This episode features a conversation with Brad Genser, Founder and CTO at Farther, the first digital family office that pairs expert advisors with intelligent technology to manage your entire financial life in one place. In this episode, Brad discusses the importance of fostering relationships as a leader, managing over a billion dollars in assets, and the valuable lessons he learned in the military, which aided his efforts in founding the next great financial institution.
This episode features a conversation with Brad Genser, Founder and CTO at Farther, the first digital family office that pairs expert advisors with intelligent technology to manage your entire financial life in one place.
At Farther, Brad provides the vision for using technology to deliver an elite wealth experience for clients. Prior, Brad was at Goldman Sachs in New York where he founded and led an Artificial Intelligence team dedicated to Private Wealth, and was an advisor on a team which managed more than one billion dollars in assets for clients. Brad graduated from MIT with an SM in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA. He also graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2007. Brad is a two-time Iraq war combat vet and was awarded two bronze stars.
In this episode of On Point, Brad discusses the importance of fostering relationships as a leader, managing over a billion dollars in assets, and how he received two bronze stars while serving in the Iraq War. Brad also talks about the valuable lessons learned during this time in the military, which aided his efforts in founding the next great financial institution.
“You’re going from doing this huge thing, living at the very edge of life, to starting over and being like the new person who is sitting there pushing paper back and forth. And, I think that adjustment is a very jarring thing. It is not something that is abnormal, but it is something that people need to go through and deal with. The advice here, as I've gone down this journey, is realize that it will take time to adjust to your stage and give yourself time to recover and rest." - Brad Genser
(02:00) Segment: AAR
(03:00) Walking hours
(04:30) Beast Barracks
(09:30) Impactful classes at West Point
(16:15) Fostering relationships with NCOs
(18:45) Mental health suggestions for veterans
(21:30) Segment: Sit Rep
(26:45) About Farther
(30:15) Valuable lessons from the military
(36:00) Segment: SOP
(39:00) Segment: Giving Back
West Point Association of Graduates
On Point Podcast
[00:00:00] Narrator: Hello and welcome to On Point.
This episode features a conversation with Brad Genser, Founder and CTO at Farther, the first digital family office that pairs expert advisors with intelligent technology to manage your entire financial life in one place.
At Farther, Brad provides the vision for using technology to deliver an elite wealth experience for clients. Prior, Brad was at Goldman Sachs in New York where he founded and led an Artificial Intelligence team dedicated to Private Wealth and was an advisor on a team which managed more than one billion dollars in assets for clients. Brad graduated from MIT with an SM in Mechanical Engineering and an MBA. He also graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point in 2007. Brad is a two-time Iraq war combat vet and was awarded two bronze stars.
In this episode of On Point, Brad discusses the importance of fostering relationships as a leader, managing over a billion dollars in assets, and how he received two bronze stars while serving in the Iraq War. Brad also talks about the valuable lessons learned from the military that aid his efforts in founding the next great financial institution.
Now, please enjoy this interview between Brad Genser, and your hosts Tim Hsia and Lance Dietz.
[00:01:34] Tim Hsia: Welcome to on point started by Eddie king, class of 2008. I'm Tim Hsia, class of 2004,
Lance Dietz:[00:01:40] and I'm Lance Deitz, class of 2008.
Tim Hsia: And today we're joined by Brad Genser a 2007 west point grad. Brad, how are you? Great,
[00:01:47] Brad Genser: Tim. Thanks for having me on.
[00:01:49] Tim Hsia: Thanks for, uh, taking the time to meet with Lance and me. Let's get into our first segment AR or for our non-military listeners after action review.
In this segment, we'd like to touch on specifically what other veterans can learn from you, your process, and your journey. Can you please talk about your decision to attend west point? I think
[00:02:04] Brad Genser: a lot of people start like kind of with west point or with the army. I started with the army and I decided that I was 100% locked in, like by middle school, I was like, I wanna be in the army.
I love the idea of service. I love the idea of doing something. Uh, that's pretty cool. I mean, you travel around the world as an army officer, you lead people. It sounded like kind of up my alley. I saw this documentary about west point in seventh grade, and I can clearly remember the opening screen on the cassette tape or like that I put in and I said, that's what I'm doing.
So seventh grade on, I went home to my mom and I said, I'm going to west point. And she was like, oh, oh, okay. No one in the family had been to west point and to her credit, she was very, very supportive of me choosing such a path. And I now realize after a couple deployments and also just like the terribly traumatic experience of like leaving your parents at west point that, um, you know, I asked a lot of them and I really appreciate their support.
[00:02:57] Tim Hsia: point, what type of cadet were you walking hours or top of the class?
[00:03:03] Brad Genser: well, Hey, hang on a second. Those two things are, you can walk hours and also be at the top of the class. I was very purposeful about my time at west point and sort of my goal at west point was to become a really good army officer and also to experience all at west point had to offer.
