I’m Bradley. Let me tell you a bit about what we do here at Clark Asset Management, how we got here and who I am.
The Professional Version
What are your qualifications?
CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ (CFP®)
Retirement Income Certified Professional® (RICP®)
Harvard University – AB, Economics (cum laude)
Stanford University - MBA (top 10% of class)
What is your past experience?
Prior to founding Clark Asset Management, I held a number of positions relating to strategic and financial planning and serving individual investors. I was a partner at Oliver Wyman Consulting, Publisher at The Motley Fool and Founder and CEO at both InvestorGen, LLC and Clark Consulting.
What sets you apart?
- We have a deep specialty in retirement income planning
- Bradley Clark is one of only 2% of advisors holding both the CFP and RICP designations
- We charge a simple fixed flat fee, unlike the 95%+ of advisors earning commissions or percentages
- We are one of a small percentage of firms approved to offer funds from Dimensional Fund Advisors, the leader in evidence-based investing
The Story Behind the Professional Version
How did Clark Asset Management come to be?
The First Glimpse
It was a beautiful spring day in Palo Alto in 1996. My Modern Portfolio Theory professor, Nobel laureate Bill Sharpe, was explaining the “illusion of stock picking skill” and the idea that stock pickers as a group lose big to the stock market as a whole.
I remember closing my eyes and taking it all in. Was it possible that a several hundred billion dollar industry was just harming investors? That the whole thing was built on an illusion? Even a lie? I was entranced.
In that same course, we were assigned the project of preparing a retirement income plan for a real person. I chose my father.
I loved generating the plan. Figuring out how to replace a paycheck with different sources of income felt central for those, like my dad, who worked hard their whole lives.
My father passed away suddenly at 52—just two months after I had prepared the plan—so he never got to use it. He didn’t have enough life insurance, nor had he implemented an effective estate plan. My father was one of the smartest and most accomplished people I knew. If he hadn’t planned properly, I couldn’t imagine how many other people hadn’t, either.
I caught a brief glimpse of my true calling during this class, but it would be another 17 years before I actually took concrete steps to become a financial advisor.
The Turning Point
In 2003, I ended up in an awkward position, one that ultimately led me to my true calling. I had accepted the position of Publisher & Chief Marketing Officer at The Motley Fool, the personal finance website. I loved the people and rocked the job.
But something was wrong.
You see, one of my responsibilities was to convince millions of investors that we had superior stock picking skills. There was just one problem with this. I didn’t believe it.
Beliefs are a funny thing. Back in 1996, I came to believe that stock picking skills are an illusion, and that belief had just stuck. I later realized that the Fool, and many other investment advisory companies, are focused on accumulation but not on decumulation: the part where you position a portfolio to generate stable income for life.
I eventually left The Fool with mixed feelings. I was proud of our commercial success and my role in that. But I also felt like I had betrayed my beliefs. It wasn’t a good feeling.
I tried jobs in other industries, but something kept pulling me back to investing and personal finance.
And then it finally hit me.
Launching the Firm
I knew I was meant to form my own financial advisory firm.
I launched Clark Asset Management, LLC in 2016. However, I didn’t actually set out to focus on retirement income planning. I was focused on launching a fixed flat fee wealth management firm because I think the other compensation models (commissions and percentages) have all sorts of problems.
And then something interesting happened.
The clients I started attracting with my flat fee had larger portfolios, which makes sense, as they’d prefer not to give up a large percentage of their portfolios nor lose out to commissions. Clients with larger portfolios also tend to be older. And what do people in their 50’s and 60’s need? Retirement income planning.
Clark Asset Management Today
We’ve become true experts in helping individuals and couples plan for a secure retirement, which I’ve loved ever since being exposed to it back in 1996. Applying this expertise to client situations is incredibly gratifying. It’s amazing to see the anxiety lift for our clients, to see them breathe easier—to know they have relaxed confidence about their financial security for the rest of their lives.
I get to help people and do it in a way that’s 100% consistent with my beliefs. I get to leverage a career’s worth of skills in financial planning and analysis, problem solving and client communication.
And I get to do my part to help transform an often shady industry into a helping profession.