Eric Brotman is the CEO of BFG Financial Advisors, an independent firm assisting clients with wealth creation, preservation, and distribution. He is also the author of Don’t Retire… Graduate!: Building a Path to Financial Freedom and Retirement at Any Age. We talk about multi-generational financial planning, the benefits of flexible leadership, and why retirement should not mean the end of your productive life.
Listen to the podcast here
Give Your Stakeholders a Say with Eric Brotman
Our guest is Eric Brotman, the CEO of BFG Financial Advisors, an independent firm assisting clients with wealth creation, preservation and distribution. Eric’s been building his own firm since 2003 and has acquired eight wealth management related professional certifications. Never seen that, anyone do that many along the way. He is the host of the Don’t Retire graduate podcast as well. So welcome to the show, Eric.
Steve, it’s great to be here. Thank you so much.
I’m excited to dive into your topic and you’ve got a lot of information here. But let’s start about this journey of, you know, you’ve been investment for about 10 years and you founded your own company and then you’ve been growing this since 2003. So tell me about the journey and how you got to the point where you are now.
It was a complete accident. I came out of college with an English and psychology background and was planning on law school and was thinking about tax law or corporate law or something like that and I I took a job out of school at a brokerage firm, a major brokerage firm in their legal department and I fell in love with their, with the brokerage world, with the financial world and decided not to go to law school and so in 1994 I started a practice as a young guy who knew nothing and had no network worth a darn other than recent college graduates, I started a practice. And at that point in time, it was important for me because I looked like I was 12, Steve.
It was important for me to build my knowledge base so that I could speak intelligently. And one of the reasons why I have so many certifications is because early in my career, I didn’t have a lot of clients, but I did have a lot of time. And so I took a lot of school because I thought I need to know more than the people I’m speaking to, to be intelligent about this, even though I don’t have the life experience, I need to make sure I have the technical piece. And of course, the life experience comes now it’s 30 years later. And I rely as much on if not more on my real world human experience than I do on the technical piece. I can hire technical people now.
So it’s so the journey was an accident. In 2003, I started this firm partly because I had helped launch another firm four years prior with a more senior partner. And he and I were going in different directions. And you know, it’s nice because it was never a divorce. It was a, we referred to it kind of as a graduation. It was kind of like, all right, you’re ready, go get them. And so that’s sort of where some of this graduation idea came from. And I know we’ll talk about that a little bit later today, but the idea of constantly advancing and moving forward was very important to me.
And so in 03, I started the business, bootstrapped like crazy, borrowed money from everywhere and everyone and said, I’m all in, this is either going to work or it’s not. And fortunately it’s worked and it’s worked abundantly. And now we have 21 people and seven financial advisors and we’re growing exponentially and we’re having a whole lot of fun. We’re taking care of families all over the country and even outside of the US.
So I always admire entrepreneurs who manage to build a professional service firm because it’s a tough challenge. You basically are working, your raw material is your people and it takes, especially in your area, it takes a long time for someone to become really proficient and you have to support them and keep them. When they are successful, it’s harder to keep them, especially if they are entrepreneurial. So we’re going to get into this in a little while but I’d like to start with this idea of the management blueprints I’m always mining for frameworks, the committee structure. I’ve never heard anyone other than big fortune companies having committees and it really struck me how does it work for a small, you know, 20, 25 person professional service firm. So tell me a little bit about how it came about and how that structure works for you.
It came about kind of organically in that I am the world’s worst manager. I consider myself a fabulous coach, advisor, mentor, cheerleader, but in terms of actual management skills, that is not in my roundhouse. So I wanted to make sure that we did a few things. One, I wanted to make sure when we were building this that we build it as flat as possible and that we didn’t have a lot of hierarchy. First of all, as a small company, the last thing you need is your boss’s boss’s boss telling you what to do. That’s silly. And everything about corporate America that I mostly don’t like, I wanted to eschew. So that was first.
