We at Relevant Founders had a frank conversation with Pam Krueger – CEO and founder of Wealthramp – a fintech company that connects people to the best-in-class fee-only advisors that help them achieve financial well-being. Pam is the creator and co-host of the MoneyTrack on PBS stations and the Friends Talk Money podcast. She also received the 2021 NAPFAs Special Achievement award for educating the public about the value of fee-only financial advice.
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The idea of Wealthramp was established during the 2008 financial meltdown when viewers of MoneyTrack deluged Pam Krueger with requests to find a trustworthy financial advisor. Even early on in her career, in a Wall Street brand name brokerage firm, Pam noticed that consumers lacked basic knowledge about financial planning and how financial advisors make their money.
“Eventually, I decided to quit that perverse business model. I wanted to inform people about how this business works. Although this role doesn’t require licenses like it would if you were a doctor or a lawyer, I would argue that your savings and financial well-being are just as important as your physical, mental, and legal well-being.”
“I knew there existed different types of advisors who are independent and held to a higher fiduciary standard. These guys are not attached to sales; they don’t sell anything but work directly for their clients and are compensated only by them.
Although 500,000 people in the United States self-identify as financial consultants, they all look like trees in the forest, and it’s hard to tell them apart. I realized that it would be easier for me to find them. And so, I decided to create Wealthramp.
I spent almost three years creating a base of consultants. I personally identified them, checked their backgrounds, and interviewed them. Everybody thought I was nuts! Three years!
It seems crazy, but it’s also my interest. If you’re the advisor and you’re working with a client to whom I’ve introduced you, then I will get a piece of your revenue for as long as that client remains your client. Perhaps, the next step will be a paid vet of advisors, at the request of the consumer”
“The past year has been painful but instructive. We made some mistakes, like spending too much time on the development side. But we needed to build relationships with employers and companies so that they would refer their employees to Wealthramp. We saw how quickly our growth rate in revenues and traffic dropped when we took our eye off the ball.
If you’d asked me, did I feel like I could throw in the towel at some point this past year? I would say that I thought about it.
A lesson that I already knew – you have to endeavor to persevere. And that, those challenging moments won’t last forever. You have to find a way to accept that there will be challenges that will tempt you and taunt you to become fearful. And it can be if you allow it to be scary. If you let fear as an emotion come in, it will be reflected in your decision-making.”
“I think that people will continue to become more interested in being educated. They are curious about what investment opportunities can provide them in 10 years. Younger investors will not settle for their parent’s and grandparents’ advisors. My mission is to help people realize that anyone at any age or income level can access high-quality financial planning — you don’t have to be wealthy.
When the stock market goes down, diversification wins all battles if you’re truly diversified. And it would help you because that’s proven to be the engine of growth, to stay ahead of inflation. You can’t keep your money in cash; you must invest it or be prepared to lose it.
We’re going to see that younger people will adopt crypto investments as part of their portfolios. Not a huge amount, probably no more than 5%. You can’t go hog wild and put it all in crypto, or else you’re going to go on a wild volatility ride.”
We love the CEO advice section as it’s where our guests share knowledge and inspiration that can contribute to the foresight of others. So, as always, we asked Pam for advice for the people starting out on their startup journey.
“Couple things. Please get a team that doesn’t overlap each other’s skill sets and embraces the backgrounds and differences in what they bring to the table. And you’ve got to trust and delegate – do not micromanage, or you won’t get the most out of your team. You’ve got to be able to say; I trust the person I’ve hired, and over here and over here, I am truly playing to their strengths. You’ve got to play to their strengths and let them shine.
I see many founders that want to take credit for everything. The problem is, you’re not going to grow, and you’re not going to attract the right people that way. You will attract only sycophants who will tell you what you want to hear.
You’ve got to delegate. Delegating is crucial for your company to strive and thrive. You’ve gotta give your team the tools and just trust them, even if they fail. And if you embrace that and let them know that that’s part of the culture, you end up with a stronger team that stays together.”