In a former life, Bob Bruce interviewed presidents and kings, covered the Olympics and a terrorist bombing, and was a fixture in people's living rooms. In his new life, which began in earnest in December, he gets a kick from just being able to hand out his business card telling the world he's a financial advisor.
Bruce, 56, the longtime morning and noon news anchor at Pittsburgh's NBC affiliate, WPXI-TV, did his final broadcast on December 18. He didn't think he'd be emotional when it came time to say goodbye to a 37-year broadcasting career, the last 13 of which he spent in the Steel City. Everything was fine on that Friday morning show until the traffic person started to cry during the goodbyes. "I kind of lost it," says Bruce. "I guess the finality of ending a lifetime of doing something ... ," his voice trailing off.
"It's not like I was sorry to leave or anything," he continues. "When I woke up on Saturday morning it was like a huge weight was off my shoulder. I no longer had to be quiet about my business. And I no longer had to get up at 3:25 a.m. every morning. I feel like I'm 100% reborn."
Prior to leaving WPXI, Bruce had been moonlighting as an advisor since the late-1990s. He got the bug for the business through a financial advisor acquaintance he knew while working at a television station in Phoenix. He had been doing his own investment management, and the process of helping others reach their financial goals fascinated him.
The road to advisordom unfolded in Pittsburgh when, after an unhappy first year at his new station, Bruce realized that broadcasting careers don't last forever and he started pondering the next phase of his life.
He became determined to learn the business, and began working at various local advisory firms that sponsored him while he got his securities licenses, set him up with a broker-dealer and showed him the ropes. When he hung out his own shingle nearly seven years ago, he felt compelled to keep it hush-hush because he didn't know how the station would react.
"It was always don't ask, don't tell," says Bruce. "Fortunately, they were fine about it when I announced my retirement, but it may not have been like that at the time. It was a risk I had to take."
With the shackles off, Bruce is free to broadcast his new gig to the world. "I can actually now do client events and be in public [as an advisor]," says Bruce. "Just handing out my card is a big thrill because I couldn't do that before."
His firm, Integrity Wealth Consulting LLC in the Pittsburgh suburb of Wexford, Pa., has roughly 110 clients and $40 million in assets under management. Bruce's son Scott handles the administrative chores and eventually hopes to become an advisor. The firm also employs Bruce's former co-anchor at WPXI, Newlin Archinal, who left the station in late 2007, got her securities licenses and is now building her practice from scratch.
On The Move
Bruce's broadcast career began when he was a student at Memphis State University, where he majored in radio, television and film. He wanted to be a sportscaster, and while still in school got a job as a student cameraman for the NBC affiliate in Memphis.
After he got some on-air experience at a small radio station in Mississippi, the NBC station called after a year and asked Bruce to audition as a weekend weatherman. He didn't want to report on the weather, but he saw it as an opportunity to get his foot in the door.
Bruce became the station's full-time weekend sportscaster for $250 a week. "I was 20 years old and on air in the nation's 40th-largest market," he says. "I'm always looking at the next step no matter what I'm doing, and even though Memphis is my hometown and the only place I wanted to be, I knew the guy in front of me would be there for 40 years. In fact, that's what happened."
Bruce never finished college. Instead, he launched a hopscotch odyssey across the U.S. broadcasting landscape that took him to Dallas, Omaha, Minneapolis, Oklahoma City, Phoenix and, ultimately, Pittsburgh.
Along the way, he made a couple of risky moves to further his career. Like when he left a $50,000 job as the full-time weekend sportscaster in Dallas in the late-1970s to become the sports director at a TV station in Omaha at half the pay. From there, he became the top sports guy at KSTP-TV in Minneapolis.
"I'm there about eight years, and I'm seeing ESPN grow and I realize that doing six minutes a night with 13 people isn't going to last," Bruce says. "So I tried to figure out a way to get into news there. Plus, the news guys make more money."
As part of the transition, Bruce took over a program called "Twin Cities Live," an hour-long Phil Donahue-type talk show with a live audience of about 100 people that aired at 9 a.m. "I went from interviewing Minnesota Vikings players one day to hosting a show that dealt with female bladder infections," he says. "During the next four and a half years on that show I interviewed people from Jimmy Carter to Shirley MacLaine, and did whole shows dedicated to topics ranging from chocolate to various medical procedures. During that time it was like getting five college educations."
Meanwhile, Bruce also anchored the morning newscast. But he wanted to be a nighttime news anchor in a big market, and he sensed it wasn't going to happen in Minneapolis. Similar to what he did when he went from Dallas to Omaha, Bruce went to a smaller market at roughly half the pay to angle himself for his ultimate goal. He left Minneapolis and signed a two-year contract to be a nighttime news anchor in Oklahoma City.
