Providing financial services with customers in mind

In 1997, financial advisor Richard Babjak and his colleague, Robert Yarosz, became convinced there was a better way when it came to financial services. “I was working for a firm that was making changes which, quite frankly, made me uncomfortable,” recalls Babjak. “I decided then to start my own broker dealer.” The result was World Equity Group, an independent broker dealer that specializes in a customer-focused approach to financial services. “Our goal is to do what is in the best interest of our independent representatives and the clients they serve,” says Babjak, founder and president of the company. It’s a formula that is clearly working, with Babjak’s firm averaging 20 percent top-line growth annually since its inception.

“Our firm is completely focused on the relationships with the independent representatives as well as giving them the tools to form deeper relationships with their clients.”—Richard Babjak, Founder & President

Our success is based, in large part, on the expertise of our independent representatives and advisors. In our industry, the majority of firms are run by people who have spent little, if any, time on the front lines when it comes to making investment decisions and working directly with clients. World Equity Group is run by top-producing financial advisors who understand the needs of independent representatives and their clients. As a result you just don’t see change for the sake of change. The firm is completely focused on the relationships with the independent representatives as well as giving them the tools to form deeper relationships with their clients. Our representatives are independent. This means they don’t have proprietary products, which they are required to sell on behalf of a brokerage company. Consequently, they are free to develop and implement specialized investment strategies that meet the needs of each client. In essence, they can be completely objective when it comes to making decisions, which are in the clients’ best interests.

Trust is essential to client and representative partnerships. This business works best when there is implicit trust between advisor and client. Our representatives are not only keenly aware of this truth, but practice it on a daily basis. Their goal is to continually earn the trust of each client through ethical and effective investment management. Our representatives must have that same trust in us as their broker dealer. This is evidenced by our representatives’ long-term tenure with World Equity Group and almost nonexistent turnover in a very competitive business.

Risk management figures prominently in our investment strategies. This is clients’ money that we are handling—sometimes their entire life’s savings—and, as such, a client’s comfort with risk is carefully considered. For instance, since many of my clients are older, coupled with the current investment environment, protecting the downside is more important than trying to get all of the upside. A younger client may take the opposite approach because of their longer time horizon before income is needed from investments. But, whatever the comfort for risk, we make sure that monies are put into solid, reliable products, and services with growth potential. We have always stayed away from the questionable investment practices that have raised concerns in recent years.

Looking ahead, we are well positioned for the future. These are tough times for independent broker dealers. Unfortunately, federal regulations meant to rein in unethical investment practices have too often proven to be a heavy burden for small to midsize firms. Many firms simply don’t have the resources to devote to meeting excessive new regulations. However, we’re optimistic about our prospects of becoming one of the top 50 broker dealers in the nation within the next five years. We’re confident that our emphasis on trust, risk management, and strong client-broker relationships will allow us to not only survive but also thrive in this challenging environment.