By: J. Chevont’e Alexander
“I believe a financially stronger Black community will build a stronger Nation for us all.” – JB Bryan
Since 1995, Jennifer “J.B.” Bryan has guided J.B. Bryan Financial Group Inc. with a focus on building long-term wealth, preparing clients for retirement and building a rapport with each client. Bryan’s firm revolves around retirement: retirement planning, retirement income creation, managing retirement portfolios, insurance, annuities as well as establishing employee benefit plans such as 401k and 403b plans.
Bryan began her financial career as a financial advisor for Wheat First Butcher Singer, Inc. Years later Bryan took her knowledge to open her own registered investment advisory firm. Since then, she’s helped a broad range of individuals, and groups including, corporate executives, retirees, people facing layoffs and families experiencing transition. Though the firm does a large amount of business in Washington, DC and Maryland, the corporate office is located in Innsbrook Business Park in Glen Allen, Virginia.
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Her knowledge has also been passed on in the classroom, as Bryan served as an adjunct professor at Howard University and Virginia Union University. She holds an undergraduate degree from University of Virginia and a master’s degree from Virginia Commonwealth University. She is also an active community member, and has served as an assistant coach in basketball, and is currently a Girl Scout troop leader and on the board of directors for the Girl Scouts Commonwealth Council.
She has been honored as a Virginia Hero by Virginia Heroes, Inc., and with two Distinguished Graduate Awards from the University of Virginia and Virginia Commonwealth University.
Urban Views Weekly was able to catch up with JB and chat about her ongoing success in the financial industry, her passion to help others and commitment to the Richmond community to help see it grow.
Immediately from the beginning of the interview, JB conveyed her deep passion. Over the last twenty years, JB has made it a mission of hers to listen and put her clients first. Check out her interview below on how she lives to financially empower our community by helping others.
JA: Welcome JB! Urban Views Weekly is excited to chat with you about your successful career and learn more about you.
JB: I am grateful for the opportunity.
JA: What was your childhood like? Did you always see yourself getting into the financial industry?
JB: I was born in the lovely small town of Ahoskie, North Carolina. But I went to elementary school in Dover, Delaware. I moved to Petersburg, Virginia in the 8th grade and attended Peabody Middle and Petersburg High School. My parents worked at Delaware State University, and then both of my parents worked at Virginia State University. My father was even the President at VSU for a while. I’m so proud!
JA: What has prepared you to be a successful entrepreneur?
JB: The number one component of being a successful entrepreneur is my faith in God and knowing that everyday is a leap of faith. I am thankful that my clients believe in me, and I am just amazed and humbled as to how God has continued my business.
Also, my parents always instilled in me that there was no other option than continuing my education. Having parents that were committed to education was a vital component to my success. I still constantly continue my education because it allows me to be at the top of my game, and it helps me teach and financially empower my clients versus just selling them a product.
Entrepreneurs don’t have to know everything about everything – but we must strive to know everything about our specialty.
JA: When did you decide that you wanted to own your own investment advisory firm?
JB: My original dream was actually to become a news anchor. When I was 15 years old, I did an internship with a local television station, and I fell in love with broadcast news, but God had a different plan for me. In college at UVA I attended their business school, and combined my dreams of being an anchor with business, and wanted to report on business news. During graduate school, I worked full time in radio sales, and never did I think I would be in the financial world as to what I do now.
In February 1995, I was a stockbroker\financial advisor at a firm and at my church in Petersburg, Gillfield Baptist, one of the senior members approached me and said have you ever thought about having your own firm? I said “no”. He said let’s talk and he explained that it is possible and he said, “ you can do it”. I believed him and within a few weeks I started my firm. It’s amazing when I think about it now. That’s how fast your life can change!
When I was approached by Wheat First to be a financial advisor, I shied away from it because I had a fear of talking to people about their money. But, then I turned to God and prayed about it and received another letter to join the team and I followed my calling. Let’s just say that listening is a good skill of a financial advisor.
