Q&A with Paul Blanco of Barnum Financial Group

When Paul Blanco joined what would become Shelton

Barnum Financial Group

in 1991, he had just completed his undergraduate degree at St. Francis College in Brooklyn, NY

Blanco worked for two years as a financial services representative for MetLife before being promoted to management. MetLife had nine employees in its Trumbull office at the time Blanco was sent to Connecticut to lead that office.

Fast forward a quarter of a century since that promotion.

Barnum Financial Group separated from MetLife in 2016.
The financial education and planning company currently has more than 500 employees, including more than 200 in southern and western Connecticut.

And Blanco is the winner of the award for best leadership among executives in the mid-size employer category in the Hearst Connecticut Media 2022 Top Workplaces competition – based on employee survey responses from Hearst’s partner Energage. in the program.

Barnum has 30 offices in five states, including nine in Connecticut. As the company’s founder and CEO, Blanco said it was essential to keep employees engaged and happy across such a large geographic network.

What is the secret to the success of your business?

We’ve really tried to keep an intimate culture here even though we’ve grown rapidly. Part of the key to that, I think, is always trying to be flexible, trying to scale.

We are very focused on trying to create a good life for our people. An example of this is when we take some of our best people and hold meetings in a retreat-like setting. Or we’ll bring in a food truck so everyone in an office can have lunch.

Part of what you do is provide financial literacy programs to employees of client companies across the United States. How it works?

We have been providing financial education in the workplace since 2000. We use several metrics to measure success, such as the number of people registered for the programs as well as feedback after the sessions.

We have a high retention rate among our corporate clients when it comes to doing additional financial education. Companies add it as a benefit for their employees. And for employees, it’s much easier to do these programs on their work schedule.

We try to make the programs very timely, so if an employer has added a new benefit, we try to make a program on that.

You got your start in the financial services industry with MetLife, which created Barnum. What is the relationship between the two companies now?

We have a strategic relationship with MetLife. They are one of the largest insurers in the country and we are like a financial literacy arm for some of their clients. It is a very important part of our business.

How has the pandemic affected your ability to work with clients? Are your employees working from home?

We have a mix of working arrangements for our people. A lot of our advisors are in the office daily because I think they just like continuity. Having people working remotely has really worked for us. Now we can zoom in and be in someone’s kitchen in California without having a physical office there. We can advise people all over the country.

The advice we give regarding the impact of the pandemic on financial markets is constantly evolving.

How does your pricing structure work?

Our industry is so regulated that our fee structure depends on the product or service we provide and who our customer is. On some products we get on commission and for some others it is through a flat fee.

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