You may be wondering, “What?! Financial advisors with the chutzpah to compare themselves to historic luminaries of American business? Who do these guys think they’re kidding?!”
Well… We’ll admit it’s an aspirational comparison! For sure we wouldn’t pretend to be innovators on the scale of Steve Jobs and Henry Ford. However, in four key areas we find them to be important role models for us in our work…
1) Having an uncompromising drive for quality.
For Jobs, it meant visiting and revisiting even the smallest of design details until he personally was totally satisfied. For Ford, quality came from working relentlessly on every aspect of the production process, optimizing again and again, as well as innovating with assembly lines, alloys, and elsewhere.
For us, quality means providing the highest quality advisors—John and I, with our advanced education, training, and experience—and applying our skills only for a modest number of clients per advisor, a fraction of industry averages.
Maintaining a limited number of clients per advisor, together with our Thoughtful Wealth Management approach, is our basic math for delivering a superior service. There is no “work around.” Having ample time to focus on every client offers a path to excellence better than any other.
2) Seeing beyond clients’ requests to their true needs.
Jobs was well known for steering product details absent any consumer focus groups. Henry Ford would famously quip that if he gave customers what they wanted, it would have been a faster horse.
How does this principal apply to Blair Hall Advisors? In myriad ways, but nowhere more importantly than in clients’ investment portfolio design. For example, we appreciate that clients mostly don’t know how much portfolio risk they should take on, and that their risk “tolerance” is usually just a guesstimate. So, we typically perform rigorous financial modeling to help arrive at an optimal portfolio mix—even though clients new to our firm rarely think to ask us for this. Few advisors or firms have the know-how and zeal to equal our approach.
3) Frank honesty.
Both Jobs and Ford were known for telling it like it is. Both men had an important reputation for being fact-based and straightforward.
As for us: Well, both John and I were born and raised in New York City. And one of the key reasons that each of us became an advisor was to add value for people while always being open with our views—like true New Yorkers, warm yet direct.
4) Staying focused rather than trying to be all things to all people.
Jobs directed Apple to build outstanding products, but usually with a limited number of customer choices. Henry Ford was famous for offering his Model-T “in any color, so long as it’s black.”
For us, as a small independent private firm, we also appreciate that it would be a mistake to try to be all things to all people. We are focused on working with the highly accomplished, highly educated clients who seem to enjoy our intellect and appreciate that we are ready and enthusiastic to explain the nuances of our work.
So, no, we’re not Steve Jobs. We’re not Henry Ford. But we have equally lofty aspirations for our firm’s quality and value as they did for theirs, and we work hard to translate those aspirations into a discernibly superior service.
Yours sincerely, Tom Gerson - Managing Partner