He became a chartered retirement planning counselor, but was frustrated by many
plan sponsors’ lack of interest in building
plans that would primarily benefit participants. There was another issue keeping
many plan participants from successfully
planning for their retirement, Brewer realized: too many of them held significant
student loan debt, or were struggling with
their finances after a divorce.
But dealing with these “non-asset”
financial issues didn’t fit well into LPL’s
business model for reps, Brewer says, while
becoming a pure RIA, with the help of new
tech tools and the right partners (see sidebar), would allow him to accomplish his
goal of helping people while making money.
So how does charging clients based on
their income (Envision’s fees are clearly
spelled out on its website) allow the RIA
firm to make money? Brewer says it allows
him to help more people at various stages
in their life, not just when they’ve accumulated enough assets to meet many other
advisors’ minimums. He calls his model a
subscription-based life planning firm.
“My ADV says I charge people up to
2% of their income for financial planning” on a sliding scale, he says, while
if they come for a specific issue, such as
divorces, he charges by the hour.
“When will a woman with $150,000
in income but with $250,000 in student
debt ever accumulate enough assets” to
make her a typical AUM client, he asks.
What she can do is pay him a relatively
small monthly amount to help her retire
that debt and save for retirement through
good financial planning practices, with
Brewer as her accountability partner.
Getting a handle on that debt also
can provide clients with the sense that
they’re gaining control of their financial
lives, which Brewer says can move them
past their “regret timeline” of not saving
enough for retirement.
Not a bad way to help people while
James J. Green, a former editor of this magazine,
is editor of Jamie Green Reports, an advisor-focused writing, editing and shepherding service.
He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
About the Advisor
The Advisor: James “JB” Brewer
The Position: Founder and CEO
The Firm: Envision Wealth Planning,
The Designations: CFP, Certified
Divorce Financial Analyst (CDFA),
AIF, College Funding and Student
Loan Advisor (CFSLA), Chartered
Retirement Planning Counselor (CRPC)
Precise FP, which Brewer calls the
“ultimate data repository” to securely
house client data
MoneyGuide Pro for CRM purposes,
but also for its Discovery Lab for clients, “who’ve told me they learned so
much about themselves” from using it.
Retire Ready, for helping financial
planning clients and retirement plan
participants better save for retirement
by using its “model pay check” feature.
Loring Ward, iSectors for investment
While not formal partnerships, these are
the experts Brewer calls on for help on an
Karen Sparks for divorce financial
Fred Amrein, founder of Amrein
Financial and College Affordability
LLC, “the most knowledgeable person
I’ve ever met” on student loan debt
Collegiate Funding Solutions.
Laurence Kotlikoff, professor of economics, Boston University.