Learn

Sensible Money Ranks on Inc. 5000 List of Fastest-Growing Companies

Dana Anspach

August 24, 2022

Dana here.

We, as a firm, received an incredible honor this August. We found out Sensible Money ranks among the 2022 Inc. 5000’s list of fastest-growing privately owned companies in America.

As the founder, I’m a bit awe-struck that we’ve been able to take our work from myself and one and a half employees to the fifteen-strong and growing team we have today.


I never set out to grow fast and furiously, nor did I set a goal to rank as one of America’s fastest-growing companies. However, I did set other goals – values-based goals. And I believe our success results from those guiding principles. Let me share the back story.

My career in financial planning began in 1995 with Waddell & Reed, a firm that had a nationwide cadre of sales representatives selling mutual funds and insurance products. I was one of those reps.

Clients would ask me questions such as whether it would be better to use extra monthly money to pay down their mortgage or invest it. The company taught us slick, sales-based responses titled toward investing as the answer. It irked me that we didn’t have a mathematical way to model it and discuss the pros and cons. And my nagging conscience kept me from providing glib, scripted answers.

I never set out to grow fast and furiously, nor did I set a goal to rank as one of America’s fastest-growing companies. However, I did set other goals – values-based goals. And I believe our success results from those guiding principles. Let me share the back story.

My career in financial planning began in 1995 with Waddell & Reed, a firm that had a nationwide cadre of sales representatives selling mutual funds and insurance products. I was one of those reps.

Clients would ask me questions such as whether it would be better to use extra monthly money to pay down their mortgage or invest it. The company taught us slick, sales-based responses titled toward investing as the answer. It irked me that we didn’t have a mathematical way to model it and discuss the pros and cons. And my nagging conscience kept me from providing glib, scripted answers.

As my career progressed, my discontent with sales-based answers grew. My hunger for quantifiable models grew. With most complex decisions, there isn’t a right or wrong answer. Instead, there are a set of variables and possible outcomes based on those variables. People’s values and desires cause them to gravitate toward one preferred outcome over another. So, two families facing the same decision could come to different conclusions about their preferred course of action. And that, in my view, is as it should be. The ability to accurately model scenarios and discuss possible results continues to be a driving force behind our work.

When my career choice led me to focus on retirees in the mid-2000s, clients told me they were hiring me because they wanted someone who wouldn’t be retiring at the same time as they were. That made sense to me. And I realized that no one person could promise to be there for a client’s entire life – but a firm could. A firm that trained planners to use the same methods, worked as a team, and used the same tools, could promise to be there. And that sparked my desire to create a firm that had the potential to outlive me.

I set out to build such a firm. A firm that would make a lifelong commitment to its clients.

I established a set of values near and dear to my heart. They are on our website. And more importantly, we refer to them regularly – even weekly – in our work. I want to share them with you.

It’s Our Honor.

Clients trust us with the biggest financial decisions they make. We work in teams where we consult, collaborate, and check each other’s work because we know the magnitude of the decisions people make based on our analysis. Clients across the country trust us with their entire life savings, never having met us face-to-face. Indeed, we are honored. We do not take that trust for granted.

Own It.

We own our job and take responsibility for the outcome. We are careful – and we’re human. At times, we’re going to make mistakes. It’s our job to own that when it happens and make the needed corrections. And talk to our clients and teammates with integrity about our work. I look for this characteristic when I hire – can someone admit when they make a mistake? If not, we have a problem. We train on this value regularly – come to me with anything, and we can find a solution. Try to cover it up and we have a massive problem. We’ve not had any significant issues, and I want to keep it that way. I believe a culture of “own it” is the best way to maintain an environment of integrity.

Out With the Cookie Cutter.

Canned solutions and answers? That’s not us. We build and revise our planning models yearly because off-the-shelf solutions don’t allow us to customize things. As we grow, this is one of the most challenging values to hold in place. We need systems and processes. And we must be able to adjust our modeling process based on the needs of our clients. It’s an ongoing practice of maintaining efficiency while being able to deliver authentic answers and solutions for our clients.

Wow! We strive for service that will knock your socks off.

We aim to respond to emails and calls the same day, or if a query comes in near the end of the day, we want to answer the following business day. During tax season, we know our response times slip. Post-tax season, we consciously revisit and recommit to our service standards. We think this is more important than ever, as I hear stories of deteriorating service standards across many industries. To maintain our capacity to be highly responsive to our existing clients, we’ve placed a hold on new clients during several timeframes throughout the year.

Laugh, Play, Celebrate.

Our clients do that, and we take time for that too. We love getting love letters from our clients while they enjoy retirement; some send us photos from trips or family events. It makes us proud to know our work helps bring peace of mind, allowing our clients to enjoy this time more fully. We also want to ensure we have enough time with our families. While many of us put in long hours, we don’t want a burn-and-churn environment for our staff. We believe a stable staff environment best serves you, which means ensuring our people have an appropriate work-life balance.

I believe it is our focus on principles that got us to where we are today. While I am grateful for the recognition Inc. has provided us, I am even more thankful for our clients and staff – the people we interact with daily. I believe this recognition is a sign that we are on the right path to fulfill our mission:  a lifetime commitment that allows our clients the freedom to go out and live their lives with more certainty and confidence around their money.

Written by Dana Anspach, Founder & CEO of Sensible Money, LLC

Criteria

Companies on the 2022 Inc. 5000 are ranked according to percentage revenue growth from 2018 to 2021 as measured by company tax returns. To qualify, companies must have a minimum revenue of $2 million in 2021. The entire Inc. 5000 can be found here.