Second is, I really want our folks, whether they’re relatively new here or whether they’re 10, 15, 20 year veterans, I really wanted them to have a say in how we do things. And so we set up, everything I do is about stakeholder groups. It’s about having a very, casting a wide net. It’s about getting advice and counsel from as many people as possible. I was never afraid to ask for help and I’m still not. And I don’t perceive that I’m either the most knowledgeable person in the room ever, or even that some of our younger employees can’t bring incredible value to the table. So we have committees for everything.
We have an investment committee and we have a marketing committee and we have a client relations team. And we have these different groups and decisions are really made that way. Each team has a team lead, but they’re not managers, they’re not supervisors, they’re just the one who is digesting and sort of taking the agendas and distilling the information to share it with the group. So that we don’t have to have a hundred meetings to figure something out. That’s a giant waste of time. So for example, we wanted to change our CRM. And that’s a major undertaking, no matter how big or small you are.
But you have to listen to all your various stakeholders in order to do something that mundane. And it means listening to your clients, it means listening to your employees, it means understanding your vendors, it means understanding the technology. And I don’t perceive that I know all of that or even half of it. So having this structure really worked because we got everyone’s perspective and we made decisions together and we sink or swim together. I mean, if the decisions are great, we high five in the hallway. And when decisions aren’t great, you know, we go back to the drawing board and that’s okay. We take our lumps together.Effective management in a professional service firm involves a flat structure and diverse committees, ensuring collective decision-making and shared accountability. Click To Tweet
So, it’s very interesting the way you described this. And it sounds like you get the consensus most of the time. And I’ve worked with very few companies who actually can do that. So most of the time there is consensus, but 20% of the time there is no consensus. And we get into this beating the dead horse kind of situation where we agree to disagree. And it’s so important in these moments to have someone to actually break the ties, make a decision. So how does it work for you? Are you the tiebreaker or you really can get to consensus on average?
Well, generally we do get to consensus, but we also have a saying around the office that is trust the expert. And so whomever is the lead on any given project, whatever it is, is the tiebreaker. And fortunately, we’ve never had a contentious vote, never. In fact, even with my business partners, as ownership, as shareholders, we’ve never once had to vote our shares. Never. We’ve always found a way to make this work for everybody and maybe that’s a panacea, maybe it’s, maybe we’re due at some point for some really difficult situation, but the reality is I think we’ve all, we’ve all spent so much time trying to make this work for all of us and it’s not that the organization is some kind of socialist utopia. It’s not that all of us are equal in our roles or our responsibilities or our incomes or any of those things. It’s that everyone’s heard and everyone’s voice matters.
So, does it require a kind of a flexible leadership style?
I think so. A flexible leadership style for sure.
So, do you characterize yourself as a visionary leader or more. What kind of leader are you?
I’m, you know, there are people who are at 10,000 feet, people who are at 30,000 feet, I’m in orbit somewhere. So I’m big picture all the time. And we have folks here who are fabulous on the runway, on the ground and get things done. And so I consider myself responsible for the vision and for the business development, for the growth ideas. I absolutely expect to implement nothing. Simply because I think there are people who are better at that than I am. We can dream it up. They can tell us if it’s going to work or if it’s doable. And if it is, I can get out of their way and let them figure out the best way to do it.
I love that, so I’m thinking about Steve Jobs. You know, he was a visionary leader. He was high high level but he also paid attention to the details you want to make sure that this iPhone was, you know, he wanted to have the wouldn’t prototype and they wanted to touch it and, and to make sure that the product is exactly the way it is. There’s a broad vision and as long as we are moving towards it, the details are irrelevant. And then you have the person that the details count as much as the big picture. Maybe it’s about being a product company as opposed to service. I don’t know. I’m just trying to hone in on this.
