This month marked the 10th anniversary of Birch Investment Management.
Facts About Birch
Birch is a fee-only financial advisory firm that specializes in helping busy families achieve and maintain financial independence.
- We serve about 50 ongoing clients. Our goal is to be clear on the kind of people we work best with and then serve them well. There are a limited number of seats on the bus and we want to fill them with clients who will get the most value from our expertise and offerings.
- We serve clients nationwide. Birch Investments is headquartered in Brookings, South Dakota. We have a good client base here but also work with clients virtually across the country. We have a virtual assistant in Rhode Island. You deserve a financial advisor that is best for you - not just one within a 10 mile radius of where you live.
- We are fee-only. Our only compensation comes directly from our clients. We collect no commissions or other sales incentives. We charge a percentage of the assets we manage for clients. In some cases we offer one time financial planning for a fee.
- We are entirely independent. We deliver independent advice to our clients. No corporate parent with sales goals. Client assets are held at TD Ameritrade, an independent custodian we have selected.
- We are a fiduciary. We are legally obligated to act in your best interest. It's surprising but many advisors don't need to act in your best interest. They can steer you towards products that generate a higher commission if it's suitable. That's garbage. Would you tolerate a medical professional who bases their treatment plan on how they can get paid more?
- We give back. We are a member of 1% for the Planet. This membership requires us to give one percent of all revenue (not profit) to environmental causes. We further give monthly to a few social justice causes we believe in.
I'm Grateful For...
- My family. My wife and kids have been my strongest support through thick and thin of building this business. Starting a company from scratch with no clients and no revenue was a leap of faith for them. However this path has allowed me the flexibility to be the chief chauffeur, keeper of the kids schedules, and given me the ability to be home on their sick days. That time with my kids in their formative years made it all worthwhile for me.
- Our clients. I get to work with some amazing people. Being self-employed has given me the ability to be selective with who I work with. And to me that has been nice people who care about their families and communities. I've gotten to help people buy homes, plan for college, retire, and cope with life transitions. I've celebrated and mourned with my clients. It's a privilege to serve such an amazing group of people.
- XYPN. This community of advisors has been a valuable resource to learn and grow with. From client questions to operational challenges they have been my go to resource.
- Level Best. I spent over a half a year working with Charesse Spiller at Level Best to build processes that made my business much more efficient. By helping me define my service model and then automate as much as possible, they gave me the opportunity to scale without adding hours to the workweek.
- Nifty Advisor Support. Michelle Wong has created an invaluable service serving financial advisors virtually through her company Nifty Advisor Support. She has paired me with an amazing virtual assistant in Kei Lincoln. Kei has already taken so many tasks off my plate and I can't wait to grow with her in 2022.
- Improve Communication. I geek out on financial planning topics. I love studying investments. In 2003 I earned the Chartered Financial Analyst® designation, the hardest exam to pass in the financial industry. Clients don't always like to hear the nitty gritty details. So I'm looking to take courses on how to translate my technical jargon into language that my clients can appreciate and understand.
- Evaluate Investment Custodians. TD Ameritrade has been purchased by Charles Schwab. The transition for clients is still likely 18 to 36 months out. I've loved working with TDA. It's a good time to step back and ensure my clients have the best custodian for their funds.
- Updated Website. I've gone the DIY route with my website for years. I am in the early stages of getting more professional help both on the back end and in the messaging on the site. This will enable our ideal clients find and learn about our services easier and existing clients will have access to better education online.
- Enjoy the Present. I've watched clients plan my entire career. The past few years some of them have had their dreams for retirement derailed from illness and tragedy. Since the pandemic started I've spent far too many evenings and weekends doing busy work for Birch. My kids are 16, 15 and 9. I only get 18 summers to spend with them. I need to take the time to put the computer down and focus on creating memories with the most treasured people in my life.
I can't wait to see what the next decade brings for Birch and our clients.