Grant Blindbury has been a family man from the start.
A partner at FMB Wealth Management, Grant began working with husband-and-wife business partners Tom and Debbie Fields (the F in FMB) fresh out of college. Back then, the firm was a literal mom-and-pop operation. The two took Grant in and showed him the ropes before eventually elevating him to partner. Now, Grant focuses on passing on what his business “parents” taught him to both his clients and younger employees.
“A lot of what we do with our clients at the end of the day is coaching if we’re doing it right,” Grant says. “But also, what we do within the firm. Like, what’s our obligation to the younger employees that we’re bringing in, and trying to pay that forward?”
Speaking of coaching and family, Grant prioritizes his kids over everything. By consistently volunteering as a coach for his three kids’ sports teams, he holds himself accountable to never miss a big moment.
Tailgates and Margaritavilles
Grant is what’s known as a parrothead—a follower of one Jimmy Buffett. Grant and his wife love to attend tailgates before concerts and hand out Jell-O shots to fellow parrotheads. How long until his kids are indoctrinated into the cult of Buffett? It remains to be seen.
Listen here to Grant’s story.
Click here to read the transcript.
Intro Speaker 0:00
From Los Angeles, this is the Echelon radio network.
Jerri Hemsworth 0:13
So this is Jerri Hemsworth with the Echelon Radio Podcast, and I am thrilled today to have Grant Blindbury here with me. How are you?
Grant Blindbury 0:23
Great. Thanks for having me.
Jerri Hemsworth 0:25
I’m so glad you’re here. You are with FMB Wealth Management. What is FMB stand for?
Grant Blindbury 0:36
So it it really is just the letters. It’s not short for a more proper acronym. But the letters are supposed to represent Fields, Miller and Blindbury. So those were in place in 2007, when we kind of rebranded with the three partners. So Tom and Debbie Fields were actually the founding partners. And so when I first met them, it was a literal mom-and-pop shop. It was Tom and Deb and that was it. And they were my parents’ investment advisors.
Jerri Hemsworth 1:10
Oh, really? Did you know that when you were a little kid?
Grant Blindbury 1:15
So what happened was, I grew up in Manhattan Beach, my parents both worked in aerospace down there, and then in the early ’90s, that entire industry was going through a lot of upheaval. And so my dad started looking around for some other opportunities, before he was forced to, and got a job at Amgen, which was large, but not close to the size that it is now. So we moved up to Westlake then. That was right, between eighth and ninth grade for me. So then started at high school up here. And what happened was, when we moved up here, my parents’ accountant, down in Manhattan Beach said, ‘hey, things are going to be a little different for you now. In the industry that you were in before, there wasn’t a lot of decisions that you had to be making, right? Like you go to work, company’s going be putting away a big defined benefit pension thing for you. And then if you really want to get fancy, you participate in your 401k. And that was about it, right? And now moving up to Amgen, it was kind of stepping forward into the newer generation of how corporate America does their benefits and how employees are supposed to be saving in their compensation structures. And he said, there’s going to be a lot more decisions you have to make, and wrong ones are going to hurt you a lot more. There’s no more defined benefit plan, there’s a ton of different stock options.
Jerri Hemsworth 2:33
Now you have to think and participate.
Grant Blindbury 2:35
Yeah, so maybe get some help on that. I know a really good guy up there. So they introduced them to Tom. And it worked out incredibly well for them. I mean, literally changed their life for the better and in meaningful ways that they still are so thankful for today. And then when I went off to college, I went to UCLA, and I was a business economics major, really just interested in finance. I did an internship after my freshman year at a large wire house, and it just didn’t fit my DNA. It didn’t fit my vibe, completely different frequency than what I thought I was going to be doing and the way I was going to be interacting. So the next summer I came home and they said, ‘what are you going to do?’ I said ‘I don’t know, hang out my friends?’
Jerri Hemsworth 3:21
That went over well, I’m sure.