I really want to challenge myself and, and something you'll [00:03:20] see throughout my history is that I. Fail on the side of biting off more than I can chew. And I did that at west point. You know, I was not the one who was sitting there trying to optimize my way to the top of the class. I was sitting there.
Thinking, how can I challenge myself the most? I was taking Chinese as my language selection. I was taking engineering as my major and really looking to engage, you know, mentally with west point. So sometimes that worked out for me, sometimes it didn't. And I also was learning a lot about the structure of west point.
I mean, all of us here know who have been there, know the kind of pressure that you're under at west point. And you will fail. You will most certainly fail in some way. And I wanted to make sure that I was testing the boundaries of where I fail. One of those boundaries is like, sometimes you disagree with like, it's just Saturday morning inspection, really critical to me becoming an army.
And, you know what, like the tax have their say. And sometimes that say is, yes, it is. And sometimes they give you hours. So I got a few, I walked 15, I walked five from an incident that was like a mass punishment incident, my PLE beer company. And then I got to my first year, made it all the way there and then walked 10 and like some sort of stand that I was making.
against one of my, like classmates on regimental staff, Brad real
[00:04:27] Lance Dietz: quick beast barracks. So both Tim and I. We're probably below average. I think I got a C for my military grade for beast barracks. Curious how you were
[00:04:37] Brad Genser: in beast. I was like a, a C maybe a C plus the type of guy. The interesting thing of my path in west point is I really was figuring out a lot and learning a lot is I went through.
And if you look at my trajectory, I went from being like a pretty average ish cadet. And for anyone listening, who doesn't go to west point west point is extremely good at identifying. As being like average below [00:05:00] average or above average, and they will tell you at every juncture. So it's not. You're listening to this and you're saying like, oh, what an average person?
Like, they just are forced ranking you into that. But as I went through, I was just continuing to get better at learning about west point learning about myself. And, you know, by the time I was firsty, you know, I was a Buckner platoon leader out of cadet field training, and I was getting a military, a and I think that was also in the academic side.
I'd really gotten. Handle around on myself. Some of that was just, just learning. We come in all different forms to west point and meet the same rock . So you can decide to form yourself into something different or, uh, continue to fight the rock. That way, a
[00:05:38] Tim Hsia: lot of guests have talked about this ranking of where you stand and how, at least this was when I was a cadet, you'd go outside a classroom and see your grades compared to every everyone else.
And for other older grad, they said that they went into the Sally ports. And they had a massive chart that showed the entire class and where they stood. Was that the case for oh eight or did the core already, like standards fall by the time a few after I
[00:06:02] Brad Genser: left. Well, Tim obviously like the standards after you left in oh four, it was all downhill from there.
I mean, I guess you were firsty when I was a plea. So we were able to carry on. We knew what excellence looked like at that. But obviously very bad. No. I mean, they post your scores at all things at all times. Well, one thing I don't think the military does well, and I think there's this constant tension there.
You can really get comfortable in a track and engineer your way to being liked very high in the class. And I guarantee you, there are people who are in the top five of the class and every year who didn't really challenge themselves and who didn't actually like learn as much as someone who may have been [00:06:40] 20th, 30th, 50th in the.
And that's sort of a sad result. I think there's a constant tension in the military too, between being a Garrison officer and being a combat officer, being a combat officer is more of a jazz. Being a Garrison officer is more of a, I dunno like a spreadsheet. those two things are probably comparable. So I think there is a tension between how much are you challenging yourself?
How much are you testing the boundaries and free styling and sort of gaining judgment that does not always align with class. This
[00:07:09] Tim Hsia: podcast already started out very similar to Stan and Crystal's podcast. Stan and crystal was like, I was a terrible cadet. I figured things out. And you know, I was clearly a better officer than I was a cadet.
It's interesting how things that are measured are not always indicative of what is actually important.
[00:07:28] Brad Genser: Yeah. I, I walk around with something here at farther. I walked around with it at west point. It may be because of west point. I'm very attuned to the fact. Today is the last May 16th that I get to live in 2022.
It's the only one. And at west point there's much more to the education than just military physical and academic. You also are learning how to be a person you're building your life. You are building friends of a lifetime. There's no sheet that says, Hey, you are ranked first at building friends for a lifetime and being with them.
And I think that's actually unfortunate because I think people tend to optimize towards the metrics that they can see. But meanwhile, I sit here as you know, 15 years down the line from graduating and I do have those friends and I see them often and we share stories and I would never trade any of. Did you think like that
[00:08:19] Lance Dietz: going into [00:08:20] west point or was that something that sort of evolved as you were there in terms of your thought
[00:08:24] Brad Genser: process around that I've always had this sense of urgency that's sort of baked in.