Some of it is that. It’s difficult to demonstrate in a service industry what we do. In fact, my wife and I meet with one of our other advisors here. And I take off my business owner and advisor hat and put on my husband hat, and we spend time sitting on the other side of the table and having as close to the real experience as possible that clients have. I want to know what it feels like. And this comes back to what Starbucks did with the $5 cup of coffee that could have been 99 cents. They created an experience.
I want working with us to be an experience. And I don’t mean with smoke and mirrors. I mean, I really want it to feel like the place that you would go to get the big questions answered and to get advocacy and counsel and not to feel like you’ve been customered, if you know what I mean. And we have an advisory board that we have clients serve on. We have an employee council that the employees vote for their own members once a year. And those are the ones who really run all the employee meetings and the owners are not involved. And so many people have warned me about doing all of these things.
I’ve had so many so-called experts who said you can’t do that. You’re starting a union. Well, we didn’t start a union. And even from a business owner perspective, Steve, I started selling shares of this company in my late 30s. People thought I was nuts. They’re like, it’s not ripe on the vine yet. And I said, in order to ripen this, I need to have the agents of change. And if I don’t have the right people on this bus, it’s just me. So I started selling shares when they were on sale. They are no longer inexpensive. And that’s a beautiful thing, but we’ve succeeded together.
It’s not something that I did to them. And I certainly didn’t do it for them. I didn’t give equity away. I never, ever advised people to give equity away, but I sold it and I sold it in a fair way and I helped make sure that it worked. And as a result, there are currently three of us. There may be five owners by year end. We’ve offered some shares for year end to two folks who’ve been with us 10 years and are amazing. And they’re going to make decisions.
And if they decide they want to participate and be owners of this firm, we’d love to have them. And if they decide that they don’t wanna do that, that’s okay, there’s no punitive action there. This is an opportunity for them that I hope they’ll take advantage of if it’s right for them. And it just, it makes us kindred spirits in a lot of important ways.Creating a company culture where everyone has a say, ensuring that shared success involves shared ownership and decisions, makes us kindred spirits united in our journey to redefine the client experience. Click To Tweet
That’s great. I love this idea of selling shares to your partners to make them have skin in the game and make them feel that they are a co-owner, they are not an employee, they are a partner and that completely changes the mindset. I remember I did something similar in my firm and I shared some equity with three of my key employees and it completely changed their attitude and they started looking at the big picture long term. It was fabulous until we hit the financial crisis then kind of it went a little bit sideways.
One of the reasons why we have everyone here, including partners on base salaries, is so that we don’t run into that situation for rank and file employees. It’s one thing for owners to take that risk. It’s another thing for employees to take that risk. And so lots of people want incentive compensation and they want to forego the salary and take incentive compensation when things are good. But as soon as you hit that one bad year, it’s like, hey, wait a minute, I didn’t sign up for that.
And we were burned a little bit there. We had some people who said, wait a minute, I’m not making what I should be making. And I’m thinking I’m not making anything. Welcome to my world. This is no fun right now. But that’s not a risk that non-entrepreneurial people are willing to take or really understand. And I actually think we’re benefiting them by coaching them away from it. Because what I’ve said is I’m perfectly willing to do it. But here’s what happens. You’ll have four or five them away from it.
Because what I’ve said is I’m perfectly willing to do it, but here’s what happens. You’ll have four or five terrific years and then one that’s horrendous and you will feel differently about going to work every morning. And they sort of get it. There’s some people who want that type of financial risk aligned with their careers. And there’s others who really need to know that the mortgage is being paid in a different way. And I don’t where people are in their lives.
I guess in hindsight, maybe another difference is that when you’re the founder, you kind of control the shareholder. It is easier to bear those difficult years because you are in control of your own destiny. Whereas if you’re a minor partner, minority partner, you’re not even in control. So it’s probably even harder for them. So just for their defense, looking back, I didn’t quite see it that way when I was the majority owner but I think that also plays a part in them not being as entrepreneurial in times of crisis as perhaps the founder.
