Happy New Year! As JNBA celebrates our 40th year in business in 2019, it’s a perfect opportunity to reflect about where we’ve been, where we are, and, just as important, where we’re going.
Over the holidays, Richard and I sat down with our firm’s founder, Richard’s mother Judi Brown, to get her perspective on JNBA’s early days – and how far we’ve come over the last four decades.
Here’s a small excerpt from our conversation. We’ll be sharing many more recollections and insights over the next year!
Richard: How do you feel now, when you come into the office and talk to the staff? How does that make you feel about a company that’s 40 years old this year? And knowing that you had started it, and started with the beliefs that you had, and where we are today?
Judi: It makes me want to stand up and yell, “We did it!”
Kim: We always talk about the fact that you had a vision for being able to sit on the same side of the table as the client and really put them first, versus having to pick and choose funds that would pay you more or pay you less as a financial advisor. And that’s really where you pioneered what we called, then, a fee-based model. And obviously, over time, JNBA has transitioned to a fee-only model, which is the next generation of that.
Richard: I was equally impressed at how important it was for you to understand that being independent was the way to go.
Judi: I had come to the conclusion that it was the only way in which I would be happy in this business. And if people were going to give me their money to watch out for, and depend on me to do that, then I had to do it with a clean slate. My clean slate. And that is, “There’s so much work to be done, there’s so much I can do for you, and this is the way we’re going do it together as a team.” And I think that it was the only way I felt I could go.
Kim: And, of course, now the evolution of that model is a very, very high-intensity service model. I think about the evolution of our team. One of the things that Richard and I talk a lot about is building a multi-generational team that could take care of the families that we serve at every level, from parents to children to grandchildren. And that, for me I think, has been probably the greatest reward in building JNBA from where we started together. We’ve been incredibly blessed to put together a strong team of multi-generational professionals that I am really proud to work side by side every day. I know that they are delivering the highest level of service. Since we started tracking our client retention in 2001, it’s been at or above 97 percent.
Judi: Retention has always been an interesting thing, because we build to stay. And to be part of their lives. And to be there for the good and for the bad, and the crossroads in life. And you have taken that and you made it fly. As I look back on what we’ve done, and what you two have done… It’s wonderful, as a mother, to see your children buy-in, if you will, to something that you thought was pretty cool, and for them to take it and build it for their generation, that’s deeply gratifying to me and I know especially to clients who have been here for decades.
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