So I went to an all boys Catholic military high school, which is like, you know, the trifecta of sort of religion and suffering. At the time I arrived at west point, I was there for like very advanced in sort of navigating, you know, what is core to this religion. And west point has a lot of religious aspects to.
And what is sort of built up on top of it, maybe sort of added interpretations that people did came later. So I think I was able to navigate as much as a freshman can. I'm much better at now navigate what's most important and what's not. And I said, there is competition for my time here, and I do only have one life.
And certainly in the time that we were at west point, people would get up there at lunch and announced that people who graduated just a year ago had died in. That is a very tangible reminder. This may be your last kind of Harrah here. You better make the most of.
[00:09:19] Tim Hsia: That's um, that's powerful. And, and I also remember that, uh, were there any particular classes that were super impactful on you or any experiences in general?
[00:09:28] Brad Genser: So I, I think this goes a lot into the people aspect. I was a mechanical engineering major and to the point of what I said earlier about challenging myself, I actually started out as a physics major. I actually love physics. I still like will like read about quantum physics and stuff like that because it's just wild.
I mean, there's stuff going on in there that ultimately the conclusion is just like, we don't. And that is one very hopeful to me. There are things that we can observe in this universe that we just don't understand yet. And so there's a lot more knowledge to build and that's sort of like a hopeful kind of message I think.
But I arrived at the point [00:10:00] pretty quickly, like, okay, we just actually don't know what's going on. I was like, well, is there something a little more practical here? And I jumped to nuclear engineering and in my nuclear engineering journey, I took Thermo dynamic. And my instructor now, Lieutenant Colonel, Phil root who's with DARPA.
He really sensed something in me and decided that I was worth his time to like mentor and walk along. And I went to mechanical engineering for him to me. I was getting the quantitative kind of knowledge building that I wanted. And I had a mentor who was very. So that class, like, sort of was a turning point.
And, and one of the key turning points is you asked what kind of cadet I was, I was always running experiments to optimize stuff. I think I was taking like a nap because, you know, you get that afternoon nap after you're allowed to keep your door closed. And someone called me and it was then major route.
And it was like, Hey, Bradley, are you coming to, uh, AI today? Which is additional instruction sort of like office hours. And I was. I wasn't planning on it, sir. He was like, whyt you come on down here? so he sort of like pulled me like out of whatever, ridiculous experiment or probably like immature thing I was doing.
It was just like, come on, get yourself together and, and live up to your potential silly tangent
[00:11:13] Lance Dietz: here. Brad, when you napped, did you keep your shoes on one and two? Did you actually break
[00:11:21] Brad Genser: sheets? I'm an experimenter. We do things. I tried it. We all know that there are certain times to break sheets and there are times to kick your shoes off and time to let 'em hang off the bed.
So it's just situationally appropriate. There's no firm rule here besides
[00:11:36] Tim Hsia: major route. Did you have any other mentors at west
[00:11:39] Brad Genser: point? [00:11:40] I plea even yuckier sophomore year sponsor, Colonel art, Scott who ran the dental command there. He was my sponsor at the ice cream social or he and Linda. And. They just took us in and they're the best people.
And I think that there's a common theme amongst my mentors is that like, they're the people I'm not. And I look at them and I say like, I want to be more like them. Art is just art. And Linda are just very big hearted and I tend to be a very kind of intense person, very driven and very much like we'll plow through anything.
And I think art, Phil root are just very thoughtful and help me to like, say like you. Ramming forward is good, but remember you can be, you can be better. You can be more thoughtful than just ramming through a wall. Ramming through a
[00:12:27] Tim Hsia: wall, has yielded some incredible results for the army you received. Um, the bronze star twice.
Could you share a little bit about those
[00:12:35] Brad Genser: awards? There are two types of bronze stars. There's a bronze star for charging machine gun nest and throwing grenades into. That's for valor. That was not me. There's a bronze star for service, which is more like, Hey, you were sort of in this exceptional time and did some exceptional work.
Like many, many people have received those awards who went to Iraq. And my characterization of it, like when I came out of Iraq was probably something like, yeah, everyone gets that. But then like everyone didn't get it and not everyone was around during the times that those were being given out. It just happened to be an exceptional time.
A lot of what you'll see or what I'll say about my career is I, I was in the right, right or wrong place. I'm not sure if getting deployed twice is like being in the wrong place or the right place. But I deployed right at the sort of height of the surge, right. At the time that Al-Qaeda was [00:13:20] being pushed out and Iran was pushing in with the Sheia militias.
It was a very interesting turning point in the war. And I'm much more kind. Like thoughtful about the fact that like those kind of things don't happen, uh, as often these days really glad to have been alive during that time and have stayed alive during that time, frankly. We got
[00:13:38] Tim Hsia: connected a decade ago through a west point roommate of mine, PLE your roommate.