But anyway, I’d like to talk a little bit about your business. So you are into the multi-generational planning positioning in your market. And, you know, that’s kind of a big idea. I spoke with a wealth management guy this last week. I was at the conference and he said that they have some clients where they are counseling four different generations. So it’s like a really long-term strategy. So tell me about how do you get into this and how is a multi-generational approach different from maybe an individual centered approach.
Are you familiar with the blue ocean concept?
Red Ocean blue ocean.
Correct. That’s sort of where this came from. The idea that financial advisors, there was a lot of chum in the water going after these 70 year old retirees and their rollovers and so forth. And financial advisors were literally stepping on each other to get to those people. And 20 years ago, what I realized was all of those people who have abundance and who’ve built some wealth are going to leave that wealth to folks who are going to need advice and right now are being turned away by those same advisors because they don’t have high net worth.
I said if we become the go-to for their kids who are 45, not 70. They’re making a good living. They’ve got tax issues. They’ve got family issues. They’ve got estate issues. They’ve got insurance and risk management stuff. They’re busy people. They want that same kind of attention, but they might not be high net worth yet, but they’re going to be, partly because we can help them get there, in which case that’s a very tight relationship, and partly because they’re going to inherit money from other clients, you know, from from their parents who are at other firms. And ultimately, we’re going to wind up having that control in that relationship.
In addition, those 45 year olds, when they’re 60 and their parents are 85, it’s the 60 year old who are now taking care of mom and dad’s affairs. They’re the attorneys. In fact, they’re the ones who are making health care decisions. They’re the ones who are making philanthropic decisions and so forth and creating legacy. And people want to see their money put to good use, whether it’s charitable or family. And so the dialogue between generations is priceless if you can do it right. And so we’ve sort of cut through the veil of secrecy between generations so that there’s some honest and open communication about what’s important because it’s never money.Understanding the wealth transfer process is not about chasing the wealth of the elderly but building relationships that transcend generations. Click To Tweet
What’s important is not the money. It’s more than that. It’s the vision, it’s the values, it’s who’s important, what’s important. And when you create those dialogues, I know lots of people and I’ll joke with them. I’ll say, I know your kids are rotten, but your grandkids are perfect. Let’s talk about them. And I say that tongue in cheek, but they all get it. And I’m not a grandfather yet, nor am I in a hurry to be one. However, I expect that if I’m blessed in that way, that he or she will be perfect in every way, of course. My point is that the folks who are driving this train are the folks who are the sandwich generation.
And they look a lot like me. I’m 50 years old. I’m worried about my folks who are getting older, and they’re coming to me for assistance. I’m educating my daughter. I’m taking care of business and working a lot of hours And if this isn’t what I did for a living, I certainly wouldn’t be managing my own financials I would want somebody to help with the whole continuum And so multi-generational planning requires a lot of skills that not every advisor has one of which is being able to run a family summit or a family meeting and have honest dialogue about what’s really going to happen to the lake house if You leave it to your eight children.
Because three of them are going to want to sell it, two of them are going to want to lever it, three of them are going to want to live in it, and you’re going to have conflict and it’s going to ruin Thanksgiving. It’s not necessary. You can avoid conflict by planning in advance. And so that’s one. The other skill set it requires is, I believe, multi-generational advisors. So we have advisors here in their 20s and 30s and 40s and in a lot of cases, you know, my typical client now is is 60-65 years old simply because I’ve been working with them for 20 years Their kids don’t want to work with me. I’m the old guy in the corner They want to work with someone who speaks their language.
And so we get the opportunity to have someone who who is a kindred spirit in some ways, or at least is a colleague who can work with these folks, and they don’t feel like they’re with their mom and dad’s advisor. And that’s a big deal. Nobody wants to work with their, you don’t want your father’s physician, you don’t want your father’s accountant, you don’t want to, but you’d be happy to work with someone in the same firm if you could build your own rapport and your own relationship. And so we’ve been able to create a career for young financial advisors that for the most part doesn’t exist. This is a tough business to get into as a young person.