Two years later, he got his big-market nighttime anchor job at the CBS affiliate in Phoenix, KSAZ-TV. While there, he won an Emmy for best live news event when he covered a flood in sun-baked Scottsdale.
It appeared Bruce's wandering had come to an end in Phoenix. "I was going to be there the rest of my life," he says. That is, until Ron Perelman and Rupert Murdoch made a deal in 1994 to switch 12 Perelman-controlled CBS affiliates-including the one in Phoenix-to the Fox network for $500 million and certain programming rights.
The affiliation switch jumbled everything from programming to viewership, and Bruce wanted a more stable situation. He says he had an audition to go back to KSTP in Minneapolis. "The news director in Phoenix said they wanted me to stay but if I wanted to go, I could," he says. "I gambled on the Minnesota job."
But he lost the bet when they decided the viewers would remember him as a sports guy and not a news guy. It wasn't what he wanted and he was left in limbo. Around that time, WPXI in Pittsburgh called and offered him the morning news job with a possibility of becoming the evening news anchor. "Once they saw the growth of the morning program, they wanted to keep me there," Bruce says. "I agreed, but only after a new contract with a nice raise."
Building a Practice
Bruce had worked with a financial advisor in Minnesota, but ditched him and started managing his own money. While in Phoenix, he attended a charity function and met an advisor named Dan Bott, a founding member of the Institute for Investment Management Consultants, which later merged into the Investment Management Consultants Association. They started talking about money management, and Bruce let Bott manage his money because he had access to some smart money managers. "I got more fascinated with the business" during that time, says Bruce.
Part of the appeal came from commonalities between journalism and financial planning. "This type of work is like old-time TV news when we did in-depth stories and tried to solve problems for people versus just breaking news about fires and other stuff," says Bruce. "With this job, you have to get all of the parameters and facts and boil them down to put together a plan for them."
After he moved to Pittsburgh and was initially unhappy at his new job, Bruce says Bott tried to get him to come back to Phoenix and work at Bott's firm. "He wanted me to work at his practice and to build on my notoriety, but I couldn't do it financially," he says. "I was making too much money to leave and build a book of business from scratch."
But Bott suggested that if Bruce wanted to get into the business, he should find a small practice in the Pittsburgh area to sponsor him while he got his securities license.
"I told him there were a lot of different ways to go into this industry and to identify what exactly he wanted to do." Bott says, "He's definitely the kind of guy who applies himself when he makes up his mind to something. He's got a lot of drive and discipline"
Bruce worked at a few advisory firms over several years, and through those affiliations he says he was able to "ride other people's coattails" to establish affiliations with SEI, the asset management outsourcing company where he currently does most of his business, and with Commonwealth Financial Network, his current broker-dealer.
Meanwhile, Bruce got his Series 7 and 65 licenses, along with his Certified Financial Management Consultant and Certified Investment Management Analyst designations. He was taught by professors of both Wharton and the University of Chicago School of Business in programs sponsored by IMCA, and went to industry conferences on his vacations.
Bruce was now a financial advisor, but he had to lay low because he didn't want his TV bosses to know. That meant no advertising and no leveraging of his status as a media personality. Not that that necessarily would've helped attract clients.
"One guy told me that my business would never be successful because no one would take me seriously until I got out of TV," says Bruce.
Like a lot of newbie advisors, Bruce looked to relatives and friends to establish clients. He says some clients held off awhile until he proved he had staying power as an advisor. But thanks to his peripatetic broadcasting career, Bruce had various contacts both locally and throughout the country who he thought could help kick his business into a higher gear.
"I didn't have any minimums, but I looked to a lot of key people who were friends who I knew could lead me to other people," says Bruce. "There's one critical client for me who at the time was someone I identified as a star who'd work his way up the ladder. He didn't have a lot of assets then, but I looked at his position, who he was, the kind of person he was, and who he was going to be."
His scouting report on that person paid off. "He [Bruce] approached me and was willing to work with me long before I had investments and a portfolio that would interest most investment advisors," says Joe Pajer, now president and chief operating officer at Vocollect Inc., a maker of hands-free voice products for the workplace and a Bruce client since 1999. "After I sold my company, a lot of advisors called to congratulate me and, of course, try to get my business. But I had already worked with Bob a few years by then.
"I've been through a lot of business and life situations the past ten years," Pajer continues. "There are times when you need to be more aggressive or conservative, and I think he does a good job of matching the investment strategy with the needs of your life at a particular time."
