Trudy Haussmann, Haussmann Financial Inc.
Firm: Securities America
City: Newport Beach, Calif.
AUM: $465 million
Number of Clients: 1,500
Trudy Haussmann got no respect during her first year as an independent financial advisor. “I was 25 and blonde,” she recalls. “I got a lot of dinner invites, but not a lot of business.” She spent most of her time at Orange County, Calif., Chamber of Commerce meetings networking with other professionals. In 1986, while still a student at UCLA, Haussmann worked as a full-time paraplanner for Lewis Wollensky, an advisor with another independent broker/dealer. “She had the desire, ability and intelligence to learn what the business was all about,” Wollensky says.
In 1991, she decided to try the business on her own; it was a rough start. Haussmann was forced to live on her savings, as well as a $20,000-or-so loan from her parents. “I was working out of my bedroom; it was a slow build for the business,” she says.
The following year the networking started to pay off, and she was out of her bedroom and into a more professional space.
But it wasn't until the end of 1994 that Haussmann got a major lift. Securities America's top advisor called Haussmann to say he was looking to partner up with a southern California advisor to lead retirement workshops for employees of Pacific Bell, a company with which his firm had worked closely. After meeting with him and getting trained in the process and marketing involved in running the workshops, Haussmann was granted exclusive rights to lead the Pacific Bell retirement seminars in her region while handing over 20 percent of her revenues to the advisor that trained her. “The business really broke loose in 1994,” she says. The next year, the firm brought in $10 million in new assets and $485,000 in revenue compared with $109,000 the year before.
Today, Haussmann Financial employs three other producing advisors and five support people who help manage $465 million in assets. There are no asset minimums and her average client is preparing to retire with about $400,000. Most clients are blue-collar workers or retirees with a significant number of them employed by companies such as Honda, Boeing and AT&T. Haussmann says that makes her job easier since many clients end up having similar benefits, 401(k)s and pension plans. “It allows us to have a lot of automation,” she says.
Haussmann has come a long way since her bedroom-office days. In addition to retirement planning, the firm offers life insurance, tax and estate planning and college funding advice. The firm will likely hire another rep and additional support staff to stay on top of the client demands and the growing client base. “We have to turn away new clients sometimes. As long as that keeps happening, we'll keep growing,” she says.
As for the much-coveted high-net-worth cohort, Haussmann says she doesn't aim for them. “The clients we target are more appreciative and loyal because they are not solicited by everyone,” she says. “They're thankful for the advice and high degree of attention we give them.”