- Amy Barnes started Firebrand Wealth Management to offer a tailored financial advisory experience to women.
- Digital onboarding cut setup time down from weeks to minutes, helping her maintain client excitement and business momentum.
- Highly efficient trading and rebalancing features give Amy more time to invest in relationships without having to differentiate her service model based on client AUM.
- Consolidating portfolio management, reporting, billing, and custody into a single solution saves Firebrand approximately $15,000 per year.
“Wanting to work with women, and to create a positive working environment for women, was apparently a controversial idea.”
Amy Barnes launched Firebrand Wealth Management in 2018, perfectly timing her initial stab at entrepreneurship with the arrival of her second child (because running a business shouldn’t be too easy).
For years, Amy had considered becoming an RIA. “You see a lot of bad practices over the course of two decades – and when advocating for women, I heard ‘no’ a lot. All of a sudden, there I was, pregnant and in my early 40s, looking for a new job, thinking, ‘if not now, when?’”
The name “Firebrand” is an ode to the women she wants to serve – now, and in the decades to come.
Finding the right custodian
After a brief stint on the Robust Wealth platform (which promised a digital onboarding among other time saving features), Amy elected to moved her clients’ assets to TD Ameritrade. When the Schwab merger was announced, she considered shopping around – and even looked at Altruist – but ultimately deciding to wait and see.
“I reviewed Altruist in 2019 – back then, the product was a little bare-bones. Four years later, when the SSG acquisition was announced, I figured it was time to take a second look. I’m so glad I did.”
Since taking that second look, Amy has transferred the majority of her clients to Altruist.
“With Altruist, we don’t lose any momentum during the onboarding process.”
For Amy’s clientele, the decision to hire a financial advisor often comes after long and careful consideration. Ultimately making the choice to work with Amy represents an exciting and impactful moment in their financial journey. Before Altruist, it could take 3-4 weeks before an account was open and funded. Those delays, due to error-prone, paper-based administrative work, would dampen the excitement of her tech-savvy client base.
Now, instead of 3-4 weeks, accounts are open in minutes.
“I got a very busy client on the phone and we opened 3 accounts, initiated 3 ACATs, and approved everything, all less than 10 minutes, all online.”
Scalable portfolio management tools give her more time to invest in client relationships.
Altruist provides Amy with a significantly more efficient way to serve her clients, most of whom are working tech professionals with compensation structures that include substantial stock allocations.
“When the client receives a large cash influx, we both know that the funds will be automatically invested. This saves time and reduces cash drag, which is a big help from a compliance standpoint.”
Amy offers clients a base model portfolio that is composed primarily of iShares ETFs (where she had previously been a wholesaler), with variations that incorporate dividend, bond, and ESG preferences.
“The time savings on the rebalancer are phenomenal. If I make a change to a model, it’s 4-8 clicks to rebalance all accounts associated with those models. This used to be an entire Monday. Now I can reinvest that time into the work that my clients really value.”
Challenging the 80/20 rule
Traditionally, RIA economics have dictated that advisors spend 80% of their time with 20% of their clients. Because Firebrand can onboard clients and absorb large transactions so efficiently, two things are now true:
- Amy has more time to spend with higher AUM clients
- She has the flexibility to allocate time more evenly across her client base
Amy’s clients – mostly women in their 40s and 50s – regularly introduce her to their parents and children.
“We’re able to work with younger generations who are earlier in their journey without sacrificing profit. This sets up a legacy of revenue. If you don’t have this, your RIA dies with your clients.”
At Altruist, we are proud to support firms like Firebrand.
Amy’s story and her firm’s success are powerful indicators of what happens when ambitious RIAs have the technology and service they need to bring great financial advice to more people.
"It feels like my firm matters to you. There is so much enthusiasm and excitement and support. You won't get that from Schwab. To work with a firm that really values your business and the work you are doing is empowering."
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This testimonial was given by a current client or investor. Neither Altruist nor its affiliates paid for this testimonial, but we do earn revenue from advisors and on assets in accounts. This testimonial may not represent the experience of others and it is not a guarantee of results.