This blog post is a fresh, thoughtful, and fun interview of our founder, Tim Randle.
What led you to create Wealthbridge?
I wanted a comprehensive planning firm where I could deliver my clients what they needed, regardless of what that was. I did not want to be forced to try to sell proprietary products or be subject to some type of quota.
Was there a specific moment or experience that began your entrepreneurial journey?
That goes way back—much earlier than Wealthbridge. I think I started my first business in fifth grade. I would go from car to car selling iced tea in the summer to the drivers waiting to renew their tags at the DMV. No kidding it was the most profitable business I’ve ever run!
How did your years of military service prepare you for finance?
This may be hard to believe! Being a military intelligence officer and an aviator perfectly prepared me for financial planning. The parallels are crazy. You research the environment, you make the best plan you can, you put in some checks and balances and times, and then as you execute your plan you use natural feedback to make improvements. I could talk about this for hours.
Why do people need a financial advisor?
One of my favorite reasons is you are just too close to make good decisions. Just like a golfer can’t see his own swing, people can’t see their own paths. Many financial advisors use “coach” as an analogy for what they do – I think it’s very accurate.
Can’t people simply use an app and have an algorithm invest their money?
Absolutely. They certainly can! And I encourage everyone to use at least that— isn’t that just taking the coach philosophy and trying to distillate down to an economical and easily usable form?
I guess the question is, “What’s the difference between an app on your phone and an advisor in an office?” Not everybody needs an advisor right now. I have seen some clients come to us on a part-time or situational basis because they just haven’t needed us full-time yet. On the other hand, when you’re talking about the rest of your life, if your children will go to college, if you were successfully be able to navigate estate, tax law, and other family members at Thanksgiving… Do you want to trust that just an app?
How is Wealthbridge different from, and better than, the financial planning “chains” that advertise everywhere?
This question scared me just a little bit – I don’t want to put down anybody else. Every relationship, whether it’s an app on your phone or a newly-trained salesman from one of the big chains, has value.
What I think makes us special: fiduciary mindset, transparency, experience, training, certifications...lack of conflicts... and of course I like to think I’m pretty good at what I do!
You talk about being a financial coach for your clients. Explain why that is important.
Tiger Woods won a golf tournament this year. He missed years because of personal turmoil and injuries. He’s had some of the best coaches in the game, helping him recover and fine tune. Sometimes it’s mental, sometimes it’s physical. If the best player in the world has a coach, doesn’t make sense that having a coach would help you become better no matter who you are?
The more I think about this now, the more I wonder if a caddy wouldn’t be a better analogy— i’m a subject matter expert here to advise and suggest. And I’ll carry your clubs!
When you first meet a potential client, what will be your first question?
Tell me about your family.
What I really want to know is what’s important about money to a client, and learning about their family is a great way to understand the answers to that question. It also helps me learn a lot about their background, their philosophies, and sometimes some hidden risks or concerns that the family has (and sometimes even ones they don’t now).
What is likely to be the potential client’s first question?
9 out of 10 times it’s about cost. So many people are afraid hiring a financial advisor is insanely expensive or only for the ultra-high net worth. It’s not. That’s the biggest reason we, as a firm, do at least an initial meeting with clients at no cost in order to determine what clients need and expect. There’s no point in paying us if we can’t meet your expectations or in charging you if you aren’t a good fit for us.
Tell us about the most difficult financial challenge facing your clientele today.
I see a LOT of Gen X and younger Baby Boomers taking care of parents as well as still having children at home. Long term care costs and college expenses have both grown at something like 2-4x the rate of inflation (depends where you live, etc). We’ve helped a lot of folks with both of those topics. Many clients tell us we have to get that puzzle solved or there is no retirement.
Tell us about the greatest opportunity you see for your clients.
This is the most favorable economic environment I’ve seen in my career. Taxes are relatively low, tax law is good, the market is good, the economy is going well, rates—while rising—are still low. This feels like a place where some good decisions can have impacts for years.
What is the one question potential clients should ask you but don’t?
Oh man! That’s tough. Can I have two?
The first is credentials. I believe if you’re over 40 or over 30 and have kids you should seek an advisor who is a Certified Financial Planner (CFP), Chartered Financial Consultant (ChFC), or Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA). I think the CFP is probably the most important designation for advisors that see clients, and the CFA is most important for advisors that manage portfolios.
The second is mindset: “Are you a fiduciary?” No matter how old you are and what if you’re trying to accomplish, you should have an advisor that puts your goals and needs ahead of theirs. To me that’s just common sense.
Let’s wrap up with fun questions. How do you teach your kids about money?
In little pieces. My favorite money story: My daughter saved all of her birthday and Christmas money for year because we were going to Disney. When we got there she loaded all of her cash onto a Disney debit card. She bought her first toy and I asked her how she was going to keep track of how much money she had left— keep in mind she was six— and after thinking about it for minute she said, “I know how much I had when I started, so I will just subtract what I spend each time from what was left.”
She basically invented balancing the checkbook on her own!
And it’s not just the technicalities and administrations of money, it’s also the philosophy: I will tell our children that we can’t afford things so that they understand what it means to go without. We also try to instill charity and civic responsibility— donating time and money to important causes hope to reinforce the value of what’s truly important.
If you weren’t a financial advisor, what job would you hold?
Wow that’s hard. Anything? High school or college baseball coach would be great. I love laying tile—we’ve done a ton of tile projects. CEO of a non-profit that was fighting child hunger and homelessness. Governor sounds good, too!