Williams Wealth Management Group Inc. of Bradenton was one of the fastest growing of the businesses named to the inaugural USF Fast 56.
Owner Derek Williams said his firm has grown 300 percent over the past four years, ranking it 18th among the 47 businesses tapped for the list.
“We continue to be on a high trajectory, in part due to the market and in part due to our approach,” said Williams, who graduated from USF in 2000 with a bachelor’s degree in finance and management information systems.
The firm’s niche approach differs from other, similar financial firms in that it does not involve sales.
“We’re a registered investment adviser, different than a traditional stockbroker,” he said. “Our focus is on providing individual service to clients, not selling products.”
A certified financial planner, Williams began working in the wealth-management business in 1996 with several small boutique investment firms.
The Bradenton native formed his firm in 2007, and now has about 225 clients. He is separately a registered representative of LaSalle St. Securities LLC.
“Generating income in a low-interest-rate environment, and at the same time managing the expectations of individual investors and families, is a big part of what we do,” he said.
“I find that the worse things get, the busier we’ve gotten,” Williams said. “There is more uncertainty out there today. People are looking for a disciplined approach.”
Williams, 40, credits USF with providing a “hands-on, real life” education that helped advance his career.
For anyone considering work as a financial planner, he recommends a finance degree but also some psychology classes or other training to help understand clients.
“You are dealing with people and their life savings,” he said. “Building trust and being able to provide advice at that level — not all brokers and advisers can do that. The ones that are successful, do.”