There is no, there’s no blueprint. If you want to be a lawyer, you go to law school. If you want to be a doctor, you go to med school. If you want to be an accountant, you get your CPA. There’s no path into this business except the traditional one, which is sell or starve. And so we’ve been able to create a career for people where it’s almost an apprenticeship and they can come in and for three, four, five years, learn and get licensed and watch and help and grow into advisors and never have to do business development ever at all. They don’t have to sell anyone anything ever. Oh, and you know, people looked at that sort of job description said, well, that doesn’t exist. They’re going to give me a phone book and tell me to dial for dollars or they’re going to say, who are your 100 best friends? Let’s sell them something.
We do not do that one iota. And you can be a very successful financial advisor in our model without doing business development. Now, business development leads to being a partner and it leads to other things. So it’s not that we’re not wanting to develop people that way, but I know the clients that I was attracting at 24 are different than the clients I attracted 50. And frankly, we’d rather have the ones I can attract 50 to work with the folks who are in their 20s and 30s now. So it’s the best of both worlds. We’re allowing people with the networks to do the business development and the people with the time and the recent training to do a lot of the nuts and bolts. And it’s a great harmony.
That makes a lot of sense. So it basically allows people, young people to focus on sharpening the soul and getting the skills up, doing their age certifications, perhaps, as you did, and, you know, and kind of being mentored by the more senior professionals. And by the time they get there, they will have all the confidence and the clientele to do the business development, probably in a non-pounding-the-pavement way, in a much more organic way.
They’ll never have to do the kinds of things that I did early in my career to make sure that I paid rent. And some would argue that’s not good. Some would argue it’s an important thing to learn. But I actually think that clients or prospective clients smell the desperation in someone the way a dog smells fear. I don’t want anyone ever to walk into our office and feel like they’re meeting with someone who has to get to yes or they’re not going to eat. It just doesn’t exist.
I want everyone in our office to be able to say, you know what, I’m not sure that this is the right fit, or I understand that that decision or, you know, when you’re ready, we’ll be here. And there’s no need to hard sell anyone. We there’s, you know, we’re not selling out. There’s a, there’s a, there’s plenty of shelf space and, and we’re growing. And so if people like what we do and they wanna be a part of this, we’re glad to have them, we’re glad to work with them. And I hope it’ll be for decades. And if not, that’s okay. There’s somebody else out there. There’s such a shortage of financial advisors, a ridiculous shortage and a real bad shortage of good ones. So I’m just
I agree, so I love the philosophy there. What I’d like to learn about more is the tools. So I’m obsessed with tools. How can you turn a concept into something practical that people can wrap their minds around and can implement in their own business? And you are talking on your website, you’re talking about multi-generational planning and financial literacy tools that support people. So give me an example, what is a financial literacy tool and how do these tools work?
One example is just financial literacy courses. We put out an online course that’s free for anyone who would like to take it. And it’s a way to create conversations with your high school or college age or just young adult grown children. Or if you just want a refresher, we’ve created a lot of content that’s available at no cost so that we can make sure that we can help people, even if they either don’t need what we do or can’t afford what we do. And so some of these tools, frankly, are, they’re just that, they’re available, they’re resources that folks can use.Creating tools for financial literacy involves more than courses or resources—it's about cultivating conversations and learning opportunities for different generations. Click To Tweet
Now, some of the other tools that we use are more in line with what we do professionally. So for example, none of the reports or the plans that we provide for people are store-bought. None of them come in a can. They’re not a software program that anyone could run with the right software. All of our deliverables are completely unique. Our hypotheticals are, all the deliverables that we give, whether it’s building for education or whether it’s planning an income strategy, or whether it’s just simply taking inventory and doing the full initial plan, all of it’s uniquely ours.
