The story of The Bahnsen Group began with a kid obsessed with history, economics, and politics at the age of five. By 1980, David Bahnsen found himself immersed in the Reagan-Carter election, had received a National Review subscription for his birthday, and was joyfully learning all he could about free markets and business cycles. From a young age, a student of enterprise was born …
As David progressed through elementary school his role model became Alex P. Keaton, a fictional television character who was determined to work on Wall Street and held devoutly conservative views. Not a typical role model, but David was not a typical kid.
Fast forward to the 1990’s … David, having built his own music management business, became obsessed with the stock market, investing personally as his business grew at the same time society was becoming enthralled by the thrill of the “tech bubble.” At age 27, David made the decision to sell his artist representation firm, and now had the confidence, knowledge, and readiness to pursue his childhood dream of a career on Wall Street.
David entered the training program at [then] Paine Webber in the summer of 2001. Working through the aftermath of the dotcom implosion and then the 9/11 terrorist attacks, David built his business in the first of what would be two brutal bear markets that launched the new millennium. Within two years, David was a top new advisor in his class, and began building out a practice as a sole practitioner, slowly adding administrative help. By 2007 he had built the business to a $1 million revenue practice and was being heavily recruited by competitor Wall Street firms.
In May of 2007 David made the move to the prestigious firm of Morgan Stanley, bringing over $100 million of client assets. A year later David would endure the greatest test of his career, as the financial crisis devastated the American economy and financial markets, and even threatened to take down the firm at which David was now a Managing Director.
He guided his clients through that period with no client attrition, and saw that experience serve as an incredible validation of what he believed about financial management. Careful handholding, behavioral modification, and disciplined portfolio decisions were coupled with the two things that became a staple of David’s business – a weekly market commentary, every word written by David, and quarterly client dinners just to “talk markets.”
By 2009 David’s business was the largest in Orange County for Morgan Stanley and would become one of the largest nationwide. He became a Chairman’s Club producer (top 1% of advisors) as well as a Managing Director for the firm. From 2009-2014 he would add seven other people to his team in various support positions. In 2012, Brian Szytel became a pivotal second advisor. Robert Graham was brought on to lead the 401k division in 2013. And in 2014, the highly-pedigreed Kimberlee Davis was hired to a Financial Planning Director role and Deiya Pernas was brought into a key Investment Solutions role. These various hires would become transformative decisions for The Bahnsen Group’s future growth and success.
In late 2014 David began planning the formation of an independent company. This move was stirred from an insatiable desire for greater freedom, a freer voice, and elimination of restraints on organizational structure. For all of The Bahnsen Group’s success growing through large, bureaucratic firms, David knew in a real and tangible way that if he and his team were free of the conflicts, bureaucracy, and inefficiencies of a big firm they could be so much better. After months of due diligence, planning, and preparation, the entire team (now eight-people strong) left together to pursue bigger things.
On April 2, 2015, The Bahnsen Group was born, then with the support of HighTower Advisors, a national firm providing transitional services to “breakaway” advisors. The transition was wildly successful as clients representing $600 million of assets under management joined TBG in this new endeavor. The world of independence worked exactly as planned. TBG now had the right platform to serve clients, freedom to make the right decisions, and most importantly, the autonomy to fully leverage our passion for content creation and thought leadership.
In 2017 TBG opened a satellite office in New York City, the second most active market for clientele. TBG has since grown its New York team to six people with offices located in the heart of midtown Manhattan.
The firm is now managing over $2.1 billion of client assets, and has developed fully-resourced departments in Operations, Investment Solutions, Research, Financial Planning, Communications, and Client Experience, with 25 employees, advisors, and partners. The Bahnsen Group is regularly recognized as one of the top advisors in the country by Barron’s, Forbes, and the Financial Times, and David has become a nationally sought-after financial markets commentator. In 2019 Post Hill Press published his best-selling book, The Case for Dividend Growth, David’s encapsulation of all TBG believes about investing client capital.
The Bahnsen Group is in the early innings of who they want to be. The team is dedicated to one another as well to the clients they serve. They continue to be driven by a saying frequently heard around the office: “It has to be real”.
Real care, real research, real content, real relationships, real commitment, real attention to every detail of our business. And really big plans for the future.