With over 26 years in the financial services space, Eric is someone who understands the value of experience. His path to founding his own firm, BKA Wealth Consulting, was a winding one, and he’s worn a lot of hats along the way.
Eric explains “I’ve worn the hard hats, I’ve walked the plant floors, put on the bunny suits, been in the clean rooms for semiconductor plants. I’ve covered just about everything under the sun from publicly traded private correction firms, to energy companies, to the auto racing business. Throughout that time, I’ve managed research departments, did individual company stock research, and I’ve been a portfolio manager. And now I run my own firm alongside my business partner.”
Eric met BKA’s fellow co-founder, Jeff Kikel, through their local chamber of commerce. At the time, they didn’t know they would later go on to found a firm focused on helping entrepreneurs succeed. However, they volunteered together on a variety of other city boards and commissions, and later both joined city council. The duo quickly realized they shared values, aspirations, and a desire to be involved in their community, and ultimately the idea of founding BKA brought them together. Eric said “One evening we were hanging out and we just decided to saddle up and do this together. We launched with barely 2 nickels to rub together and didn’t take salaries for a while. That’s what you do when you’re sacrificing to try to achieve a shared vision.”
Part of this vision was to be a purely independent, free-thinking, firm where they give their advisors the freedom to work with their clients in the way they see fit. Transparency is at the core of everything BKA does. “We wanted to make sure that our clients knew, both on the business owner side and on the individual client-side, that they’re talking to the portfolio manager, they’re talking to the financial planner. They’re talking to the people who are actively thinking, observing, and working hands-on with them to drive positive outcomes.”
This vision of transparency and independence has given BKA the freedom to pursue multiple avenues within their firm. While BKA leads with financial planning, they also offer valuation, exit planning, and benefits services for private clients. They see their diverse offerings as an opportunity to engage, educate, and provide additional value for clients. BKA issues two weekly webcasts; one is Market Minutes, a summary of key insights from their market research. The other is Charts of the Week, where they pull together relevant data in a visual way to help illustrate key points.
“There’s a trend in larger companies of emphasizing financial wellness among their employees. Until now it’s always been a guy in a polyester leisure suit showing up once a year with a PowerPoint and trying to inspire people to save. Instead, what we’re trying to do is create content that employees can watch in a minute. Quick-hitting content that is easily digestible. In time, they’ll be much more knowledgeable and make better decisions as a result.”
When asked about the future of BKA and what they’re most excited about, Eric said that right now they’re focused on managing growth and making sure that they preserve their company culture as they scale. “We’re getting big enough now that we need support, but we also need to maintain the culture that we’ve established. We have a mindset here that everyone works the mailroom sometimes, and this is important because we work together and collaborate so much internally. We really believe that the whole of the company can be greater than the sum of its parts, but everyone has to be a good fit to make that happen.”
Another key element BKA has focused on is deploying technology which supports its scaling operations. When BKA was in the market for a new portfolio accounting platform, one of their advisors had an existing relationship with Bridge. It made sense for BKA to explore if Bridge’s technology would be a good fit for their team, ultimately choosing to partner with the Bridge team over many big name brands.
Now, BKA is a thriving client of Bridge’s and continues to power their firm’s operations with Bridge’s back-end technology. Eric adds “The Bridge team will ping us with ideas and they’re very receptive to what we have in terms of feedback. We’re extremely happy with that relationship and proud to be a flag bearer for Bridge. When you have options in the marketplace it is tempting to pick the big brand, but you’ll end up calling the 800 number and you have no connection to the people who are pulling the strings. We like that high-level interaction and feel like the door is always open.”
With a mission to provide clients with transparent, impactful relationships and a growing team supported by modern technology, BKA has a clear path ahead to continued success. Eric and Jeff look forward to continuing to generate positive outcomes for clients while supporting the work of their team.