Bryan Beatty, CFP®, AIF®, has been named one of Financial Times Top 400 Financial Advisers. The honor “provides a snapshot of the best professionals at traditional US broker-dealers.”
Beatty, a partner with Egan, Berger, & Weiner, LLC (EBW), is based in Vienna, Virginia and has nearly 30 years of experience in the financial industry. He is a graduate of the University of Maryland.
He was one of 12 financial advisers in the state of Virginia honored with this accolade.
Beatty, who is a former president of the Finance, Banking and Investment Society, also received the Chairman’s Circle 2018 honor from Voya.
How and why did you get into the business?
Bryan: I got into the business right out of college, mostly because I was studying finance with a concentration in investments. I took part in an investment challenge during college, creating a fictitious portfolio to invest for a certain period. Over the four year period, I kept finishing in the top one percent and I thought “Maybe I have a knack for this!”. This experience pushed me towards managing money for my career.
I started working in the business right after college in 1992. I joined a small independent broker dealer, where I had a limited number of products available to me. Both at this firm and at an insurance company I later joined, I kept coming back to wanting to do what is right for the client, even if it is not selling insurance. I knew I needed to take a different direction.
A turning point came when I attained a Certified Financial PlannerTM certification in 2003. This really put me down a new path of going independent and establishing my own financial planning firm. I wanted to find the right way to run a business that had an integrated approach to planning. In 2004, I folded my firm into Egan, Berger & Weiner, which has turned out really well.
What are the 2-3 keys to your success and growth?
Bryan: Getting my CFP® certification was the number one most important decision of my career. It provided clarity around what comprehensive financial planning looks like and a framework for how everything in the planning process should start.
The second major turning point was joining Egan, Berger & Weiner. At the time I joined, there were only three principals and I took on 25% of the firm expenses before making any money. Despite the risk, I joined because we each brought complementary skills to the partnership. I had a management background, while the team at Egan, Berger & Weiner had marketing and leads. I brought greater management and sales structure and helped grow our opportunities much faster than any of us expected. Likewise, the firm has provided me with greater marketing and prospecting support that I could not have realized on my own.
What is your approach to financial planning?
Bryan: Everything stems from a financial plan. First, we determine where a client is on a macro level before making any sort of recommendations. We do not go into a meeting with any pre-conceived notions that everyone should have – for example - life insurance, long term care or any of the other hooks advisors use to gain clients. We take an approach that clients work with us for the financial plan and the advice that comes out of that plan. It is a very different angle from how I came into the business, which focused on the product or solution.
Clients may come in thinking they simply need a single solution to a problem. This is often true, but planning reveals additional or different problems that need solving. If you are selling the solution before the problems have been exposed, it is a backwards approach. We always start with the macro plan, after which we get to the specific products and solutions in a more natural and comfortable progression.
What kind of support do you get at Egan, Berger & Weiner and how has that helped you?
Bryan: Our partnership allows each of us to concentrate on different roles. When you are on your own, you have to wear every hat – you’re the business owner, financial advisor and administrator all at once. When you get into a team, you can hire people to do associate planner work and specialize in areas such as insurance, college planning, etc.
Succession planning is another key benefit of joining the team. The firm owns the entire book of business, so we have ingrained succession planning in place to help both advisors and clients. We have succeeded two advisors businesses from the firm, and retained 99% of the clients, which is a great win for all.
Today, we have 14 employees. This includes three owners and six advisors. There is an opportunity for ownership of the company if advisors do well, which is a great incentive to grow and build loyalty.
How do you use marketing to support your business growth?
Bryan: We grew our business through educational seminars. Through an arrangement with the adult education system in Fairfax County, we conducted seminars, which was a great source of marketing and prospecting. While this arrangement has ended, we continue to offer 90 minute seminars in our office, although less regularly as attendance numbers have dropped off. Recently, we started teaching retirement and mid-career workshops. Because we have a good reputation for our seminars, we were referred for this opportunity. Being in the right place at right time with the right experience and reputation paid off!
The Financial Times 400 is intended to provide a snapshot of the best financial advisers for the investors who use them — such as FT readers. We assess advisers based on what investors care about, and we use a quantifiable, objective methodology.
The Financial Times and Ignites Research, the FT’s sister company, contacted the largest US brokerages in autumn 2017 to obtain practice information and data for their top advisers across the US. This resulted in verified data on assets under management instead of relying on advisers’ self-reported figures.
We asked for information on advisers with more than 10 years’ experience and who had more than $300m in assets under management. Such minimum criteria filtered out most advisers. The FT then invited qualifying advisers out of this group — a list that totaled about 880 — to complete a questionnaire that gave us more information about their practices.
We added that information to our own research on the candidates, including data from regulatory filings. The formula the FT uses to grade advisers is based on six broad factors and calculates a numeric score for each adviser. The factors are:
- Assets under management can signal experience managing money and client trust.
- AUM growth rate (we look at both one-year and two-year growth rates) can be taken as a proxy for performance, asset retention and ability to generate new business.
- Years of experience indicate experience managing assets in different economic and interest-rate environments.
- Compliance record provides evidence of past client disputes. A string of complaints could signal problems.
- Industry certifications (CFA, CFP etc) demonstrate technical and industry knowledge and obtaining these designations shows a professional commitment to investment skills.
- Online accessibility illustrates commitment to providing investors with easy access and transparent contact information.
Assets under management accounted for an average of 70 per cent of each adviser’s score. AUM growth rate accounted for an average of 17 per cent.
Additionally, the FT places a cap on the number of advisers from any one state that roughly corresponds to the distribution of millionaires across the US.
We present the FT 400 as an elite group, not a competitive ranking. We acknowledge that ranking the industry’s top advisers from one to 400 would be a futile exercise, since each takes different approaches to their practice and has different specializations. The research was conducted on behalf of the Financial Times by Ignites Research, a Financial Times sister publication