Grant Blindbury 3:23
No, they’re like, ‘well, you’re not moving home when you graduate. So you better do something to make your resume look better.’
Jerri Hemsworth 3:29
Okay, so the line was drawn in the sand.
Grant Blindbury 3:32
‘Just a heads up what’s coming around the corner. So why don’t you go meet with Tom and Deb. See what you think. It’s kind of similar to what you did last summer.’ I was like, ‘I don’t even know if I want to do that anymore.’ So I went in and and worked there. They were nice enough to have me. And it was just incredible. Like, it was exactly what I thought I was going to be doing. When I was attracted to the industry in the first place. And next summer I came home did the same thing. After graduating, I was like ‘hey, can I still do this? Let’s figure out a way for this to work.’ Because it was just the two of them. They never had an employee before. So we figured out a way to make it work. I brought on one of my close friends from high school and college, Evan Miller, and said, ‘hey, you know, instead of doing what you’re doing, like, this is really cool. I really like these people.’ He was the same major as me as well, so kind of into finance. So we brought him on. That was like 2001, 2002. And then by 2007, Tom and Deb, who were great, were like, ‘hey, we want you to really be able to go out and and elevate yourselves when you’re talking about this. We want to make you guys partners, so we’re going to rebrand the firm.’
Jerri Hemsworth 4:49
Did that shock you?
Grant Blindbury 4:51
It did. I mean, it did a little bit. By that time, I was already accustomed to them thinking about us almost first before themselves.
Jerri Hemsworth 5:04
Grant Blindbury 5:04
Yeah, no, I got completely lucky with who I got to be kind of my professional mentor. And that’s become something, and I’ve talked about this a little bit on some of our other meetings and calls, that the culture FMB has carried that forward. We’re so coaching and mentoring-heavy. I mean, a lot of what we do with our clients at the end of the day is coaching if we’re doing it right. But also, what we do within the firm. Like, what’s our obligation to the younger employees that we’re bringing in and trying to pay that forward?
Jerri Hemsworth 5:44
Did Tom and Debbie have the same pastimes and hobbies as you? Are they sports people? Because you’re a very big sports fan. Particularly baseball, correct?
Grant Blindbury 6:00
Yeah, yeah. Much bigger fan than I ever was a talent at baseball. But that’s okay. It takes it takes both.
Jerri Hemsworth 6:09
You play a different kind of Moneyball.
Grant Blindbury 6:17
When I was growing up, I was lucky enough to have my dad coach all of my teams. And I didn’t completely take that for granted. So you know, I’m I’m interning when I’m 20 years old at this firm. And it stood out to me that Tom and Deb didn’t miss one of their kids’ high school water polo games. And this ability to have this work/life harmony, that would prioritize those of types of things, was something that was already appealing to me. Like I knew I wanted to coach my kids’ teams, and I know I wanted to be going into a career that would allow me to do that. I mean, after graduating, while working in Westlake, I was living in Manhattan Beach. That was a lot more fun for a 22-year-old. And I still knew plenty of people involved in that little league down there, because that’s where I grew up. I just coached down there my own team for six years, like 13, 14-year-olds. I brought a couple of my fraternity brothers along and we were like the cool college kid coaches. And those 13 and 14-year-olds were kind of excited to not have one of the dads coaching him. It was just fun. It’s something I always wanted to do. Like I appreciated and valued that my dad had done that, and that my mom was able to be team mom and all that kind of stuff. So in a way, it allowed me to engage in sports and have that path open for me to do with my kids. Not that, you know, he was a big baseball nut and now I’m a big baseball nut. It didn’t connect like that.
Jerri Hemsworth 7:54
But I think what’s interesting is that you identified at quite a young age, the path you wanted your life to take So that when you did have kids, you wanted to become that kind of mentor, coach, dad, whatever your future would bring in. Isn’t it interesting that you take on, as an outsider looking at you and listening to you, you do that for your clients as well.