Um, and so the long gray line has connected us, even though we didn't know each other at west point, this gentleman, who's a fantastic American soldier. Human is Corey Wallace. And would love for you to chat about your experience with Corey, how you met him, just cuz I think he's just an amazing person.
[00:13:59] Brad Genser: Corey is an amazing person. And Corey is one of those people who I would count as a mentor slash exactly what I needed. And as I go through life, I think about how patient Corey was with me and sort of like now we're getting a theme of like me being inpatient and sort of mentor calming me down. I met Corey.
So just a short story. I was an armor officer. I commissioned out of west point. And to armor did the whole armor basic core stuff. And I got orders to go to Iraq as a replacement. So I was meeting the third infantry division unit that I was in about six months into their 15 month deployment and showing up as a second Lieutenant, which was just like, it was very, very difficult situation because they had had a really rough go of it up to that.
I actually got dropped in within a couple of days of arriving in Iraq. I was actually a platoon leader and I really, for the first few weeks, didn't see my platoon except at night. So I didn't really even know what many of them looked like. It was one of those like situations where they're like, just in case, you're [00:15:00] not thinking of not preparing to be an officer here at west point.
You should prepare because this might happen to you. And I had this like pretty rowdy first deployment came back after nine months. And was like, great. I'm back for a year and a half. And the army was like, no, psych, you're not doing that. And they sent me to another unit to give me another platoon. And I went to gunnery with them one week later.
And Corey Wallace was my commander. So I was like in a state of just having gotten back from this exhausting ordeal in the first time. And I was sitting at gunnery with a brand new platoon, like just me and one other Lieutenant who Mel levy, who was one of my best friends, obviously, because the army issues, you friends situationally and Corey had a very, I think, intense first deployment.
And I, I don't know, he just knew what we needed and did not push us on the things that. Didn't matter and was really communicative about making sure that we were able to sort of rest up before we went back, I spent 10 months at home between deployments, three months of that were in the field with one month at NTC.
And so that was a very rough time. I think for me personally, and Corey was just unbelievably supportive during that. Brad, I'd like
[00:16:15] Lance Dietz: to double click on something in that experience. How was your relationship with NCOs and how did you foster that? During such
[00:16:24] Brad Genser: a challenging time? My first NCOs in my platoon were very testy in that I'd arrived in Baghdad and met them.
They had been through some rough go with leadership. They were sort of suspicious of me and naturally like this butter [00:16:40] bar shows up and it's. Let's charge. Let's go do a raid tonight. And I had to very quickly sort of establish that I was, uh, good at something. And I think that what happened over time is that they really did start to warm up to me.
It wasn't like get a situation where it was like really nice. And my platoon Sergeant was very protective of. Almost against me towards the other NCOs. Eventually we broke through that and I think in like relatively short order, so that was a little bit of a crash course and very testy kind of thing.
And there wasn't a lot of time to like figure it out and get to know them and stuff like that. They were like, we want confidence. We want it right now. And you better get going. And I think that I was able to meet that challenge. I actually still stay in touch. My, my gunner still texts me like occasionally from my first tour.
So your gunner is, you know, for, you're not non-military listeners basically runs the, runs your vehicle while you sit there on the radio and coordinate all the other, the other stuff. And he's constantly like harassing me about something. And I think just another thing to point out contextually. I took over one of the platoons that was featured in thunder run.
So like my platoon grandfather, these people were on their third tour and it was like, Hey, new. Like, what are you gonna teach us? like, it was just an absolute, ridiculous situation, but I learned so much from them. So flip to the second tour, all those people were, were rotating out, almost everyone who had been sitting in training facilities for the rest of the war.
So now all of a sudden I was the one who had all the experience and that relationship was very, very interesting. Well, now that the tables have turned a bit, we need to get you all ready to. And also like, I'm still like kind of recovering from our first deployment. And I gotta say that every one of my NCOs, I think were great people [00:18:20] and we're always coming from a good place, no matter the challenges that they did.
So, and I think that eventually we all met in the middle. I wanna
[00:18:26] Tim Hsia: talk about something that I think is not talked about enough amongst veterans. And so would like to just quickly chat about mental health. And so you've been through a lot in the military. Corey has to. I'm curious, what suggestions do you have for veterans broadly about mental health?
[00:18:44] Brad Genser: That's a serious question, but I'm, I'm actually happy to take it because you're right. People don't talk enough about mental health people talk a lot about PTSD and, and stuff like that. I actually don't think that there is. PTSD here, but people broadly diagnose any sort of stress as like post traumatic stress disorder.
I just think that when I look back at my time in, I, I can like step out a little bit now and look back to from where I am today and say like, gosh, at the end of my army time, and this is sort of, sort of like one of the questions is always like, how do you, how did you leave the army? I was completely blown out like mentally.