Pajer says he has recommended many clients to Bruce over the years.
Baptism By Fire
In some ways, going from broadcasting to financial planning wasn't a stretch for Newlin Archinal, Bruce's former co-anchor at WPXI who has worked at Integrity Wealth Consulting for about a year. "It's similar to what I did out of college, which was guiding and educating people," she says.
After Archinal graduated from Ithaca College, her first job was at WILM-AM, an all-news radio station in the Wilmington, Del., market. She was a morning news anchor, as well as a business editor covering the gamut from Fortune 500 company bankruptcies in Wilmington to personal finance and small business.
Archinal, 40, left radio for news jobs at TV stations in Presque Isle, Maine, and Richmond, Va., before she landed in Pittsburgh in 1999.
In 2007, WPXI decided not to renew her contract. "I was never given a concrete reason why," Archinal says. "I was told several things. I think they just wanted to make a change. Cost-cutting may have been part of it."
During a get-together with friends after she lost her job, Archinal wondered aloud what she was going to do and a friend said she thought Archinal would be a good financial planner. "The minute she said that a lightbulb went on," Archinal says.
Bruce also thought she could be a good planner. He invited Archinal to come into the office to learn the business and offered to sponsor her while she studied for her securities licenses. When Archinal decided she liked the business, she officially joined the practice.
"I never wanted to be a lone wolf," says Bruce. "I like having a team around me and I work better when I can bounce ideas off people."
And it helps that they trust each other. "He's like the brother I never asked for," Archinal says, "and he jokes I'm the little sister he didn't need but now has."
That said, Integrity Wealth Consulting is Bruce's baby. "I think we'll look for opportunities to market the firm as a team, but Bob has his business and I'm trying to build my book of business," Archinal says. "It's been a struggle. It's been a baptism by fire. "
Archinal's public profile hasn't necessarily resulted in a flood of new clients, but she says it facilitates the dialogue by opening doors and creating a sense of trust among prospective clients. "My calendar is filled with opportunities to go out and remind people I'm doing something new," she says. "In hindsight, everything happens for a reason, and I'm glad [losing the TV job] happened because it gave me a chance to pursue something I'm passionate about."
In Bruce's perfect world, his firm would be "multi-generational" in that each member would focus on different age groups and types of clients. Bruce's ideal clients are young executives, roughly between the ages of 35 to 45 years old, who are professionally and financially on the move. "I look for growers and the excitement of guys on the upswing and in the midst of life," he says.
Bruce envisions Archinal attracting female executive clients and focusing on retirement planning. Archinal, who recently got her Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor certification, is keenly interested in the latter area. "It's a passion of mine born of family experience where I've seen people have the inability to live their desired lifestyle due to misinformation and poor investments," she says.
And Bruce hopes that his son Scott, 27, will attract a younger group of up-and-comers with good jobs who are starting to establish themselves in life. "I'm getting to the point where most of my clients have a minimum of $500,000," says Bruce, adding that his firm makes exceptions for promising young clients.
Scott started working for his father after graduating from Duquesne University. While serving as the firm's chief operations analyst, he is learning the planning side of the business by shadowing his father when he's with clients, asking questions and talking strategy.
"Within a year or two, I want to start working with a few clients to start building my own portfolio and my own clients," says Scott, who holds the Series 7 and 66 registrations.
Bruce says Integrity Wealth Consulting is a mainly fee-based business that takes a holistic approach to financial planning and uses a range of financial vehicles. That includes ETFs, separately managed accounts and alternative investments such as private REITs and hedge funds. And he'll use a small amount of annuities to create a steady income stream.
"It's all about getting the right mix," says Bruce. "If you leave out one of the tools, it won't be a complete package."
With his full energies now devoted to financial planning, Bruce says he's excited about solidifying his businesses practices. "I tell people that when I built this business I did it like a man running through a forest fire," he says. "Over the past couple of years, with help from Commonwealth, I'm trying to build a good business foundation. I'm excited about doing a marketing calendar because I've never been able to do one."
But Bruce and Archinal aren't putting their old broadcasting skills into storage. They plan to make videos on various financial topics to be showcased on a section of the firm's Web site called IWC-TV.
"I see it as a mini-TV station where clients can go to learn about various financial topics," says Bruce. "It's a combo of YouTube and finances. The industry has to evolve to learn how to market to that generation of people who want information now and don't want to wait for something in the mail."
And with this new TV venture, the best part is that Bruce doesn't have to get up at 3:25 a.m. to do it