The story, our story, starts with me.

I grew up on a farm in middle Tennessee. Daddy was a farmer, diversifying our income from milking cows, raising tobacco and growing 500,000 peach trees which had to be budded in the hot July sun to sell to the large Peach Orchards in Georgia, South Carolina and Texas. Mama was a homemaker rearing 6 children, tending the gardens, cooking, canning and freezing our food, which kept her busy. It was assumed by most people, I’d stick around the farm, maybe be a school teacher like my grandparents. But, I did none of those things.

I was an outgoing, industrious and personable child and very early on, right around my junior year in high school, I realized I had a gift for serving people. I landed a job in one of the two department stores in McMinnville during Christmas break. I simply loved helping folks find what they needed.

Then after college, I worked for Hudson Belk in the ladies dress department. Women would bring in their mothers and sisters, looking for a special outfit. From this experience, I realized people want guidance, attention and someone who is interested in them. They want to look good, feel good, and enjoy the compliments they get from their girlfriends. When they needed another new outfit, you guessed it, they came back and asked for me. That’s when I knew not only I could sell, but more importantly, that people wanted to buy from someone they trust.

I was working at The Denver Dry Goods department when my husband received his transfer notice to move to Wright Patterson Air Force base in 1985. I decided it was time for a career change myself. It so happened, we had a friend from church in the financial industry. I arranged to visit him at his office and learn more about financial services. I knew this career field was perfect for me; it let me serve people in a way that impacted their lives for years.

So, I immediately called and asked for interviews with the best firms on Wall Street—and was selected by the top three for their training programs.

I knew this business wasn’t about numbers. It was about relationships and people. I was drawn to them, their life stories, and what they wanted for their future. When someone feels you care about them, they think differently about you.

Shortly after completing my training, I started the 2-year program to become a Certified Financial Planner. My practice at one of the major Wall Street firms began to blossom. I graduated in the top five of my class. In 1988, when my husband and I moved to D.C., 100 percent of my clients came with me.

My practice was growing by leaps and bounds, and in 1994, I hired Dianne Nolin, who today is my partner. We have always been obsessed in having a holistic planning perspective—far before it was popular to do so. And I don’t have to tell you how rare it is to have two women running a practice.

That’s when I took the biggest leap I’ve ever done: I went independent in 1997.

This move, it goes without saying, was not only unpopular, it was risky and wildly discouraged. And without naming names, I will say the big firm I worked was none too pleased that we left and took measures to prevent it.

So why did I do it? It wasn’t to make a quick buck.

I went out on my own as an independent for one reason and one reason only: Because I knew it was the only way to serve the best interests of the client. Period.

Unfettered from brokerage house, bank, or insurance company, we could deliver world-class service and “unbiased” financial plans and investment recommendations.

Thirty years later, we continue to live this mission, every day: To do right by our clients and operate in ways which serve not just their money and assets, but their lives. Their loved ones. Their futures.

I stand by it. We all stand by it. And there’s not a question in my mind that this is what has contributed to our success—and earned the trust and respect we have from our clients and the industry at large.

-Brenda Blisk

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