Physically, I was like a wreck and it's one of those things where I now have the perspective of like, I had just gone from where I had been dropped into like Baghdad. And they were like, Hey, here, you're running like agriculture setting up all the power lines. And by the way, you're in the middle of geopolitical kind of, uh, mosh pit between Iran and Turkey and, and stuff.
And like, yeah, just go figure that out. And the scale of that was so large. And then you get back from the United States and you become very small, your duties, your responsibilities. And that shift is so jarring in a way. It takes a lot to get used to coming from that like big stage down to [00:20:00] like where regular reality is, extend this.
Even through business school, you're starting over, you are going from like doing this, like this huge thing, living at the very edge of life to starting over and being like the new person. Who is sitting there pushing paper back and forth. And I think that adjustment is a very jarring thing and is not something that is like abnormal, but it is something that people have to kind of go through and deal with.
And I think the, the advice here as I've done this journey is like, realize that it will take time to adjust to your stage and give yourself the time to recover and rest. I don't think that I appropriately like, sort of had the. The right kind of mindset to, to realize that was what was going on as I was making this massive change from the military and the civilian world.
But looking back, I sort of say I was pretty exhausted at the time that I was leaving the military. A lot of people
[00:20:54] Tim Hsia: of our generation know the movie, the hurt locker. And I find a movie to be laughable in many areas, but the segment when actually he comes home and he's at the grocery store and looking at all the options in the grocery store aisle, and then shortly afterwards, he's washing the dishes like that kind of sudden change from having like so much impact on the battlefield to being at home.
It is very jarring, um, to your. Brad, this seems like
[00:21:20] Lance Dietz: a great time to transition to the next segment, which is what we call the sit rep or the situational report, where we talk about what you're doing now and your path from the military to current day. So if you don't mind, could you just give us a quick overview of when you left the military to where you're at now with farther?
[00:21:35] Brad Genser: Sure. So by the way, the army came back in a big way for me. So I had this like [00:21:40] journey in the middle and I say, come back from a big way. Like, this is the deal with the military. They call it service for reason you sign. Say I sign life over to you and they tell you where to go. And that was just the cards that I were dealt.
So I don't hold anything against like the military for this. And they actually came back and sort of did me a solid on my way. My last station was at the pursuit of Monterey in California. And it was just amazing, which if I could stay there, I, for all of my military career, I probably would. So I was sitting there at the pursuit of Monterey and it was very clearly, I was overextended from like a family credit budget.
I was married. I actually had to delay my marriage to go on my second deployment, which was. I'm still married to Amanda who stuck with me through the whole journey, uh, of all of this. And it was time to leave. And I think that was really where I was like, it was time to go focus on my family and figure out what to do.
And the natural F stop for me was business school. I started applying to business schools, Tim that's when I met you. So to talk about good, great mentors. Tim has been a mentor to me for years and years, as I tried to transition, uh, out, I was in Monterey. He was at Stanford and he was doing a dual degree in law and his MBA and was sort of coaching me through the process.
So thank you Tim. A lot, a lot O to your success. Uh, a lot of my success is your own, and I think it was a good. To go to business school. I actually ended up getting into a dual degree program at MIT called the leaders for global operations. It allows you to do an MBA and an engineering degree at the same time, my specialty was mechanical engineering.
So like continuing the theme of, I wanna be challenged. I, if I'm gonna take two years off, I wanna make sure that I pack as much into there as I possibly can at MIT though, I got introduc. Into [00:23:20] Goldman, like just sort of through randomly, I was sort of like poking around at careers and trying to figure out the, the, the world of civilian careers.
And my parents were actually insurance agents. And I was like, is there something like that for post MBA? They seemed like they lived great lives. It really changed the way that our family grew in the circumstances of our family. And I said, that would be a great thing for me, Goldman private wealth met them along the way, continued to stay in touch with them and said, this is what I wanna.
I went to Goldman afterwards, this is effectively being a private wealth advisor. I started there. I sat on a team with over a billion dollars under management. I actually sat, this is another place where mentors are, are important. Lots of knowledge comes down through apprenticeship. Some, I had a very good team.
David Darby sort of said, I will teach you how to do this, but while I was doing. I was trying to grow my own business. And this is a very entrepreneurial kind of thing. You're calling people and asking 'em for their life savings, which, and this is for people like call it 25 million plus and saying, Hey, I'd like to manage your money.
And they're like, cool, cool, cool. Like, nice to meet you. New person who. Doesn't know anything. Um, and I was like, this is gonna be hard. I need to scale this thing. So I built a data platform on my desktop to predict and detect when people had demand for wealth management services. Uh, it turns out that's a very useful thing in the heads of Goldman's wealth management division said, can you do that for the whole organization?
I said, yes, I can. I led a team of qu and engineers in building out a data platform to predict and detect when clients and prospective clients had demand for wealth management. It was just a phenomenal experience. I get to work all across the. Investment banking, asset management, wealth management, and, and it was really just a fantastic place to make a transition.