So when people see it, lawyers or accountants or other advisors see that and they’re like, oh, you work with BFG because it doesn’t look like everyone else’s. You know, when people start with us, they give us a pile of documents. We’ve had folks wheel in two suitcases and dump stuff on a conference table, no joke. They’re like, this is my record. I don’t know what I’ve got here, which is quite an experience, by the way. But at no point am I going to say we’re going to give all of this to a 22 year old kid right out of school, have him or her punch it into a computer and spit out a hundred page report, and there’s your plan. That’s a waste of our time and their money. And I refuse to do it.
And I understand that there’s a benefit to something like that, but I think it’s obsolete the minute you print it. And so I’d rather have literal tools that are working that we can in real time go through and say, well, what if inflation does this? Or what if returns are here? Or what if we do buy that second house? Or what if we pay this mortgage off early? Or what if we have triplets? Or any of the things that happen in real life. And being able to then model those in real time with a client allows them to sort of come up with some of the conclusions themselves. Instead of us saying, well, we’ve analyzed this a hundred different ways and you need to do X. It’s, there is no right answer. There’s 12 ways to do this.
Let’s come up with a solution together that you feel comfortable with. If I feel like you’re making a bad decision, I’m gonna tell you, I mean, tough love is still love, Steve. And if somebody is overspending, I’m gonna tell them, you can’t do this forever. You’re gonna run out of money. Like sometimes you have to give people news they don’t want where, no, you’re not ready to fully retire. You’re gonna need to work part-time or you got to hang in there another seven years. Or like we have to give that that news. If folks then decide to do it anyway, that’s their call. I mean, this is always their plan. So but the tools, the deliverables are unique. And I think that’s important.
So it sounds like it’s an iterative process, so you’ve got these tools, let’s say I’m thinking more like what we used to do with my investment banking client, that they would have this business and we would have this conversation, OK, you know, what products are you planning to launch? What markets are you going to enter? And here are all the variables. Let’s see the economy, what the economy is going to do. And we’ve worked it out together. What is going to be your business plan? We built it together and then they saw it in real time emerging. Is this something like that?
Yes, absolutely. You know, most of the folks we work with are very bright, successful people. Whether they’ve built a significant net worth yet or not, they’re successful people, they’re driven people, and they know that this isn’t what they like to spend their time doing. And I get that. But we do want to make sure that this is a collaborative process, and that we’re not just telling them what to do. No one likes to be told what to do ever. No one likes to be told if you go to the dentist, you know, you don’t want to be told you’re not you need to floss four times a day.
Steve, that’s got to you got to do something different. No one wants to be told that you need to discover that yourself so that you’re like, oh, this is a good idea. Let’s make sure we do that. And so I think there’s a process by which people can have some self-discovery. And some of it is the questions that we ask. We do our initial meeting with folks is not a meeting. It’s an interview. And it’s a two-way interview. We’re interviewing prospective clients. They’re interviewing us. I encourage them to do that. Meet with six firms. Our approach will be different.
It might not be for you, and that’s okay. But it will be different. And we’re going to talk about things, especially with couples, we’re going to talk about things they haven’t talked about together. And it’s an intimate conversation. It’s not therapy. I’m no therapist. But it’s an intimate conversation. And you will uncover amazing things if you just ask about family and about why this house and about what matters in terms of educating their kids.
And in terms of one of them wants to retire on a yacht in the Mediterranean and the other one would just like to work one job instead of two. That’s different dreams. So how do you put it together? I’ve asked people, Steve, how long do you plan to stay in the house? And I’ve had the husband sit there and go forever. It’s a great house. And I’ve had the wife look over and go 12, 18 months. And they look at each other like wait what and I just look at him and say sir you’re you’re gonna need some boxes because you’re not in charge
You have some spies in our house and are you listening in on our conversations?
