Fred Hubler: “To develop resilience keep your eyes open for the lessons you learn”

Keep your eyes open for the lessons you learn. If you have a business that is not doing well, your business will tell you why it’s not doing well. If you have a relationship that is not healthy and you look into it hard enough, the relationship will tell you what is not working. I […]

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Keep your eyes open for the lessons you learn. If you have a business that is not doing well, your business will tell you why it’s not doing well. If you have a relationship that is not healthy and you look into it hard enough, the relationship will tell you what is not working.

I had the pleasure to interview Fred Hubler. Fred is an accomplished financial advisor with more than 18 years of experience in the financial services and technology industry. He is the Founder of Retainer-based Academy, located in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania. To learn more about Retainer-based Academy, please visit

Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?

Istarted out in corporate America working at a Fortune 500 information technology company. After being an employee there for a couple of years, I decided I wanted to move into financial services. I ended up quitting my job to become a financial advisor and six months later I got my license. During this time period, 9/11 occurred. I began being a financial advisor at a very significant starting time. I lasted two years working for a national brokerage firm before moving out on my own.

Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?

I started working in the financial sector in 2001, which was an unfortunate time for our country both emotionally and economically. No one knew what to do, and it was obviously very tough to have people invest when a historical tragedy just happened. Things weren’t going too great. I got divorced, had to sell my Corvette and I ended up moving into a smaller house. Along the way, I realized my landlord seemed to be doing pretty well for himself, financially. One Wednesday when he came over to clean my office, I asked him how he made his money. In return, he asked me, “What is the most profitable thing you can sell as a financial advisor?” This question changed everything about how I was running my business. My landlord told me, “If you can get really good at something that adds value to your clients while still bringing your own, unique characteristics to the table, you can be very successful.” This was the opposite of what I was used to, as I went from being a jack of all trades to specializing in something that truly helps people, but also benefits my own career as well. From this experience, I took away that if I want to do something, if I want to have a different level of success, I can’t take the road everyone else is taking because I’ll never break away from the pack. I’ll never stand out. It’s important to offer something different and valuable, and this has made a huge difference in both of my businesses, Creative Capital Wealth Management and Retainer-based Academy.

What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

The two factors that make my businesses stand out are advice and access. Something unique about my company is that I do not require clients to buy anything from us. Instead, we give them advice. My team puts together a proposal with a retainer price and retainer proposition stating what we will accomplish in a specific time frame. This advice element is missing from many other financial advisors. Other financial advisors are selling a product and hoping you buy it so they can make a commission. The second part of this is access. Most of our clients are going to be accredited investors, as that’s who’s attracted to advice-led planning. We provide accredited investors with access to true accredited investments. Most people are not aware that this asset class exists, but if they are aware, they want to work with a company that provides access to the asset class.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?

While I was working at the national brokerage service trying to figure out my career plan, my landlord provided great insight. His lesson was the first that really gave me that “aha” moment. Second, looking at how companies like Apple and Tesla adds value in a unique approach impacted my thought process. I had the flash idea that to really make an impact in your business, you have to be different, yet good, at the same time. Offering a service many others are offering won’t get you anywhere, but neither will offering a unique service that isn’t actually useful. Providing something different, but also valuable, is how you can make an impact.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience? What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?

I used to have a Jack Russel Terrier and I always liked to say, if you looked up resilience in Webster’s Dictionary, you would see my dog. There were times I’d try to steal a bone out of my dog’s mouth, and he would not let go. I could pick him up and he would just swing in the air because he was determined to get that bone. I’m sure he did not consider himself the smallest dog in the room even though others would have. Resilience is when you keep going after everyone in the room believes that you have lost. Resilience is reaching the empty signal on your gas tank, but continuing to drive. When I got divorced and had to downsize, I realized these were all stepping stones to what’s to come. A friend of mine said something to the effect of, “failure is not an option.” You have to keep going before you see anything turn around. Some traits of resilient people are that they can be stubborn. They don’t care what others think, and they stay true to themselves. It’s important to be confident in where you’re going and how you’re getting there. In my own office, changing to a retainer-based planning model took a lot of resilience. Not everyone was 100% in it. At first, there was a lot of questioning on if this was a good idea because no one else was doing it. This was a monumental moment for us because we did it anyway and we went all in, and this really made all the difference.

When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?

I grew up in the 80’s and there was never a time that I was not inspired by Phil Collins. The man was everywhere doing everything. He was very inspirational and was a great role model for me growing up. He showed that even though he was successful, if you don’t keep that momentum up, someone or something will take it over. Resilience for me is always working hard, even when you have it all.

Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?

More recently, the difficulty was switching to a financial model that the industry had yet to embrace and starting with advice first. People have really questioned how I do this. We want to give advice on the bigger picture. Part of me likes the fact people thought it wouldn’t work because now we’re in 15 states and I’m getting national recognition for our model.

Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?

Around the time of 9/11, I was questioning all of the decisions that had to be made in order to succeed in the finance industry. This period of my life started off on a very interesting path and it was extremely frustrating for me, especially going through a divorce and losing my income. The setback during that time was not making money. I changed my entire career to do something that wasn’t needed at the time because no one was investing money. I witnessed another stomach punch because my mother shared with me that she received results of breast cancer. After all of this bad news, I was living with my dog and a drum set because that’s all I had left from the divorce. My house was exponentially smaller than my previous and I had to get rid of my Corvette because I could not afford the payments. This really was not a high point in my life, but during this time, I was able to focus on my business. I decided to call a local radio show and asked if I could be a heavy sponsor for a few days. The price to participate was $4,997, but I only had $5,000 in my checking account. It was all one setback after another. I ended up investing in the commercial and received 1,200 phone calls in my tiny row home in Phoenixville, Pennsylvania.

Did you have any experiences growing up that have contributed to building your resiliency? Can you share a story?

There are moments in everyone’s life where they can either stand up or step off. With that being said, when I was not doing well working for the brokerage firm and then my mother told me she had breast cancer, I made the decision to go independent. This sparked my idea to pay for the expensive ad. I really wanted to build something successful before my mother was expected to pass just so she could see that I was going down the right path. Luckily, she saw me get remarried, have kids, move into a larger house and create a successful business.

Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.

  1. Number one is do not care what people think.
  2. Number two is think it through. Think about what the best possible outcome is, and see what lessons you can take away from this.
  3. Three is keep your eyes open for the lessons you learn. If you have a business that is not doing well, your business will tell you why it’s not doing well. If you have a relationship that is not healthy and you look into it hard enough, the relationship will tell you what is not working.
  4. Number four is everything takes time.
  5. Number five is the easy answer is very rarely the right answer and the right answer is rarely the easy answer.

I think all of these steps were practiced by myself when I was going through that hard time in my life. After the divorce, the occurrence of 9/11, working at the brokerage firm, my mother’s breast cancer and having to downsize my lifestyle, there really wasn’t any other option but to be resilient.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

I would love to see people be more open-minded. If people could at least understand other’s points of view, they do not have to agree with it, but just attempt to understand it. The world we live in is beginning to be very myopic. From a local standpoint, I think we have to embrace compromise. Working together is really how we are going to get stuff done.

We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them 🙂

I would have to invite Phil Collins out to breakfast. He was much more than a musician to me. I was a young man becoming a man that I felt a connection with. He was not your typical rock star, as he was bald, a little pudgy and rather short. This is something that resonated to me, as growing up, young kids never liked who they are in high school and what they look like. It was nice to see a superstar who looked like an everyday guy. I followed his career when I felt like giving up and I looked at how he was able to accomplish his goals.

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