Grant Blindbury 8:21
I appreciate that.
Jerri Hemsworth 8:23
Grant Blindbury 8:25
Yeah, I don’t know that I had this desire to go blaze a new path as much as I just really appreciated the gifts and the opportunities and the resources and attention and support that I got. And I wanted to make sure that I was going to be positioned to do that for my family, as well. So at a high level, that was probably one of the strongest beacons for me.
Jerri Hemsworth 8:53
Fee-based, or commission-based?
Grant Blindbury 8:56
Yeah, no, fee-only shop. And we were doing that I think way before, it was kind of in vogue.
Jerri Hemsworth 9:05
From what I understand that really came about around the mid ’90s, and that it’s very appealing on so many levels for a lot of wealth managers. Is that part of what you didn’t like at the larger firms or what you found wasn’t what you thought?
Grant Blindbury 9:29
I just appreciated the focus and priorities more that Tom and Deb had, and I think it’s fairly unique even in the in the late ’90s for there to literally just to be a husband and wife who are a completely independent registered investment advisory shop. So they had a unique ability to completely control the culture and the comp structure and all that stuff however they wanted. So they got to completely do it in their mold. And I just got really lucky that I got to get hooked up with them early. I think there’s absolutely something to be said for developing some scars in what you do and learning from that. And I didn’t go through that. But I also feel very lucky that I just got a head start on the path that I would have eventually found and wanted to get to anyways. That structure for our RIAs or that fee-based structure, it’s a really good structure once you’ve got a good base of clients; it’s a really tough structure when you’re starting without any clients to build up. So, it’s not a complete chicken-and-egg, but what you find is a lot of people who kind of start their businesses in one vein, and then try to convert over, which is I completely get the dollars and cents on that. I just started on that track already and just kind of stayed on it.
Jerri Hemsworth 10:53
You were there, and it works for you. Who are your typical clients? You have a fair amount of professional athletes, is that true?
Grant Blindbury 11:03
Yeah. So, it’s one of those things, you get one, and then you do some good work and you get a few more. I think it’s also something that we’re pretty careful on who we work with in that space
Jerri Hemsworth 11:16
You get to be selective?
Grant Blindbury 11:18
Yeah, because another aspect of the fee-base-only model is that you need the clients to stick around for a while if they’re actually going to be a profitable asset for your business, right? There’s so much intensive work upfront in getting them set up, and if they only stick around for a year or two, you’re just spinning your wheels. And so, you know, we learned pretty quickly that there’s characteristics within the professional athlete space that you need to be careful of. Same with with entertainment too, like being as close to to Hollywood as we are. And finding folks who are going to be coachable, who are going to listen to the advice as opposed to come and tell you what they heard and expect you to recreate it whether or not there’s ingredients to do it or not.
Jerri Hemsworth 12:13
Grant Blindbury 12:14
So you know, the athlete book isn’t as big as as it could have been, because we’re trying to be smart about that. But when you find those people, it’s an incredibly rewarding relationship both ways. Because as busy as they and as focused as they are on trying to do what they do during their season, and in the offseason working or rehabbing, or do anything like that, they don’t have the time to focus on these things. And unfortunately, it’s why you see so many stories of these types of folks getting taken advantage of Because there’s not the time to oversee what anyone’s doing. So once you get a reputation for doing the right thing, then you get a lot more opportunities.
Jerri Hemsworth 12:59
I bet. They’re telling their friends or their buddies, ‘Hey, you’ve got to talk to Grant.’
Grant Blindbury 13:04
Yeah, and unfortunately, sometimes they’re coming in after there’s already been a negative experience and there’s a little bit of cleanup, but better late than never.
Jerri Hemsworth 13:13
Yes, I know. We identify with that, too. Many times we come in after somebody has been with a marketing firm or something and there’s some pretty heavy-duty damage that needs to be cleaned up. And it’s it’s unfortunate. But it’s also fortunate that they find us and your clients find you. I want to switch gears a little bit. How’d you meet your wife?
