers with several non-profit organizations and is a Court Appointed Special Advocate for children in foster care.

Antoinette Diavatopoulos
Registered Assistant
(479) 271-9952
tonid@firstfinservices.com

Antoinette Diavatopoulos, Registered Assistant

Toni is located at our Northwest Arkansas branch. As a registered assistant, she provides daily operational advisor and client support. Toni holds her Series 7, 52, and 63 licenses and has spent her entire career in the financial services industry. Prior to joining our team, she spent over twenty years at Stephens as a registered sales assistant. She joined First Financial Services in 2019.

Our Partners

Registered Investment Advisor

First Financial works hand-in-hand with Sowell Management. Formed in 1995, Sowell is a pioneer as a fee-based fiduciary and a nationwide industry leader in the Registered Investment Advisor space. Known as an “advisor to financial advisors,” Sowell Management is a valued partner providing a full breadth of support and best-in-class resources.

Visit SowellManagement.com

Broker Dealer

First Financial also works closely with M.S. Howells & Co., a registered, full-service broker-dealer offering comprehensive solutions for financial professionals, specializing in Hybrid RIA, Prime Brokerage, and professional trade desk services. Committed to offering an individualized, professional experience, M.S. Howells has built a reputation on integrity and trust that is part of everything they do. 

Visit MSHowells.com

Investment Firms

First Financial partners with the largest custodial firms in the U.S – TD Ameritrade, Charles Schwab and Fidelity. All three have a reputation as high integrity custodians, making them a perfect fit for First Financial and our clients. We utilize these custodians to execute transactions and hold and clear our clients’ assets.

Who We Serve

Whether you are in a career and still moving up, an established professional who is planning to put your working days behind you and move on to other activities or a business owner with complicated investment strategies and tax considerations, First Financial is the team to turn to. Over time, we become more than your financial advisor. Through the years of learning the ins-and-outs of your family or business, we help you grow financially while building a trusted partnership.

who we serve - young couple
who we serve - retired people

* DESIGNATIONS
Tom Sanders
Post-Secondary Education
The American College, Chartered Life Underwriter

CLU® stands for Chartered Life Underwriter and is awarded by The American College. The course of study involved in this designation provides in-depth knowledge on the insurance needs of individuals, business owners and professional clients. The CLU® curriculum focuses on the role of planning for insurance needs. Pre-requisites require the designee to have three (3) years of full-time business experience within the five (5) years preceding the awarding of the designation. Designees must complete eight (8) or more college-level courses, five (5) required and three (3) electives, representing an average study time of 400 hours. Topics for required courses include insurance and financial planning, life insurance law, estate planning, and planning for business owners and professionals. Elective courses include advanced topics such as income taxes, group benefits, retirement planning, and health insurance. Designees are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two (2) years. The continuing education requirement is optional for those whose designation is grandfathered.  

** DESIGNATIONS
Donald Baker
Post-Secondary Education
The American College, Charter Financial Consultant, 1983 

Those with the ChFC® designation have been prepared to meet the advanced financial planning needs of individuals, professionals and small business owners. The ChFC® is issued by The American College. The American College is accredited by the Commission on Higher Education of the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools. The ChFC® is issued to professionals who have three years of full-time business experience within the five years preceding the awarding of the designation. The designee is then required to complete nine (9) required and (3) elective college-level courses from The American College. The required course of study includes insurance and financial planning. The average study time to earn the ChFC® exceeds 450 hours. Designees must then pass a series of written examinations as well as attest and adhere to The American College’s Code of Ethics. In addition, the designee is required to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two years through The American College. The continuing education requirement is optional for those whose designation is grandfathered. 

 

The American College, Chartered Life Underwriter, 1979 

CLU® stands for Chartered Life Underwriter and is awarded by The American College. The course of study involved in this designation provides in-depth knowledge on the insurance needs of individuals, business owners and professional clients. The CLU® curriculum focuses on the role of planning for insurance needs. Pre-requisites require the designee to have three (3) years of full-time business experience within the five (5) years preceding the awarding of the designation. Designees must complete eight (8) or more college-level courses, five (5) required and three (3) electives, representing an average study time of 400 hours. Topics for required courses include insurance and financial planning, life insurance law, estate planning, and planning for business owners and professionals. Elective courses include advanced topics such as income taxes, group benefits, retirement planning, and health insurance. Designees are required to complete 30 hours of continuing education every two (2) years. The continuing education requirement is optional for those whose designation is grandfathered.