But this [00:25:00] story of finances has nothing to do with where finance is today. It has nothing to do with like lack of effort or lack of optimization or lack of talent. These are massive organizations now that have to make a change to technology driven operations and to technology Dr. And driven kind of data analysis.
And it's a very hard thing to do. I think it's gonna be easier to do on the. So I set out and had met my co-founder Taylor along the way, who was seeing the problem from more of a FinTech perspective. And we said, we've gotta start the next great financial institution. And here we are farther today real
[00:25:33] Lance Dietz: quick, before we get into farther, when you were building the data platform at Goldman curious what you liked most about it, was it building the team or hands dirty into code, kind of what did you enjoy the most?
[00:25:47] Brad Genser: know, I am a very curious character. I continually suffer from this need to be hands on as well as the need to build a team. The world wants you to be one or the other. And I just, I refuse to bow . At this point, even today, I still write the code for most of our trading systems. I don't know a way that you can do otherwise.
And one of the key tenants in the military that we've learned at west point is you lead from the front. It is important to build the team, to show them that you can actually do the job. It's also important for you to actually understand what's going on. It's anyone can sit there and sort of describe a theoretical kind of thing, but when you're in the weeds, you understand what's going on.
Now, there is a counterbalance there that's. Don't be in the weeds too much. You're growing a team. You need to scale it. And that's a constant tension, but I'm very cognizant of that challenge and, and try to navigate it. So I loved both and I think [00:26:40] both interact with each
[00:26:40] Tim Hsia: other. Oh, I wanna jump in real quick, which is, can you share what farther does?
And so like software for private wealth managers, et cetera.
[00:26:48] Brad Genser: So farther is a financial firm. We are a wealth management firm. Uh, we blend cutting edge technology with advisors. We fundamentally believe that people. Are a part of the future solution. It's not gonna be just a technology solution, even though technology will play a big part.
We want the technology to support what advisors do we focus on high net worth clients, people with significant wealth. And, and this is coming kind of two flavors. Uh, the first flavor that we see a lot of is people who are coming up in their careers. Those people who are kind of the canonical example of someone who is works at a Facebook they're approaching.
Director senior director level and they have a few million dollars. They have kids, they have exploding complexity in, in their financial lives and wealth becomes a team sport then. So that's kind of where we're focused. We are not taking on the same kind of problems that, uh, a lot of earlier, uh, wealth techs were where they were trying to like really push and democratize and did a good job of, of democratizing access to investment management.
We are about the full experience of wealth manage. And
[00:27:49] Tim Hsia: you all build the software and you all manage the software.
[00:27:53] Brad Genser: That is correct. So back to the world wants you to be one or the other. And, um, it is impossible to build great wealth software without participating in the wealth business. And we've always known that we learn faster.
We learn about what clients are, are doing. We learn about how advisors interact with them. And that is just impossible when you're trying to take on one or the other. And at the end of the day, we are entirely focused on our clients. And we [00:28:20] recruit advisors who are very focused on those clients, culturally, because the clients are the ones who make the decisions.
They are the ones who suffer the consequences of our failures and as well as receive benefits of our successes. So really focused on clients, but advisors and technology together are the best solution for that. Amazing.
[00:28:39] Lance Dietz: And what's the quick overview on farther
[00:28:43] Brad Genser: and where you guys are at. So farther is we are in the midst of closing our series a, we have garnered the support of top venture capitalists firms.
Spectrum venture partners led our last round, um, and is going to be leading our series a they backed betterment when they were coming up, they backed United capital before them. And so they know our space. Quite well, Tim is an investor leading VC here, and we appreciate his support. And we're at the point where we're really turning towards growth.
We started in 2019, we've gone from effectively, nothing to we're just approaching 200 million. The markets would cooperate with us then like we could, that would be very helpful to us to a 200 million under management and a very clear path to being much, much greater than that. In many ways, the story of farther and the story of wealth tech is about getting over the start hurdle.
Once you start, it's a business that just continues to grow and, and you continue to accelerate growth because it's a naturally social business, friends of advisors who we recruit, tell their friends of clients, tell clients and, and so forth. So there's a nice kind of snowball effect that we're starting to see.
So I would say that we're, we're making that turn from early stage to being something much more substantial, which is a fun journey. Brad, what
[00:29:59] Lance Dietz: has been most [00:30:00] valuable from the military? When starting farther for you,
[00:30:04] Brad Genser: there's seasons to companies, and there are different skills that you learn in the military.
And I think, you know, the season of starting a company at first is you are the only person, and I'm not saying the only person that's you and your co-founder. Then you have to go out and you have to hire a team. That's gonna expand a little bit, but you're still going to be responsible for a lot of stuff.
