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Advisor’s death in Vegas shooting leaves RIA firm struggling on multiple fronts

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As Steve Berger’s colleagues at EFS Advisors were setting up a memorial fund for his family, they were also wrestling with a business problem: There wasn’t a strong continuity plan for his practice.

Berger, a financial advisor, was killed in the Oct. 1 mass shooting in Las Vegas, and his death shook the tight-knit hybrid RIA in Cambridge, Minnesota.

“It’s been a trying week,” says Dorothy S. Fuller, the firm’s director of operations.

Berger was in Las Vegas to celebrate his 44th birthday with a fellow advisor and colleague at the firm, Josh Decker. They were at the Route 91 Harvest country music festival when the shooting began. In the chaos, they became separated.

Berger’s worried clients began calling soon after it became public he was at the concert and missing, Fuller says. After two days of searching hospitals, Decker showed his photo to the coroner, who confirmed Berger had been killed.

He was about to celebrate a decade at the 40-member firm, Fuller says. The firm writes in a memorial to Berger on its homepage that Berger was noted for his advisory work by local media.

“Steve was an overall amazing person,” Fuller says. “He was a great financial planner, he was a great father. I don’t know how he juggled everything. He was beloved by his clients. He made a contribution to our firm every day.”

Decker is now helping with Berger’s clients, who have been supportive and understanding, Fuller says. He did not return calls for comment.

“It just showed us we were unfortunately not prepared for this kind of circumstance,” Fuller says. “People retire and you have time to plan and transfer accounts. If something good comes of this, we now have policies in place for such an event.”

Berger is survived by his three children, Hannah, 15, Harrison, 12, and Harlow, 9, along with his parents Dick and Mary Berger, and sister, Christine, according to the firm. Donations to the memorial fund can be made to: EFS Advisors, Attn.: Steve Berger Memorial Fund, 440 Emerson St. N., Suite 2, Cambridge MN 55008. A fund has also been set up at YouCaring and you can donate by going to YouCaring — Steve Berger.

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