June 2018

Blisk Financial Group: A holistic approach to money management

Author: Linda S. Hopkins | Photographer: M.Kat Photography

How does a farm girl go from milking cows to managing multimillion-dollar investment accounts? Ask Brenda Blisk, founder and CEO of Blisk Financial Group, who has recently been named to Barron’s list of Top 1200 Financial Advisors in the nation (formerly the Top 1000 list) … again. She has also been named in the publication’s Top 100 Women Financial Advisors and is consistently ranked in the top 30 advisors in her home state of Virginia, among many other honors. That’s nothing to sneeze at, as we say here in the South.

As a child, growing up on a farm in middle Tennessee, Blisk didn’t hear her parents talk about financial planning. No one mentioned their 401K contributions or discussed how to balance the budget. Her daddy diversified by milking cows, cultivating tobacco, and growing 500,000 peach trees, while her mother kept busy as a homemaker, rearing six children.

The oldest of her siblings, Blisk had a strong propensity for problem-solving and math—a skill set that has served her well in every endeavor. “Where I grew up, women tended to go into the teaching profession. I thought I would end up being a teacher. And in fact, I really am. I teach people how to be good stewards of their money,” Blisk said.

Still, Blisk wasn’t handed her career on a silver platter. She entered beauty pageants and twirled batons to make enough money to attend Tennessee Technological University and later George Peabody College, where she studied English and business. She then went on to work as department manager of ladies dresses for Hudson Belk at Crabtree Valley Mall, in Raleigh, North Carolina. “That’s just another example of problem solving,” she said. “People want to look good. You help them find something in their budget, and if they look great, they feel great.”

In 1985, at the suggestion of a friend who recognized Blisk’s gift of serving, she made a bold move into the financial services business, interviewing at four major brokerage houses who all offered her a position. She began her training at Prudential Bache in spring 1986 and never looked back.

Ten years later, after working for several large Wall Street firms, Blisk decided to strike out on her own, forming Blisk Financial Group in 1997, an independent firm, now providing advice and investment management to clients in over 20 states. “We are not owned by a bank or an insurance company or a Wall Street firm. I own Blisk Financial Group,” she said. “We are totally independent, which means we don’t have any in-house product. We sit on the same side of the table as our clients, and we work for you. That’s why I went independent. Clients want advisors with no conflicts of interest, and advice that is customized to them and their families. We provide service to as many as four generations in some families.”

Equally important to her independent status, and setting her apart from many other financial service organizations, is the level of training and licensing she insists upon. In addition to support staff, Blisk’s team includes five wealth managers, four of whom are certified financial planners (CFP® professionals). “As certified financial planners, we adhere to and are held to a fiduciary standard by the Certified Financial Planner Board,” she said. “Just like CPAs or attorneys, we are required to have 30 hours of continuing education every two years, so we are on the leading edge of investments and market trends.”

Today, while she is a walking, talking encyclopedia of financial terms, current tax laws, and savvy investment strategies, for Blisk, wealth management isn’t just about numbers. “As an entrepreneur, what I do is help people protect what they care about most: their loved ones,” she said. “One of the greatest rewards for me is being able to help my clients live a life of significance and seeing them make a difference in the lives of the people they love because of our coaching.”

Accomplishing this requires Blisk and her team to look at the “whole” picture and take a holistic approach to every individual situation. Likening relationships with clients to that of a physician, Blisk said, “We need to know all about you before we can make good recommendations. It’s just like if you went to the doctor. We’re not going to guess. We are going to take a few tests and come up with a strategy and a plan to treat it, cure it, or at least we’re going to manage it.”

BFG is also one of the few firms in the country that employs its own internal director of investment research. “Whether you ask for a financial plan or simply a second opinion, we have to look at where the client is, where they want to go, and then put it together in a plan or a recipe that makes it work. You can’t just go in and sell out everything and start over. We want to strategically unwind some of the risks to get the maximum return with the least amount of risk,” Blisk said. “Managing the money is just part of it.

Because of our background, wisdom and training, we can solve problems with many different investment tools, from the simplest to the most sophisticated investment strategy, whereas many financial advisors sell only what their firm offers. A well-balanced financial plan covers it all: life insurance, investment management, income strategies, estate or legacy consideration/planning and, of course, long-term care costs. “Financial services is a broad term,” she continued. “Insurance is like pantyhose. It fits everybody, right? But it’s not the only investment out there. You need it as part of a balanced portfolio. It’s one of your tools. We just have a bigger toolbox. We bring much more wisdom to the table, and offer more solutions for your financial security.”

According to Blisk, security is about more than what you have. It’s about knowing what to do with it. “Fact is, having enough is not the same as feeling secure. And what matters more than anything else is knowing that you have the right team to help you make the right decisions not if, but when things change.”

Blisk and her husband David split their time equally between their home in Tysons Corner, Virginia and their Berkeley Hall home in Okatie, South Carolina. Their daughter, Lauramarie Ross, attended Smith Stearns Tennis Academy on Hilton Head Island and was a nationally ranked tennis player in high school. Now grown up and married, she has blessed the Blisks with four grandchildren.

When you’re looking for someone who is trustworthy and who can put all the pieces of your financial puzzle together, Blisk Financial Group can do that. “If you can manage your money, you also can manage your life, and you are much happier,” Blisk said.
You can bet the farm on it.

For more information, visit www.bliskfinancialgroup.com, call (703) 748-5828 or contact Brenda for a complimentary consultation at Brenda.Blisk@spireip.com

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