The Bridgers Group, Merrill Lynch - Small Business of the Month May 2015

May 18th, 2015

Success starts with preparedness of business

Company helps families plan for, reach their financial goals

Paul Bridgers is in his 19th year as a financial advisor with Merrill Lynch. Prior to this career, he was a teacher Matthew Mossburg, financial advisor; David Bridgers, seasonal client associate; Paul Bridgers, financial advisor and resident director; and Tina Avelar, client associate and resident director’s assistant of The Bridgers Group Merrill Lynch.and a swimming coach at the public high school and university levels.

Matthew Mossburg is in his third year as a financial advisor at Merrill Lynch and has been in the financial services industry since 2008.

Tina Avelar has been a client associate with Merrill Lynch for 28 years. She is also the resident director’s assistant.

The Bridgers Group Merrill Lynch mission statement says, “To guide families through the maze of financial noise to successful completion of their financial goals. To make the lives of our clients easier and more fulfilling by freeing up their time to focus on family and their life passions, while we focus on a financial plan that get them to their personal goals.”

When asked what inspired Bridgers to go into business, he thought of helping people prepare for the next chapter of their financial lives while living the current chapter, inspired him.

“People are less prepared for retirement than they ever have been and our team is dedicated to making a difference,” Bridgers said.

What is unique about the business is that it deals with the intersection of emotions and reality when it comes to money and goals. With a strong planning approach, it models to potential outcomes of different decisions before they are made. This gives clients the ability to see the potential consequences of decisions and non-decisions before they go down the path.

The purpose of this is to provide every client with a customized financial plan, a customized tactical investment strategy, and coaching along their financial journey to minimize the effect of financial noise on their goal focus.

In five years, the goal is to be comprehensively serving double the number of families it currently serve as it navigates the increasingly confusing realm of financial life. The staff wants to be the financial ally to those families.

To stay ahead of competitors, The Bridgers Group Merrill Lynch increased the capacity of its team, allowing the company to grow while maintaining exemplary service.

“Our team interacts like a family and we are very aware of what’s going on in each others’ lives,” Mossburg said. “As we support each other, we bring that awareness to the table for our clients. We are also very aware of news and events that impact our clients financially, and we act proactively to take advantage of the opportunities that those events provide. We also have a fiduciarybased practice – we have our client’s best interests at the forefront in everything we do.”

Like every business, The Bridgers Group Merrill Lynch has had to overcome obstacles, such as the financial crisis of 2007-09. Many advisors left the profession during this time. People’s emotions led to bad decisions and business growth was very difficult.
“We have grown 40 percent as a business since the end of 2008, but it was a long and difficult road,” Bridgers said.

When it comes to giving new businesses advice, Mossburg said, “Business owners do not live by the 40-hour work week. Work long and hard, but plan your efforts toward a goal. Get away on a personal retreat once a quarter to evaluate your progress and your passion for life and business. Invest in people – the people you work with and the people you serve. Your attitude toward people will eventually define your success. Give well-thought-out direction, and admit your mistakes. But don’t let those mistakes define you. Very important – find a mentor to guide you and help you self-evaluate.”

The Bridgers Group Merrill Lynch staff thinks it’s important for people to know there is no substitute for discipline and facts when preparing for a financial future. To them it is important that people use a dedicated
team to prepare them for college costs, retirement and beyond.

“Stewardship, philanthropy and legacy come through careful guidance, discipline and planning. The government does not have the means to take care of you after your career is over – you must rely on yourself. The firm you work with financially, and the team you work with, makes a difference,” Bridgers said.

Bridgers said the company hopes to become the vital financial ally for more families, and to continue to build capacity through new hires so it can increase the number of families it guides toward the successful completion of their financial goals.

“We want to continue making a difference in people’s lives, and enable them to assist the college careers of their children, travel, and retire to pursue their passions in the next chapter of their lives,” Bridgers said.