Grant Blindbury 13:37
I met her on the Fourth of July down in Hermosa Beach. Like I said, after college, I moved back down to Manhattan, Hermosa Beach, and was, you know, still single at the time. So commuting back to Westlake You know, it wasn’t…I didn’t have like a family that was waiting for me at home or anything like that. And Westlake was still a little bit sleepy back then. It’s livened up a little bit more now. So, anyway, yeah, I just met her on the Fourth of July. She was actually out in Southern California on vacation. She grew up in Texas, and then she had moved to Florida. And then she was out from Florida, in California, Hermosa Beach. And we met on the Fourth of July, then we had our first date the next day. And then she just didn’t go home.
Jerri Hemsworth 14:35
Whoa. Never went back. And wasn’t she a professional athlete?
Grant Blindbury 14:44
She was a professional wrestler on TV for a while and is actually a third-generation professional wrestler. Her grandfather started professional wrestling in Texas. And then he had five boys, one of which was my wife’s dad. And they were a famous wrestling family in Texas, the Von Erichs. And then her dad was kind of the most famous of them and got pulled up. When I was a kid, I would watch her dad on TV on WWF.
Jerri Hemsworth 15:19
Did you find out the day you met her who her father was? Or after you started dating?
Grant Blindbury 15:26
Pretty quickly after we started dating. I mean, it’s a it’s a stage name. Her maiden name isn’t Von Erich. But yeah, it’s a pretty cool aspect to her story. And we were both trying to, like, rapidly impress each other. So we were playing all of our cards.
Jerri Hemsworth 15:44
Laughs. I understand that. That’s great. But now fast forward to today. You have three children. What ages?
Grant Blindbury 15:57
Daniel is 14. He’s just about ready to start his freshman year at Westlake High School. And then Trip is eight years old. He just finished second grade he’ll be starting third grade. And Barbie is our youngest. She’s going to be starting kindergarten next year. So she’s super excited. She gets to go to her big brother’s school next year.
Jerri Hemsworth 16:17
Oh, that was huge. I had that with my brother, too. I was like, whoa. There were three and a half years between me and my next brother. And to be at the same school with my brother, that was exciting stuff. Big time. Yeah, big time. A recurring theme with you, and I think even before you came here today, Brian and I were talking about you, the thing that came up in our conversation was family. It’s always been very apparent. You’re a huge family guy. And talking with you, your upbringing, and your experience with Tom and Debbie, and your own family. How are you and your wife creating family balance with what you do? And are you really able to get to your kids’ sporting events and participate in their lives the way Tom and Debbie did with theirs?
Grant Blindbury 17:11
Yeah, I mean, jumping right to the last part: Yes. Just because it’s, for the most part, non-negotiable. And so I just make it happen, right? Like yesterday, my son had his first freshman football practice. And luckily, my office is about like 300 yards from Westlake High School, so it’s not hard for me to get over there. But I didn’t want to miss it, even though it’s just a practice. It was a really big deal for him. So I wanted to be able to get over there just to see it. So yeah, that’s kind of non-negotiable, right? And I also just kind of baked that in by making sure I’m always one of the coaches. So it’s like, I have to be there.The practice or the game can’t happen without the coach. So that’s how I kind of make sure that I forced myself to be there. But it’s also really cool that they’re going to remember that I was out there coaching with him. My little girl Barbie, she just did her first year in girls’ softball. The Westlake/Agoura girls’ softball program out there, and it’s a big deal. There was a couple practices that I had some stuff going on during, and I was one of the assistant coaches, so I didn’t have to necessarily run it, but she wouldn’t go to the practic without me, which isn’t necessarily a great thing. But the fact that she’s connecting me that closely with a ment a lot to me because I’m going to be part of that memory. And it’s going to be nothing but additive to my relationship with her.
