Who are you and what business did you start?
Amy Braun-Bostich, Founding Partner, CEO, and Private Wealth Advisor at Braun-Bostich & Associates, a comprehensive financial planning and wealth management firm serving Pittsburgh, PA and beyond.
What’s your backstory and how did you come up with the idea?
I started working for a broker dealer in 1990. I didn’t even know the difference between a stock and a bond at the time. I had been working in the equipment leasing business prior to that, and the Division Vice President for the BD tried to recruit me into the business for about a year. My office and his were in the same building and he would see me leave for home each night through the window of his glass office. When the company I was working for closed the Pittsburgh office and asked me to move to Michigan, I declined and decided to give financial planning a try.
Describe the process of launching the business.
After working in that business for 27 years, I had become increasingly disgruntled at the requirements, lack of a fiduciary path, and the increased paperwork that was required to cover the broker dealers’ risk of litigation, even though it had nothing to do with how I practiced my craft. I also did not like the ‘pay-for-play’ scheme that was employed to allow fund families and other product producers into the system. It was like a light bulb turned on one day. I knew I couldn’t stay, and I realized that I didn’t have to. I could start my own firm and practice the way I wanted to instead, which I did in June of 2017. It was scary and stressful at first, but I realized most new things are, and no matter what, I would be fine and so would the employees that went with me. As it turned out, our retention rate for clients was very high, so all the worrying was unnecessary. Our business has grown by 30% since then.
Since launch, what has worked to attract and retain customers?
Our clients come to us through referral mostly. We are now using digital marketing as well, but the preponderance of new clients is referral-based. We work very hard to treat clients with the utmost respect and service the heck out of them. We make sure that we follow up, that we document, and that we communicate frequently. We use the latest tools and technology to allow them 24/7 access to their accounts and information. We also have documented processes which helped us easily move to a virtual office during the pandemic.
How are you doing today and what does the future look like?
Today, we are doing very well. We have been growing and expanding our offerings. We look for ways to expand slowly. We do not want our current clients to suffer at the expense of expansion and new client acquisition. Our existing clients are our priority. I believe that our educated approach to financial planning and wealth management has created a very competitive path to the future. We are currently exploring a digital-only platform and bringing on new tools every quarter. Most importantly, I can have the type of business that I can be proud of and is free from conflicts of interest.
Through starting the business, have you learned anything particularly helpful or advantageous?
If you work hard and dream big, you can make almost anything happen. I learned that the best achievements require some risk. You must step out of your comfort zone to grow.
What platform/tools do you use for your business?
We use ORION Wealth Management Platform; we also have a variety of cybersecurity software to keep everyone safe. We have 24/7 monitoring, and every day we thwart attacks from hacks in other countries. We use Riskalyze, NaviPlan, Holistiplan, Income Solver, CFS Tax, Microsoft Office, RedTail CRM, Hidden Levers, FP Alpha, and a variety of other platforms to help serve our clients and support our business.
What have been the most influential books, podcasts, or other resources?
I love the books from Bob Veres, Michael Kitces and Mark Tibergien. Early on, “The Wealth Management Index” by Ross Levin was very impactful to me. I like the work of Ed Slott as well. I use Leimberg Services and their software and web-based classes.
Advice for other entrepreneurs who want to get started or are just starting out?
Just do it! But plan very thoroughly. When I left my broker dealer, I had already researched various custodians, software, and compliance solutions. I made sure I did everything by the book and didn’t wing it. Laying out a strategy ahead of time kept me from making large mistakes that could have impeded my success.