At first glance, James “JB” Brewer might seem like your typical advisor, but Brewer really doesn’t fit the typical advisor mold.
For one thing, the Chicagoan proudly
calls himself a financial planner and he
is a CFP, but he holds other designations as well, which he actually uses in
serving his clients rather than just filling
up space on his “About Us” page. Here’s
another difference: Brewer started his
planning career as a registered rep, but
he had a prior career as a marketing exec.
Then there’s how he gets paid.
Brewer launched his RIA — Envision
Wealth Planning — just last year, but
unlike most RIAs, he doesn’t charge
a fee for managing his clients’ assets.
Instead, he charges clients a monthly
subscription fee based on their income,
not assets, made easier by his embrace of
AdvicePay, the app co-founded by advisors Michael Kitces and Alan Moore.
Brewer is a member of the Financial
Planning Association and was scheduled
to speak at the FPA’s national conference
in October with fellow Envision team
member Nandita Das. He also is a past
president of the Association of African
American Financial Advisors (he currently
serves on the AAAFA’s advisory council).
Here’s another difference. Brewer happily counts some high-net-worth clients
in his practice, but his real sweet spot is
among clients of more moderate means.
Another way Brewer doesn’t fit the
mold is in how he communicates with
clients. While he uses the videocon-ferencing app Zoom to chat with his
clients across the nation, he also likes to
make “house calls,” because as a planner
focused on cash flow, he gains insight
into his clients by literally seeing how
they spend their money in their homes.
That’s important, to return to where
we started, because Brewer is first and
foremost a financial planner. The services he provides to individual clients
through Envision Wealth and to retirement plan participants through Envision
401k Advisors don’t cover just the assets
side of a client’s financial ledger, but the
liabilities as well.
But like many advisors, Brewer’s
business model wasn’t apparent from
His journey to financial planning
began when, after losing his position as
VP of sales and marketing at a tech firm,
he and his wife sought the help of several
advisors. “One just didn’t listen to what
we said we wanted,” he recalls, but the
second one not only listened, but told
Brewer he had never had a client who
“took to” the process as much as he did.
He then suggested that Brewer might
want to get into the business himself.
So he joined Ameriprise, but as a “mid-
career changer” who happened to have
an MBA from the Sloan School at MIT.
While he was attracted to the financial
planning side of the business, he also real-
ized that the actual work he was perform-
ing wasn’t real financial planning. So he
switched to a smaller broker-dealer, but
learned that he didn’t fit into that culture,
either, partly because he was “the only
one committed to financial planning.”
While not yet a CFP, Brewer recalls
being frustrated then that people with
a CFP weren’t performing true finan-
cial planning, but rather “something like
The next step on his journey was at
LPL, where he explored how to accom-
plish his goal of helping people while
making money through serving retire-
ment plan participants.
Breaking the Mold
AHEAD OF THE CURVE
Informed by its founder’s experience and goals, Envision Wealth Planning
provides subscription-based financial plans for all.
By James J. Green
The services [JB
Brewer] provides to
individual clients and
to retirement plan
cover just the assets
side of a client’s
financial ledger, but
the liabilities as well.