Gretchen Halpin, - co-founder of Beyond AUM, a marketing agency for financial advisors - is a strategic visionary with over 25 years of leadership and marketing experience. In her work with financial professionals and teams, Gretchen's primary focus is to accelerate and guide organizational growth in a positive, sustainable way. From successful entrepreneur to jack-of-all-trades strategic consultant, Gretchen's career path and journey to success have been guided by one true passion: to help people create the life and business they want, even when that means challenging the status quo.
Q: What inspired you to found Beyond AUM and what were the main challenges you faced?
When I changed career focus to the investment advisory industry over ten years ago, it was an advantage for me to be an outsider and see strengths, opportunities and trends with an outside perspective. I was also able to see the impact that a fiduciary advisor can have not only on their clients but their communities. My co-founder and I felt compelled to assist fiduciary financial advisors succeed in their businesses and help lift their clients’ financial wellness. By doing that, we feel good about playing our role to build the people and community around us.
Q: Did you start the venture alone?
No. Two heads are better than one and I was lucky to find a partner that balanced me out. We have different strengths and passions about what we do. This balance allows us to challenge each other and see things from different perspectives.
Q: What's your business model, and how have you grown your revenue?
In many ways, our model is the same as the fiduciary financial advisors we serve. We partner with our clients on the growth and client experience side of their businesses. We spot opportunities, help them plan strategically, and support the execution of their goals. We have developed our retainer-based model purely organically – through thought leadership and referrals.
Q: Do you think luck played a role in the success of your company?
Luck is what you make of it. Some people see an opportunity and are afraid to fail. Failure is part of building a business. When success comes, it comes because of previous failures, calculated risks, and a curiosity and drive to make things better or different. I’m not sure if any of that has anything to do with luck.
Q: What are your goals for the future?
Continue to enjoy what I do and be happy. Life’s too short to do something that doesn’t make you happy.
Q: If you had to start over, what would you do differently?
I don’t particularly like hindsight. Every piece of my life has been full of unexpected surprises - good and bad. They have shaped who I am as a person and business leader.
Q: Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?
I know I say this all the time and it may seem silly to some - but Wonder Woman. She is always on a righteous mission. She stands for truth and justice. She cares for humanity. However, if you cross her, she won’t let you get away with it. All while looking fabulous.
Q: What are your favorite books?
Without a doubt, the most influential book I have read is “The Outward Mindset: Seeing Beyond Ourselves” by The Arbinger Institute. As a high-energy professional, continual progress is always important to me. This book helped me break through my own, internal voice and needs — and, in turn, it helped me better understand how to recognize the needs of my clients and colleagues.
Sometimes, we fall into the trap of telling ourselves stories about situations in the workplace and our interactions with others, whether they be positive or negative. By adopting the “outward mindset” philosophy that forms the foundation of this book, we can reduce friction and build the curiosity muscle that allows us to more fully understand the needs and desires of others. By shifting our focus outside of ourselves, looking past our internal narratives, and prioritizing connection, we can improve communication in our organizations, solve problems faster, and bring about the kind of real, positive change that drives innovation.
Q: What's your advice for female founders who are just starting out?
Be authentic. It takes too much of your valuable energy to try to fit in. Don’t let fear paralyze you. Be curious and ask questions. Find people who are willing to support your career and look for ways to give back.