I think that there are two things that stick out in, in this phrase. The military is excellent at time management and training you in time management and short things and like being able to rapidly prioritize. And it's very important in the first phases. The other thing that it trains you in is being a little bit humble.
and it goes back to what we talked a little bit about earlier with leading from the front. I hire a lot of people and I, I have people who are coming out of college and saying they wanna work on strategic. I'm like, Hey, I'm the founder of this company. And I still am like, basically, you know, taking out the garbage, like this is how things are built.
And I really appreciate that in the military. The culture is such that you will pick something up. Don't just stand there and, and give a solution, get in there and start doing stuff. And that's very important in the first stage of this company, you're rapidly like really VC funded companies are about finding demand and there's no founder who's been successful.
Who's ever walked out. Like here's my product. And then like the world is just like, oh my gosh, thank you for this product. This is amazing. And then they get a lot of growth. You have to work at it, you have to do experiments. And it is you who is running those experiments. So that's phase one. As we look towards where we are now, we are over 45 people.
We are rapidly growing and we'll likely be more towards a hundred people in the period of about six. and [00:31:40] that is where stuff like how to communicate at scale starts to come in. And the military is outstanding at communicating very complex execution plans. At scale, they have set entire offices up to, to solve this problem.
And I am really gaining the benefits of being able to do that. And it's not just communication about execution. It's also things. Principles in setting up kind of your, I'm gonna say this because in, I don't like it, but, but your commander's top 10. What are you doing? What is everyone orienting towards right now?
And those are very important things. And I'm, I'm sort of just on the other side of that transition where we've started putting those things together. And the military is just phenomenal at solving small problems and large problems. They've done it for a very long time, in a very important context.
[00:32:26] Tim Hsia: You talked about the bias reaction and clearly that's been the case for you and the team at farther.
When we last spoke, you talked about process and operations. You talked about how the backend was very complicated. People think finance is just like moving bits. It's actually much more complicated than that. And then I got the impression then that there were aspects of the military that both of us didn't necessarily like paperwork and process, but that actually probably has
[00:32:54] Brad Genser: helped you.
So my domain is finance and finance is very heavily involved with the government. The government is very heavily involved with finance. It takes on a lot of the same, like kind of feel as what you're trying to like, you know, check out at the property book office or, or CIF or something like that. Being in the military is helped immensely in navigating those types of things.
Everything is a team [00:33:20] sport, and we have a lot of people here who are trying to meet government regulations. and I think in a very good way, and I think you, the military gives you a lot of experience with dealing with people who have very tight non-negotiable demands, and then you trying to figure out what they need and what you need to accomplish the mission of, of whatever you're trying to do.
The military is phenomenal at that and is, is a really great experience for someone who's working in finance and really trying to change the world. I think a lot of people. And the earlier fintechs took more of a Silicon valley approach to wealth tech and FinTech. They're like, we're gonna just Ram through this problem.
The problem is that a lot of the regulations that are on the books, a lot of the laws that are on the books are there for a reason. If you, aren't curious about exploring why those reasons are and trying to meet the regulators in the middle, who are come to work every day with like a pretty good idea of like trying to help people, then you're just shooting yourself in the foot.
And I think that the military sort of helps you frame those conversations a little differently. We also
[00:34:21] Tim Hsia: talked about this in person is that there's aspects of the military that are extremely helpful, but everything is really met TC dependent. And so there are sometimes there are rules that you take away from the military that can backfire.
If you just try to copy and paste it directly into a startup,
[00:34:36] Brad Genser: that's a hundred percent true. I think that one of the things that I always try to remind myself is in the military, you take for granted the fact that you have a very downselected body of people around you. Downselected from the fact that they have raised their hand towards the mission.
One then been filtered and screened for capabilities and trained and, and very well trained at a startup. You start on day one with someone [00:35:00] new, they have not necessarily subscribed to the entire mission. They might be checking it out. They also may not be well trained. And how could they be well trained in what you're trying to do?
You just created this thing not too long ago. What happens in the military is that people will treat failures as moral failures. And they'll say you're failing. It's because you don't care to uphold the standard. And I think that works for, if everyone knows the standard, if everyone doesn't know the standard that doesn't work, you really have to break yourself outta that mindset and into the mindset of first, let's try to help this person and try to make sure they know the standards and then help them try to get to victory and be a little bit more constructive about it.
[00:35:41] Tim Hsia: We unfortunately don't have enough time to talk more about farther and, and where you are right now, but I'm very confident you are going to go much farther. And in the interest of time, let's get into our next segment, which is a standard operating procedure. And that's personal routines, habits, and words to live by that have been instrumental to your success.
What habits or routines did you pick up in the military that you still adhere to?
[00:36:04] Brad Genser: So the military has a habit that they put on everyone and has time management. They box your time very well for you. And I think a lot of people like sort of when they leave the military, they explode outward. I'm still very disciplined about how I allocate my time.
