A PASSION BECOMES A BUSINESS
In 1997, Dr. John Bell began offering financial planning and investment products as a registered representative of a large, national broker/dealer. It was not his first career, nor his second. In fact, Dr. Bell had enjoyed success both as a university professor and as deputy treasurer for finance for the State of Texas before deciding to turn a life-long interest in personal finance into a “little retirement hobby”.
It wasn’t long before this hobby started growing into a real business. Over the years, friends and family had always gravitated to John for financial advice, and so it was a relatively easy transition. However, as he became more familiar with the inner workings of the industry, he became increasingly uncomfortable with the inherent conflicts involved in working as a financial salesperson. How could he truly offer impartial and unbiased advice in a commission-based environment?
In 1999, John decided to sever ties with the broker/dealer and establish his own firm. In order to better align himself with his clients, he became a Registered Investment Advisor, disavowing third-party fees and commissions. Instead, he adopted a relatively new business practice called “fee-only“. This meant that his only compensation would come directly from his clients, similar to the relationships that other professionals, such as attorneys and accountants, have with their clients.
In 2002, John’s son, Colin, became uniquely interested in the business and in moving back to Austin. At the time, he was working in finance for a Fortune 100 company, but was looking for the opportunity to create something of lasting value. John was not optimistic that the business could support two people, but Colin was persistent. It was becoming evident that he had inherited his father’s passion for investing and personal finance. Finally, after much discussion and goal-setting, Colin and John became partners in 2003.
During his first year in the business, Colin earned $18,000. It was a good lesson in humility, entrepreneurship and personal financial management. Instead of going into debt to live the lifestyle he had grown accustomed to, he buckled down and made it work. The next several years were prosperous and the firm grew. Systems were put in place to help serve clients more efficiently and effectively. The goal, however, was never to grow simply for the sake of growth. The number one goal has been, and always will be, to provide each client with first-class service and to advise others in the same way that we would help a best friend or family member.
The financial crisis of 2008-2009 was the first major test for the firm and its investment philosophy. By staying focused on long-term goals and avoiding knee-jerk reactions to what was going on in the moment, Colin and John were able to successfully guide clients through those lean years and the subsequent recovery. A strong belief in an evidence-based investment strategy is the key to remaining disciplined in both good times and bad.
By late 2009, John was ready to think about reducing his responsibilities at work and begin devoting more time to his other passion—traveling the world with his wife, Mary Lou. About the same time, Joel, who was working for a global wealth management firm, came to the realization that his clients would be better served if he were operating as an independent advisor, with no corporate conflicts of interest. After a chance meeting, and realizing that they shared similar values and beliefs about investing and serving clients, Joel joined the firm in 2010.
Many things have changed over the years, but our unwavering commitment to help clients achieve and maintain financial security has remained rock-solid. It’s actually quite simple–experience and relationships matter. If you are interested in exploring a relationship with us, we’ll spend a considerable amount of time and effort to ensure that the relationship will be a good fit for both parties.
Once you become a client, you can be confident that whenever you seek advice, you will be working with an experienced professional who knows your family, knows your situation, and knows how to deliver exceptional results.