Jerri Hemsworth 18:45
I so understand that. My mom was always around in my classrooms when I was a little kid in elementary school. We always had teacher aides, you know, parents. And when our daughter was in elementary school, they didn’t have that program in LAUSD, at least out here. But the one opportunity I could do was be an art mom for her classes. So I made it a priority that I would be the art mom in all of her classes from kindergarten through fifth. And so I was always there once a week to teach art. And it’s a huge deal to little kids. I mean, you remember how much your parents were involved in your education and being around. I absolutely love and admire that you’re doing this with your children and I guarantee you they’ll do it with their kids.
Grant Blindbury 19:41
Yeah, you bring up the school thing. At least at Westlake Elementary, like Pre-K, kindergarten, first grade and second grade, there’s a lot of opportunities to volunteer as a parent in the classroom. Unfortunately, I only got to do that for a little bit in his first grade class before that got shut down, and then really nothing at all this year. But volunteering in his kindergarten class and in his first grade class, while I could once a week, and then looking forward to doing that with Barbie as she starts, it’s just those additional opportunities. I’m not sure if they will or not, but I did recognize that not all the other kids had their parent there, and it meant something to me. And so I’m hoping it hits the mark there, too. But even if it doesn’t, just for me, I love participating in that. I knew every single kid’s name in their classroom. When they would tell me stories about them, I knew exactly who that kid was and what their personality was, and my ability to then interact with them about their day… I had so much more information to be able to communicate with them on that. ‘Yeah my dad knows, he knows. He knows about her. He knows about him.’ And so I love that aspect of it as well.
Jerri Hemsworth 20:59
I’ll be curious if your kids are more open to talking to you about their friends, because they know you know that kid. We found Libby was very open to talking to us about individual kids or an issue they might be having. And it just opens the dialog when you know who they’re talking about.
Grant Blindbury 21:19
Yeah, if you ever get a chance to meet my kids, you’ll realize they’re open to talk about absolutely everything, all at the same time. I joke that there’s not enough mic time to go around in our house. They will talk about absolutely everything and anything. And not wait for anyone to finish. My wife and I are used to it. But other people will come over and be like ‘I’m not quite sure how you deal with this. They’re all talking at the same time. Like, I kind of get what’s going on, though. Like I’m picking it up.’ But it’s a lot. Yeah. They’re very social, and talkative.
Jerri Hemsworth 21:57
I’m going to switch gears again, because I just learned something about you that I think is great fun. Are they parrotheads? Or do they even know who Jimmy Buffett is?
Grant Blindbury 22:08
You know, I’m really good about, when I have the kids in my in my car, I let them play DJ. And then they’ll rotate around and they’ll pick their songs. And it’s a really eclectic mix. It’s really eclectic. Jimmy Buffett hasn’t made it into the rotation yet. But that’s okay. There’s some other really good ones. Luckily, most of the things in the rotation I like. Strangely enough, two of my daughter’s favorite songs are John Denver songs. She wants to ‘Take Me Home, Country Roads,’ and then it’s usually immediately followed by ‘Grandma’s Featherbed.’ The best part is she sings so loud on the songs. And I can tell, in her head, she’s like Whitney Houston. It’s just the most adorable thing. And then also some ACDC makes it into the mix.
Jerri Hemsworth 23:09
Okay. All right. But that’s not Barbie. Is that Trip or Daniel?
Grant Blindbury 23:13
No, Barbie. She can move very quickly between John Denver to AC/DC to Taylor Swift. And then usually segue into some Miley Cyrus before probably eventually ending up with like some Parry Gripp, ‘Raining Tacos.’
Jerri Hemsworth 23:32
But when will you let her know that dad is a Jimmy Buffett fan?
Grant Blindbury 23:37
Well, I mean, I tried to silently kind of lead by example, when they say, ‘okay, dad, it’s your turn,’ like once in a blue moon. I’ll slip in a little bit.