If it does not fit into my calendar. It is not a thing that's happening or that I'm committing to. And that is something that is it's, it drives a lot of very hard kind of conversations. I think that's like something that I carry forward is like, make sure that you allocate the time to, to things. So there's that.
And then I think the other thing is the military's [00:36:40] very big on the whole person and I am also big on the whole person and I play a lot of sports still and work out a lot. And I say a lot, I allocate time to it and I think that's a habit that helps me with the flow of my day. It helps me just be calmer and, and a, a better leader.
So I very much credit the military for making sure that make sure you do your PT, make sure you play sports. You
[00:37:05] Tim Hsia: and Dan and crystal get along very well on that podcast. He was like, I'll get my PT in at 5:00 AM. And if I have a 5:00 AM meeting, then I'll wake up at 4:00 AM. And, um, same as Dan Streetman Dan Streetman CEO of Tipco like multi-billion dollar company and he's like, I will still do my Ironmans.
I will still run with. People who are impaired vision and help them through marathons. So kudos for keeping up with your PT. And this is a deep E approved podcast.
[00:37:31] Brad Genser: Well, the, you know, the downside of this though, our, the, the side of the military that I did not take with me is the military has a culture around sleep that is unproductive.
And I am very, very disciplined about managing my sleep because I have to come in and turn in a banner performance every single day, usually in a very knowledge driven context. So I gotta be thinking it's not just slogging forward with a hundred pound pack and you can do that on two hours of sleep.
That is a different problem. So the problem set is different, but I really make sure that I get my sleep. I understand that I'm giving up the sleep and I'm probably going to be unable to. Technical work for the next few days. And that's the trade off that I, that I make. So I think it's like a little bit of both.
Like the health aspect is you gotta take some of what the military does, but you can't just blindly like, kind of say, I'm also gonna sleep four hours a night because you'll explode. You'll get sick
[00:38:18] Tim Hsia: again. Stanley and [00:38:20] crystal also ha he, he walked through that. He's like, everyone knows me as a person that like eats one meal and sleeps so less.
And like, I actually like really like emphasize how sleep is so
[00:38:29] Brad Genser: critical now. I actually almost never get. And that is largely because of sleep when I do get sick it's because I did not sleep. It's almost like, you know, it's a flash bang. Like I stayed up all night working on something I'm sick in two.
Brad, let's move to our,
[00:38:46] Lance Dietz: our last segment, which is what we call giving back. Um, very curious, like, what's your advice for someone, um, who's leading the military or thinking about a startup or transitioning in their civilian career that you would give to them based on your experiences.
[00:39:00] Brad Genser: The common pattern that I see of people getting outta the military is that they're like, I've done this great thing, and that is correct that you have done a great thing and I should therefore do another great thing.
And it takes some time to readjust. And I would say. It's actually quite normal. You spent, particularly for officers, you spent the last decade of your career training towards a single job. You're an expert in your field, but that field does not exist in the civilian world. And you need to take the appropriate time to gain experience and, and readjust or realize that you are taking an approach that may not have an easy path for you specifically.
When I think of like my path, I had leadership, that was like the context of the military. I knew nothing about finance. I went to a place like Goldman and learned a lot about finance. I went to business school to learn about well business and that's important. And if you think about what my job is today, venture capital founding company is not about just product and operations.
I sit there on calls, where I walk through spreadsheets with professional investors [00:40:00] day in and day out. And they're asking the question, can this company be a 10 billion plus company? And. That is not something that you can freestyle. There's nothing in the military that has like prepared you for that kind of situation.
So I'd say like you have all the leadership skills, just be a little patient and as you transition and try to get some experience that fills out those gaps and try to find the people who will fill those gaps. Yeah.
[00:40:24] Lance Dietz: It sounds like you've done an incredible job surrounding yourself with a great network and taking advantage of opportunities.
So a little bit. Planning, but being able to flex from the plan based on the situation as we talked about with the military and how it translates into the corporate world
[00:40:40] Brad Genser: as well, there's a lot there from the military that is, is applicable. You know, we're impatient and we want things to happen now. And it's a, it's a rotation into the civilian world and
[00:40:50] Lance Dietz: aligns well with finance, that long term compounding you just can't beat.
Brad, this has been absolutely amazing. There's so much more for us to dive into, so we're definitely gonna have you back, but really appreciate you making time know your busy building, a company raising around. So just thanks so much from Tim and I, and I think the listeners are gonna
[00:41:07] Brad Genser: really love this.
Well, thanks Tim. And, and thanks, Lance. I really appreciate you having me on this thing that we do. I mean, we've all shared this experience of going to west point. I think we're all trying to figure it out. I hope that someone out there, some future Brad, some future Tim, some future Lance can gain something from this.
[00:41:25] Narrator: This has been a production of the WPA, a OG broadcast network. Please take a moment to rate and review the show and join us each week for a new episode. Thank[00:41:40]