After two years of working with Wheat First (first Black woman financial advisor that Wheat First hired), and realizing I wasn’t getting a customer lead unless someone specifically asked for the “Black woman”, I knew if I opened up my own firm I could empower people the way I wanted. I wanted to make an impact on the African American community, I knew I had to take the step and make myself more available. I knew that with working for myself I could make the commitment to my clients of making their interests and goals my first priority versus having a company product to promote. And, so I took a leap out on faith, and my business is my first child and I was blessed with my wonderful daughter Aazizah my second baby in 2001.
JA: So, it definitely sounds like the business has some ups and downs. What are some of the challenges and rewards of the business you are in?
JB: The challenges of this business is that media loves to talk about the financial industry, the ups and downs of the market. So it almost forces investors to consider making changes everyday. But that challenge is also the biggest blessing. The vast amount of information available can also help us make more informed choices, especially if you have a professional advisor to help decipher all the data.
The reward of the business is that there is so much information available. A financial advisor is so much more important these days because we can decipher the vast amount of information to specifically meet the needs of the clients. And, there are needs for a financial advisor whether the markets are good or bad.
JA: For those looking to get financial advice, what do you suggest?
JB: When looking for a financial advisor look for a partner, someone you want to spend your whole life with. Look for someone you really like and someone who is a good listener not just a talker. I want all of my professional partners to have similar values to me. I value family, faith, and friendship. I would select a financial advisor that always has my goals and best interest in mind.
My job is to communicate professional financial advice that can add value to your life.
JA: What are the ABC’s of financial fitness?
JB: There is no scientific strategy for people to get what they want. The ABC’s of financial fitness was a catchy term I came up with as a way to consolidate all the information available. When things are simple and easy, people can grab on quicker. The bottom line is to look at your finances.
The A is for accounting and accountability. This is how you organize, use online banking, follow your transactions, know what is going in and what is going out and establish a good foundation of bookkeeping. You set a budget by looking at what you are doing, and figuring out what is negotiable and what is not (bills vs. debt).
B is for building a financial portfolio. This involves building for the future, including retirement accounts, IRA’s and your asset protection and insurance.
The C is for a comprehensive review. This is pulling all of your financial statements together on a regular basis that includes saving, checking, debts, and investment accounts.
Some we should review monthly and others annually. It depends on your family’s needs.
JA: What is the message behind your AfroEconomics Blog?
JB: AfroEconomics is a term I created to communicate my firm’s commitment to the financial empowerment to the African American community. The Black community is full of hard working people who deserve the opportunity to learn more about financial products and services. My firm is here to do just that!
JA: Why is it so important in the African American community?
JB: Financial empowerment is important in every community. As an African American, I am in a minority group that deserves special attention. My firm wants to address financial challenges that are unique to our existence.
JA: Now, we are going to switch gears a bit. What is this I hear about your new interest for motorcycles and Harley’s?
JB: In 2004, I discovered my love for motorcycles. When I ride and the wind is hitting me, I feel a true sense of freedom and there is nothing more relaxing than that. Loud pipes and the warm wind hitting my face – Oh yes!!!!
JA: Well, JB, Urban Views Weekly appreciates the time you took to speak to us today. Where can people contact you and use your resources? Richmond and Washington?
JB: JB Bryan Financial is located at 4860 Cox Road Suite 200 Glen Allen, Virginia 23060. People can contact me at (804) 780-1025. I encourage people to look at my website, www.jbbryan.com.
I also offer a free AfroEconomics workshop every month designed to talk about your financial goals and challenges. People can register online for this as well.
JA: Well, is there anything else you would like to communicate to our readers?
JB: I want to financially empower African American people and help us realize that it is important to establish a legacy. I believe a legacy is not just about our money – but our legacy includes our character and the way we made people feel during our lifetime. We must live righteously for the next generation. I represent more than just myself.
Success for me is not about the material things I accumulate – but it’s about making the world a better place while I am here!
JB Bryan Financial Group, Inc. is an independent firm with securities offered through Summit Brokerage Services, Inc. Member FINRA, SIPC. Advisory Services offered through JB Bryan Financial Group, Inc, a Registered Investment Advisor.