Off the Clock: Brad Fortier, Fortier Financial president

Published in City Business

Age: 36
Family: wife, Kris; daughter, Kate, 13 months
Education: bachelor’s degree in sociology, Loyola University
Hometown: New Orleans

Brad Fortier says his initial calling would have been geared toward law, but having been raised by a family that sacrificed to give him opportunities, he saw the value of understanding money.

“That made me realize how important it is not to have to worry about financial resources, which drove me to want to share that knowledge with other people,” said Fortier, president of Fortier Financial.

But getting into the business can be difficult, he said.

Fortier started with Olde Discount Stock Brokers, now H&R Block, where he was basically given a phone book and a phone and told to “go earn his living.”

And despite a couple of career moves, including a vice president position at Morgan Stanley, things got harder before they got easier.

“The pinnacle of every financial planner is to open their own practice,” Fortier said. “I was fortunate to do that two weeks before Hurricane Katrina. I basically lost every client I had. I found myself married, unemployed and homeless all in about an eight-week period.”

What’s the biggest financial planning mistake someone can make in this economy?
The biggest mistake anyone makes in any economy is a poor understanding of risk. It’s the most misunderstood concept in life.

They either fail to imagine it or it’s the false belief that a risk-free option is available. I still hear of people wanting to reduce their flood insurance in New Orleans.

Are people are becoming more financially literate?
They’re awakening to the reality that risk is everywhere. People in New Orleans have an edge on the rest of the world. We’ve been humbled through reality that, by the end of the day, it can all be taken away.

Do you have a go-to book?
The irony of sound money management is that it’s actually not all about numbers. Eckhart Tolle wrote “The Power of Now.” It had a pretty profound impact on my life and how I manage my own money and life.

Do you ever get tired of the word risk?
You certainly see the world in a different light after a while. You can say you get tired of saying the word, but the key to a life of true inner peace is knowing that you’ve adequately assessed all the risks you can deal with.

Have you ever played the game Risk?
I used to love playing Risk as a kid. I haven’t in a while. I recall enjoying it but don’t remember if I was good at it.

What’s your prediction for the Saints?
You kinda have to say they’re going to win the Super Bowl.

What’s the biggest risk with the Saints?
Failing to remember what got you to the place where you are and not being truly present in the now