“I created this company to prove one thing: ‘If you treat people the way they need to be treated, and do the right thing, you will be successful.’ It’s the core model of our business.
“ … and, after years of starting – and mentoring – many lucrative companies, I get to say ‘I proved it correct.’”
I began in this industry as a file clerk in the Insurance department of a retirement company back in 1983. By 1985, I was in charge of managing their 401(k) plans – spending many nights alone with a printer producing statements for the participants.
However, it was five years later that I received a valuable lesson in business management. I was working for a different firm, which hired me to retool their company with a hierarchy ownership style. I saw the effects it had on the staff and decided this was not the way to do business. So in 1995, I convinced my husband to take a mortgage out on our house, and TBA was born. And I am proud to say one of our first employees, Bonnie, is still with us to this day.
Today, I have to do less fighting. Back then, I was a woman starting a retirement benefits company in a turn-of-the-century farmhouse, in a world of mahogany desks, high-rise offices, blue suits and red ties – but then again, fitting in never concerned me. At TBA, we wore jeans to work and stressed employee wellness before Google even came along. Our staff is productive and efficient because we have systematic hiring practices that ensure success. We only hire people who will be successful in any given role, as we know the personality profile and intelligence level of every position we have at the company. When you make the success of your staff and your clients your bottom line, you win. Always.
My role at TBA is Lead Visionary, though I still get a thrill designing plans, leading negotiations, prospecting new clients and mentoring business owners. Retirement planning is all systems and math, and it fits right into what I do well. However, while I had the grand plan and processes to guide TBA, the employees are the ones that genuinely built it – and it’s our service where TBA stands apart from everyone else.
All of our clients come from referral. Our marketing efforts are just more of our business model in action: we treat people well, and word spreads. In addition, we have a referral system in place that brings us clients that fit well within our service model framework. Some people want to get online, press a button, and not have to talk to anybody – that’s not our model. We are hand holders who offer personalized service and customized retirement plans that fit our specific clients’ needs. A recent client was still using a design concept from the 1980s because no one was providing oversight for him. Plans need to be monitored – variables change. We assess those variables and modify plans accordingly.
TBA is in the business of making the light of understanding come on for our clients and our staff. My happiest moments have come when that light goes on, especially when I mentor someone starting a company, and it takes off. Or when my employees get to feel what it’s like to give back to the community, sometimes for the first time in their lives. That’s what it’s all about and why I do what I do – I started TBA to help people.