Jerri Hemsworth 23:47
Do they go, ‘what is that?’
Grant Blindbury 23:49
Yeah, you know, they don’t quite appreciate it yet. A lot of it is the words and the vibe and the picture that it paints in your head on those songs is really what I love. And some of the kind of either cute or roundabout ways of communicating a meaningful message I think are clever. And it just misses the mark.
Jerri Hemsworth 24:10
They don’t get it. Margaritaville is like, ‘what? What is that?’
Grant Blindbury 24:23
Yeah, yeah, I don’t really want to be like explaining that just yet.
Jerri Hemsworth 24:26
Five-year-olds, eight-year-olds, yeah. I can understand that. Is your wife a parrothead?
Grant Blindbury 24:31
She was immediately after I took her to her first concert. She was like, ‘holy cow.’ Down in Anaheim. It wasn’t that many years ago. We were down there. I was like, ‘okay, we’ve got to get in there really early. Gotta go the tailgate.
Jerri Hemsworth 24:48
Did she want to?
Grant Blindbury 24:50
She was going along with it. She was like ‘yeah, like let’s do it.’ So I say ‘all right, well, the currency at these tailgates is like Jell-O shots. We have to make a giant bag of Jell-O shots.’ She didn’t get it until we went down there. After she was like ‘holy cow. That was an amazing.’ Have you been to a Jimmy, Buffett concert?,
Jerri Hemsworth 25:13
Grant Blindbury 25:14
The tailgate’s better than the concert. People set up entire mini game shows with spinning wheels and prizes. People make like 10 times the food they want because they have to hand out, you know, coconut shrimp to everybody. It’s the most friendly group of people you’ve ever seen. And everyone wants you to come in. And they build these little tailgate areas where they want people walking around to come in and participate in come take a picture with this crazy shark. It’s awesome. And everybody’s just in the best mood. And then by the time you get into the concert, you’re just on such a high; this is just going be the greatest thing ever. And you kind of float in, there’s all the songs you can sing along with.
Jerri Hemsworth 26:06
Does anybody open for him? Or is it just tailgate and Jimmy?
Grant Blindbury 26:11
Well, I usually milk the tailgate as long as I can. So I’m definitely missing the opening act if there is one. I think there’s plenty of people who just tailgate, like they don’t even have tickets to the concert. They just go and sleep it off in their motorhome.
Jerri Hemsworth 26:29
Could that be your retirement? Motorhome trips across the states going to Jimmy Buffett concerts?
Grant Blindbury 26:37
I could totally do that. We met some folks who had just flown in from St. Louis. And they had all this crappy stuff, like crappy lawn chairs and a lot of other people, you can tell they put in a lot of time into this, right? So we walk up, you know, you’re friendly, talking with everybody. And we’re like, ‘yeah, you guys kind of mailed it in on your tailgate.’ And they were like, ‘yeah, we’re just leaving all stuff here. We flew in today from St. Louis. We just bought this stuff at CVS. We’re leaving it in the parking lot and flying home.’ But I mean, they they fly around and this is what they do at all the concerts. They don’t want to have to lug all their stuff but they love the tailgate. So they just budget for some crappy lawn chairs and coolers, and they just kind of leave them there. But that’s their version of following around the Grateful Dead and is flying around to the Jimmy Buffett tailgates.
Jerri Hemsworth 27:27
So if your kids ever lose you, all they have to do is check the concert schedule, and Blindbury will be there somewhere along the trail. The Buffet Trail with Blindbury.
Grant Blindbury 27:41
That would be great. I hope he keeps playing long for that to be part of my retirement plan. That’d be awesome.
Jerri Hemsworth 27:47
Grant, so good to have you. This is so much fun. Thank you for being here today.
Grant Blindbury 27:52
Yeah, that was a lot of fun. Thank you for having me.
Intro Speaker 28:02
Presented by Echelon Business Development,. More than just networking. Way more.