Retirement Planning

Changing an Industry's Culture Teamwork, Diversity, Empowerment

Research shows that diverse workforces deliver greater productivity and profitability. “Companies in the top-quartile for gender diversity on executive teams were 21% more likely to outperform on profitability,” reported the U.S. House Committee on Financial Services in February 2020.

No doubt, the financial services sector could use some cultural change; and sometimes one person can help move the needle. Like Jessica Rebmann, CFP™, who founded Turquoise Wealth Management, based in Lafayette, Indiana, in 2018. She has long contended that the financial services industry has been in dire need of a cultural shift – so she did something about it.

From her vantage point, such a cultural change needs to be rooted in teamwork and diversity, focused on employees’ well-being and success, and emphasize that employees know they are valued.

“Ours is an old industry and the power is centered in a small demographic and tradition,” Rebmann told Advisors Magazine in a recent interview. “Work really hard, survive the whack-a-mole years, and when you make it, treat others the same. An older advisor actually told me my second year in the business, ‘just survive!’ That was his advice, and I’m not saying he was wrong, but I do believe that is sad.”

Rebmann opted for happy at her firm, which is focused on teamwork and community, not internal competition and individualism.

JR 667x500“We empower and encourage each other as female minorities in the industry,” she said.

Such empowerment and encouragement are often telegraphed to clients. And that means clients are also better off when their advisors aren’t working alone, when their advisors feel supported and valued by their company, and when their advisors feel their colleagues have their back.

“Whether you can see it from the outside or not, it has to make a difference to the long-term client experience,” Rebmann added.

The client experience at Turquoise Wealth Management is similar to what’s happening in healthcare nowadays, to use one of Rebmann’s favorite analogies.

“Physicians are under so much pressure from large insurance and medical systems to scale and see so many patients…they need to solve the problem, prescribe services and move on to the next room,” she explained. “We’re more like a concierge physician service who doesn’t have to see 100 patients a day, so they can take the time to spend half a day on a full health review, run some tests, take blood work, have conversations on health history and physical goals, and really get to know the baseline of a new patient.”

Once that baseline is built, Turquoise can use its expertise and personal knowledge of a client to not only prescribe solutions to current needs, but to proactively create good financial health. And financial health baselines are all unique.

“Sometimes clients will want to know how they stack up to other clients, or ‘normal’, and I tell them, ‘there is no normal, there is only you,’” Rebmann said.

A case in point is retirement planning. While the firm might use the same checklist and process for each client, the actual planning and solution set is customized.

Jessica quote
“Everyone comes in with different goals and values around what happiness and success look like, and they have different assets not just in terms of investments and money, but in terms of comfort with risk, knowledge of investing principles, healthcare benefits, insurance, income streams, etc.” Rebmann stressed, “We get to know our clients deeply. What drives them, what decisions they are likely to make given their personal value system.”

With Americans living longer, a self-insurance cost to long-term care is something Rebmann always inputs into a financial plan. In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the average life expectancy in the U.S. is 78.6 years old, with women living 4.9 years longer than men.

“We start with the average stay at the average age and just plan for that happening,” she explained. “So the baseline plan, unless there is already insurance, is that they are going to spend money on that down the road. If they don’t end up needing money for care, great! More money for the kids.”

While some clients choose to insure that risk, some don’t – but Turquoise Wealth Management encourages transferring the risk via insurance because it could happen anytime, and at the least, there’s a plan in place.

JR 300x400As for online financial planning and investing called robo-advisors and app-based trading platforms, Rebmann recognizes that they are innovative and challenge the status quo – a good thing. Another positive: they can help create some healthy financial habits for those who do not have the assets or income to afford an experienced advisor. But there are also some negatives.

“Many of these platforms do not have a fiduciary duty, and are selling something, even if it is just your information,” she cautioned. “Further, free trading platforms can encourage risky investing behavior…It may be fine for play money, but when you have your life savings to invest, the cheapest platform becomes less of a priority -- and best or low risk, or great value becomes of key importance.”

Also vital is giving clients personal reassurance, especially during times of crisis. Rebmann is very grateful she was able to start Turquoise Wealth Management well before the COVID-19 pandemic. As an independent advisor, she was able to record and share video messages to help collectively reassure clients when she couldn’t immediately meet with them all.

For more information about Turquoise Wealth Management, please visit: turquoisewm.com

 

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