I think I I sometimes feel like I’m at home too believe me it’s it’s human this is not what we aren’t is we’re not we’re not the algorithm we’re not the robo advisor. We’re not the, no one wants to come in here and talk about alpha and beta and standard deviation and R squared. They don’t. We’re happy to go there with the half a dozen engineers or folks who really want to, we’ll do it. If you want us to demonstrate our technical knowledge, we’re delighted to, but for the most part, that’s not what’s gonna impact your outcome. What’s gonna impact your outcome is the decisions, the behaviors, the discipline. And we learned so much having been through both the tech bubble and the great financial crisis. We learned a lot. And I know we’re going to go through another cycle like that.
No doubt. There will be another one.
Well, it may have started. I don’t know. But yeah, it’s coming.
No, hopefully not. So the other thing I’d like to ask you around it, I mean, obviously people have different visions, that they have different dreams, and you actually have a podcast yourself, which is titled, and I think in the background, it’s the same sentence, Don’t Retire, Graduate. So what’s the concept here with this retirement graduation and what is the message that you are spreading?
So the podcast and the book and workbook and courses and all of the messaging is around the idea that retirement’s not good for you and you shouldn’t do it. And when I say that, people cringe like, what, I have to work forever? And the answer is no. But retirement in its traditional sense is to disappear or retreat. If you look at the word retire, it has tire in it. In fact, if you’re in the UK and you retire for the evening, you’re going to sleep. I don’t know anybody who wants to work their entire lives, build this incredible CV, build this incredible enterprise and then go to sleep.
Like I think to me, retirement is the absence of needing to work, not the absence of working. I think it’s just as important to have purpose and to have a reason to get out of bed every morning when you’re 80 as it is when you’re 40 or you’ll stop getting out of bed every morning. So we try and help people reach financial independence at whether they’re 35 or 85 at the time. It depends on a lot of variables and a lot of behaviors, but we try and help people reach financial independence.
So work is optional, but before they quit, we want to make sure that they have a legitimate plan, a life plan for what they are going to do to spend what could be half of their adult lives. You know, because we’ve done this hundreds of times and I’ve seen people who retire and they don’t thrive. They leave the job and then they don’t thrive and they don’t live very long and their health starts to fail and their relationships start to fail. And it’s the saddest way to end a life well lived. I don’t get it.
I agree. I’ve had clients that want to sell their business. They want to have this yacht and the second home and all that stuff. And they sold the business and suddenly they had nothing. They didn’t have anything to retire to. They retired from their business, but they were kind of in limbo. And suddenly their identity vanished. They were no longer the business owner. They realized that they don’t even know how to drive that boat and they are not even excited about it.
Okay, they showed it to the neighbors and then the interest was gone. And then some of them start another company. They started from scratch because they realized that that’s the only thing they knew how to do. But most of them didn’t have a clear conception of, okay, what is the ideal life for me? What is it that I’m trying to create by selling the business.
Well, and that’s where graduation comes from. That idea of graduating, when you think about graduating from anything, whether it’s high school or college or an MBA program or whatever it is, you’re not leaving something without having some place to go. And it’s bigger, better, more exciting, something you’re looking forward to. People celebrate graduations because they’re about to take on the next exciting adventure. So to me, that’s what retirement should be. It should be what’s our next adventure.
And if you’re financially independent and you don’t want to have something that makes you money, that’s fine. To find something that makes you passionate, it’s got to be more than shuffleboard and daytime TV. It has to be, that’s just no way to live. And so we built this program and the book itself is written like a college curriculum and it splits your financial life into freshmen, sophomore, junior, and senior years. And in the early going, it’s things like, how do I choose the right employee benefits and get off on the right foot and deal with student loans? And then it’s, how do you buy your first home? And what are the considerations when you’re getting married or starting a family?
And then it gets into what are the risk management and tax issues and investment concepts and all these kinds of things to build wealth. And then it’s, now, what are we gonna do? Not only what are we gonna do with our lives and our stuff, but how are we gonna leave the world better than we found it? What’s our legacy gonna be? And I think it’s a very cool journey. People who’ve read it and gone through the workbook, you wind up with your own financial plan, whether you hire an advisor or not. And there’s nothing in this book that you need a financial advisor to do. None of this, I’m not a neurosurgeon.
