When Tom Roberts constructed the business model for his financial consulting company, A New Approach Financial Planning, he decided to look beyond what would make him the most money and, instead, thought about how he would like to be treated as a customer.
“I like to pay only for what I need, when I need it,” says Roberts. “The primary goal was to make my business method as efficient as possible so that people can get exactly what they need at the lowest cost.”
Roberts named his company A New Approach, because he says most financial consultants don’t operate the same way he does. Unlike most others in his field, Roberts doesn’t sell investments or make a commission from his services. He also charges his clients according to an hourly fee or a project fee, so that his clients can get the information they need as quickly as possible.
Roberts estimates that roughly 1% of financial consultants work with this type of model, which allows middle-income clients who may have little or no investments to get advice on how to save for things like college, a home or retirement.
“I spend a lot of time talking to my clients about their goals, not just the numbers,” says Roberts. “I get to know them as a person and not just what’s in their bank account.”
Roberts started the company in 2006 when he moved from Atlanta to Sarasota. He had worked at a company that built power-plant equipment for 28 years while doing financial planning on the side.
“I always knew I wanted to move in this direction, it was just a matter of how and when,” says Roberts.
When he moved to Sarasota with his family, he saw the perfect opportunity to embark on a new career path.
Roberts now provides financial counseling for clients throughout the Sarasota area. He has locations in downtown Sarasota and Lakewood Ranch, but he meets with many of his clients right in their own home.
“I get to know my clients and their families and that’s part of what makes my job so rewarding,” says Roberts. “It’s about seeing people get their questions answered so they can move on and reach their goals.”
AT A GLANCE
Address: 1990 Main St., Suite 750, Sarasota
Start date: April 2006
Number of employees when started: One
Number of employees now: One
Advice: Put together a written, solid business plan.
Biggest challenge: Getting known in the area when I first moved here.
Where do you see your business a year from now? I plan on expanding and bringing on another employee.