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The world of finance and investments is both crucial and complicated. What we do with our money is intensely personal but frankly it’s one of the areas of our life in which we most need assistance and help. What I have found over the years is that the relationship people have with anyone who offers financial advice becomes quite personal. You’ve probably heard the phrase know, like and trust. For anyone to follow any type of financial advice, those three components have to be in place. So with that thought in mind I thought it’d be helpful and even interesting to learn a little bit about where I come from, because for me, investing is more than just a job or a way to earn money. It’s really a passion and an interest that goes back to childhood.
My initial interest in investments began from my mother. She had inherited some securities left to her by her dad and she would educate me about how she was investing them. I remember that at one point I had $200 in the piggybank on my dresser and expressed an interest in buying stock. My mother asked Mr. Wilson at Merrill Lynch who recommended Central Investment Corporation of Denver. Initially she was mad at him, since the stock never did much of anything for a few years. However, eventually, CIC was bought by Kroger which eventually resulted in my receiving a check for $4,000.00. That was the starting point of my life-long fascination with investments.
When it came time to go to college I looked at a number of different schools. One of the big appeals to me was the history of Vanderbilt and its ties to the investment community. The fact that it offered an opportunity to be out of Texas for the first time was an additional bonus.
Although I considered a number of different schools, one of the advantages of attending Vanderbilt was the opportunity to apply for the Corning Fellowship – which I was honored to be a recipient of. I studied engineering and economics and graduated with a degree in mechanical engineering. While I wouldn’t trade that experience for anything, the study of engineering tends to be the proverbial inch wide and a mile deep. The more I thought about it, a career as a bench engineer was just not for me. Given my ongoing interest in business and investment I felt that an MBA would be the next logical step in completing my education. I was fortunate enough to apply and be accepted at the Harvard Business School. As I reflect on my time there, one of the most important lessons was how to examine all the factors that are important at various stages of life and plot the most appropriate course of action. It’s a lesson I’ve carried with me throughout my career.
When I graduated I was fortunate to have a couple of options. The Corning fellowship afforded me the opportunity to get to know the Chairman and CEO of Corning who became an informal mentor. I was honored when they offered me the opportunity to join their accelerated management development program. It was not an easy decision. I have always been a believer that if at all possible that your work should reflect your passion. And for me my passion was, and is to this day, the world of finance and investments.
Two of my Harvard classmates were similarly inclined regarding finance and investments but also had a strong entrepreneurial calling which resulted in the three of us starting a business upon graduation.
As often happens a path is determined largely by happenstance. Such was the case with our entry into the previously-owned secondary annuity market. Frankly, initially it was not something that I understood in great detail. But the more that I met people involved in this specialized area of financing, I realized that previously owned annuities are unique in offering above average rates of return without the risks associated with the equity markets. And today, previously-owned secondary market annuities constitute one of the three main drivers of our business at Bulbrook/Drislane.
John M. Bulbrook is founder and CEO of Bulbrook/Drislane Brokerage, a national distributor of financial products headquartered in the Boston area. For more than 30 years John has helped insurance agents, financial planners and brokers find the right insurance and annuity products to meet their clients’ needs. In the process, he has earned a reputation throughout the industry for his integrity, resourcefulness and hard work, all carried out in good humor. Representing more than 40 insurance and annuity companies with his business partner Rick Drislane, John is in the enviable position of being able to help his agents identify the best policy at the best value for situations both simple and complex.
Recently John created a national distribution network for In-Force™ Fixed Term Payments, Bulbrook/Drislane’s proprietary name for a transferred structured settlement in which a buyer receives the rights to fixed annuity payments in exchange for a lump sum payment to the original existing annuitant.
John is the Lead Independent Trustee of the Pear Tree Mutual Fund Group, with over two billion dollars of assets. In 2009 and 2010 John was a key industry link to the Financial Services Committee in the insurance industry’s efforts to revise SEC Section 151A and included its repeal in the Financial Services Reform legislation recently passed by Congress.
Upon graduation from Vanderbilt University, John was awarded a Corning Glass Works World Traveling Fellowship and traveled through 42 countries after working for a time at Corning offices in Zurich . He then served in the U.S. Army, graduating from the Infantry Officer Basic Course and the Airborne School at Fort Benning, Georgia and the Aerial Surveillance and Imagery Interpretation Course at the U.S. Army Intelligence School. John served with the Fourth Infantry Division in Viet Nam. Upon his return from Viet Nam, he was accepted at the Harvard Business School and earned an MBA.
John grew up in Fort Worth, Texas and has lived in the Boston area since completing graduate school. He and his wife Carolyn have two adult children who pursue musical careers in Los Angeles. Carolyn is a Senior Associate at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston and does floral arranging in the public spaces and is on the Patron program committee. Andrew is a founding member of the Calder Quartet, a classical string quartet (www.calderquartet.com). Anna is a founding member of the Airborne Toxic Event, an indie rock band (www.theairbornetoxicevent.com). John has served St. Peter’s Church, Weston, Mass. in many capacities, including as Senior Warden and on a continuing basis with stewardship, communications and music committees.
About John M. Bulbrook, CEO and Founder, Bulbrook/Drislane Brokerage