There’s nothing I do that you can’t do for yourself. But I would say the same thing about a personal trainer. You know, if I don’t have an appointment, I’m not working out. That’s just me. I know this. If I have somebody tell me drop and give me 25, I’m going to do it. And if not, I’m going to have something else to do and I’m going to sit on the couch with a bag of chips. So I’m much better off. And And so having that advocate and that accountability partner and that coach almost matters a lot.
You definitely need the accountability and need someone to hold your feet to the fire. So that’s fascinating. So in terms of your business, what do you feel are your growth drivers? What are the growth drivers for a multifamily planning firm like yours?
The biggest growth driver right now is awareness. People during COVID in the last two years who didn’t take big vacations or who didn’t do a whole lot, a lot of them took the time to get their house in order. And so a lot of people did some financial planning because they had time to do it finally. They finally got around to it. And so the driver now, I think, because that’s not obviously, hopefully forever, but the driver now, I think, is awareness. Awareness that, you know, we’re not going to live forever, but we could live for a very long time.
We don’t want to outlive our money, outlive our usefulness, outlive our joy, and maybe it’s okay to find somebody to help me do this. And so we’re finding companies that want us to come in and do corporate financial wellness programs for them. We run webinars and programs for companies for their employees that then includes, if they choose, one-on-one consultations with their employees. And what’s nice about it is it costs the employee nothing. We’re not employed by their employer, so they can be frank with us. It’s totally confidential.
And the employer knows that if their employees are getting some decent advice and they’re making better financial decisions, they’re gonna be better employees because they’re not sitting there worrying about what am I gonna do with this credit card debt? They’re thinking about their job. So, we’ve got some corporate financial wellness programs. We’ve got the legacy program here, which is where we work with the children, grandchildren, parents and other family members of existing clients.
And we’re growing exponentially. We really can’t hire fast enough. We just redid the office to accommodate more folks. And we now have employees in multiple states because so much of what we do can be remote as well. That Steve, I think we’re gonna double in the next five years or less and we’re gonna need a lot of horses in the stable to do it. And I think we have a repeatable process that people want.
That’s awesome. So if people are looking for this kind of awareness, if they like to sign up for Corporate Financial Wellness or Owner’s Wellness or Legacy Wellness, one of these programs, or they just like to connect with you, learn more about what you do, read your books, where should they go?
I’m going to send folks to two places. One is Brotmanmedia.com, which is where you’ll find the books and the workbooks and the podcasts and all of the media resources and financial literacy information. And then the other is our corporate website, which is BFGFA.com. So that’s BFG Financial Advisors, BFGFA.com. You’ll learn all about us as an organization. We’re very transparent about our process and our people, and there’s a way to connect right on site to schedule a call with one of our principals, myself included, and we’d love to talk to folks. This is fun. I can’t imagine doing anything differently.
That’s awesome. So, well, dear listeners, please check out brotmanmedia.com for the books and the podcast and bfgfa.com if you’d like to talk to someone at the firm or check out the firm. There’s a good website with a lot of details there. So Eric, thank you for coming on the show and sharing your perspective on the multi-generational planning and the awareness and how people should be thinking about their future, accountability coach, and so on. To our listeners, if you enjoyed the show, please don’t forget to sign up for our YouTube channel and give us a review on on apply tools and also stay tuned because next week I’ll have another exciting entrepreneurs joining me on the show. Eric, thank you and have a great week have another exciting entrepreneurs joining me on the show. Eric, thank you and have a great week everyone.
Thank you Steve.
- Pinnacle: Five Principles that Take Your Business to the Top of the Mountain
- Eric’s LinkedIn
- Brotman Consulting Group
- Don’t Retire… Graduate by Eric Brotman
- Don’t Retire…Graduate Podcast
- Buyable: Your Guide to Building a Self-Managing, Fast-Growing, and High-Profit Business
- Complete the Buyability Assessment for Your Business