Stakeholder Spotlight

Life as a BW Client: Dr. Bronner Handwerger

Posted on July 14, 2021

One of the greatest rewards of being a financial advisor is becoming friends with my clients, like Bronner H., who practices medicine in San Diego. Just one or two sentences simply cannot do justice to my relationship and friendship with “DocBron,” who was referred to BW by his CPA. Bronner has been a tremendous BW client and my trusted friend for more than a decade, and he’s also my fearless SCUBA diving buddy. 

Bronner is brilliant in his field and has an incredible passion for serving his patients and helping them live healthier, purposeful lives. His approach to health management is the same approach I take to wealth management; proactive and holistic. We both agree that health is wealth, and wealth is health.

From an early age, Bronner’s calling to take care of people led him to medicine. His journey to being a doctor was circuitous, first taking him to several countries where he worked with indigenous peoples before going to medical school. Bronner’s approach to medicine includes all aspects of a person – mind/body/spirit – and as a naturopathic medical doctor he combines the best of conventional and natural medicine, focusing on preventative measures rather than reactive methods.

Bronner’s patient roster includes professional athletes, navy seals, and regular folks, and his areas of interest are regenerative orthopedics and endocrinology. His goal for each patient is to restore their vitality so they can live life to the fullest. His tireless efforts are based on his belief that he needs to earn his money, not just blindly charge patients for unnecessary tests or procedures. And his tireless efforts win the trust of his patients, which is vital.

Just like BW, but unlike most medical practices, Bronner offers a fee schedule so his clients know exactly what they’ll pay, and he helps them save money wherever they can. As part of his holistic approach, he works with each patient to optimize their insurance offerings or to charge less than what they’d pay out-of-pocket, because considering every aspect of his patient’s life is the basis of his personal and business success.

Bronner likes to say, “A doctor should do what’s best for the patient, not what’s mandated by the insurance company.” Like BW, Bronner is dedicated to providing concierge-level service to his patients, and he’s found they respond by taking charge of their health.

When Bronner came to BW 12 years ago, his financial health was disorganized. That’s how he describes it: disorganized. I had to earn his trust in the beginning, which is understandable. Most people have concerns when they first start working with a financial advisor.

For Bonner, his mistrust ran deeper. He watched his father, a successful dentist, manage his own investing over the decades and, in the end, have nothing, leaving his family in debt. As a young man, Bronner learned from his father that the stock market can’t be trusted. Money managers can’t be trusted. Investment organizations and institutions can’t be trusted.

The oldest of five boys, Bronner left home at 17, carrying those beliefs with him as he worked in New York at odd jobs, including flipping burgers and lifeguarding. From his teenage years, he was on his own and never received anything from anybody.

To work with me, Bronner had to let go of his mistrust, relinquish control, and hear what I was telling him. By the time he became my client, he had earned great money and had substantial savings, but he was a “serial saver” and kept his money in savings accounts and coffee cans, fearful of putting it into the market. To his credit, Bronner gave up control, allowing me to make his investments. Over the years, his money has worked hard (and efficiently) for him.

Bronner told me, “You helped me understand that because of inflation, I’m losing money by keeping it in savings accounts where the market can’t work for me, which essentially means I’m losing 3% a year. Early on, BW structured our family plan, including my medical practice, creating a family trust, and starting 401ks. That’s when I saw what smart wealth-handling can do. You are like I am with my patients; we’re both engaged with our clients.”

Bronner’s family has seen the value of using BW for their personal and business finances. His wife works at his medical practice, as does his daughter. When they became clients of BW, Bronner had medical school debt, a mortgage, and a young family.

Not very long ago his 18-year-son paid BW the greatest compliment; he told Bronner that when he begins earning money from being an entertainer, he plans to place his earnings with BW.

Bronner told me recently, “Because of my past trauma around money, I’ve still lost some financial opportunities, but I’m getting better with it. You and my wife are helping.” As a financial advisor, I’m always looking for ways to help clients with beliefs that might limit their possibilities, and Bronner is a great client because he now trusts what I say. 

Bronner summed up our advisor/client relationship when he said, “You took the time to know me, my beliefs, and how I think. You don’t push, you simply give me time to process what you’re recommending. And that’s exactly what I do with my patients. My job is taking care of people, not watching the market, so I’ve learned to trust your expertise.”

My friendship with Bronner has been a huge gift. We learn from each other and are energized by our similar outlook on life, and our drive to serve others. Oh, and as a head’s up, don’t be surprised if one day you see me and DocBron together on video discussing how health is wealth and wealth is health!

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