Personal Wealth Management Philosophy
HOW OUR FIRM WAS DIFFERENT FROM EARLY ON
In the early 1980s, when Mike and Lon started in the financial services industry, the basic business model for a Financial Advisor (more commonly known as a Broker) was to sell a product and earn a commission. The idea of servicing a client mostly revolved around seeking additional opportunities for Brokers to make more sales, and, of course, earn more commissions.
Mike and Lon started GBB in 1987 with a different vision. They wanted to make the business about putting the clients’ interests first and about building up as much expertise in the firm as they could. This would allow them to truly be Financial Advisors to clients at a time when that idea was more a concept than a business model. There were a few basic principles they worked by: charge a clearly disclosed fee, operate without conflicts of interest, invest money prudently, and provide competent ongoing advice to their clients. They started a fee-based independent advisory practice in 1993, one of the first in the region. All because Mike and Lon understood that both the client and our firm could be best served by focusing on serving our clients’ needs. Hence our original tagline, “Your Best Interest. Always.”
With our growing Retirement Plan Management team forming a core part of our business and now serving over 100 participant directed corporate retirement plans, we offer a range of solutions for individuals, corporations, and institutions. And it's all built on a foundation of hiring great people and building trust in the community every day. GBB has grown from just three advisors starting out nearly 30 years ago to more than 20 co-workers advising more than $2.0 billion of our clients’ savings today.
HOW OUR TEAM IS COMPENSATED
It is our belief that our financial advisors, business management, and support staff should have financial incentives that align the interests of the clients and the firm’s long-term well-being.
Every employee earns a competitive base salary and generous benefits for performing their job function. Staff and business management employees have the opportunity for an annual bonus, which is assessed based on their job performance and embodying our core values. Our advisors earn a percentage of the fee generated by his or her service of each client, providing the advisor ownership in serving the interest of the client. Because we’re primarily fee-based, we have little interest in buying or selling securities to make a commission, and we only earn more if your assets grow. If they lose value, our fee decreases by a corresponding amount.
We do offer insurance products to clients whose financial plans reveal a need. We will always disclose the fact that we’re discussing a commission bearing product and discuss alternatives before making a recommendation. If we decide together to proceed, we will seek out cost effective options that meet your needs.
Eighty percent of GBB’s ownership is with active employees of the organization; we offer an opportunity for ownership to any employee who is able to establish a consistent track record of strong job performance, of creating and deepening key client relationships, or of adding value above and beyond job performance expectations in a leadership position, and has established him or herself as a flagbearer of our culture.
HOW OUR ADVISOR TEAM IS STRUCTURED
Serving the interests of individual clients requires skill in investment management, financial planning, insurance, estate planning, and tax. Serving our retirement plan clients requires deep knowledge of ERISA law, the retirement plan regulatory and service provider landscape, skill in investment management as a fiduciary, and the ability to provide participant advice at a personal level.
GBB believes our clients are best served by a team of specialists rather than an individual or a team of generalists. Regardless of who is building the relationship, a client is a client of the firm, which allows for the best service to that client based on their needs. This approach also facilitates building a team of technically proficient financial advisors, each with an area of focused specialty. Our advisors are incentivized to be a leader in their specialty area and work in collaboration with other advisors to serve the needs of our clients.
HOW DO WE CREATE VALUE FOR CLIENTS?
As we work each to enhance our reputation as Trusted Wealth Advisors, we build deep relationships with our clients, and our process features both thoughtful financial planning and disciplined investing as pillars of the value we provide. We care about our clients and are passionate about getting to know them. We believe knowing our clients deeply is essential to giving them the right financial advice.
Financial planning is the process we use to help our clients clarify their priorities and put our expertise to work in their lives. With a clear, living financial plan, you’ll always know where you stand and where you’re headed.
We believe that putting in the work to achieve investment expertise and to build a comprehensive view of the world and markets helps us make the right investment management decisions for our clients. We know our clients and their investment needs better than anyone, so we don’t outsource the thinking on asset allocations and investment management selection to others.
For retirement plan clients, our value rests on thoughtful investment management, independent fiduciary consulting, and on promoting informed participant engagement with their plans to make good saving and investing decisions.
THE FUTURE OF GBB
The opportunity for GBB to serve clients is greater than it ever has been. We have established a culture and team which we believe set us apart. In many ways, GBB was at the vanguard in resetting industry paradigms with the shift to a fee based model and putting clients’ interests at the heart of the business. Now, shaped by forces like technology and regulatory complexity, financial advising is changing in new ways. Industry standards we sought to advance with our founding mission are continually moving, and the future of GBB is about moving, after careful consideration of the long-term, to the forefront in client access, transparency, risk management, and value offered for fees charged.
We are also committed to growth. We are investing in refreshing the ranks of our advisor and supporting talent, opening new offices to take advantage of opportunity in Northern California and to be closer to our clients, and as always, striving relentlessly to improve our firm and ourselves.