About Sharon Pivirotto
Click to Tweet:Three things determine success: your level of motivation, your ability to focus on the essential, and your support network. ~ Sharon Pivirotto (Lessons learned from a lifetime of adventure.)
Hi folks! I’m Sharon. It’s nice to meet you!
I created this website to help you become a more successful 401k Advisor.
Like you, I know the challenges of trying to grow a 401k business, differentiate yourself, and manage all that’s required to run a compliant practice.
I was once a broker trying to sell and service retirement plans with no training or background on the complexities of managing a qualified plan or any idea idea how to grow the 401k side of the business.
The last 20 years in this business have taught me a lot and I’m happy to share with you what I’ve learned.
If you want to know a little (or a lot) more about my background as an entrepreneur, then read on…
A 20-Year Journey
My personal path in the financial industry began in 1994 when I was a sergeant in the U.S. Army, stationed in Kuwait, with too much time on my hands. I became a fervent reader of all things self-help and when I read Wealth Without Risk by Charles Givens, I knew that when my active duty time ended, I would pursue a career in the financial industry so I could share what I had learned with others. The concepts seemed so simple, yet very few people I had ever met knew of or applied very basic money concepts that could drastically improve their financial lives.
When I was honorably discharged in February 1996, I sought out the firm that I felt portrayed my values and drive and in May of 1996, was hired by Edward Jones to open an investment office outside of Pittsburgh. I studied and earned my series 7 and 63 and within a few short years, I had grown my office from scratch – zero, to nearly 50 million dollars under management and a couple hundred clients. For several years, I loved helping educate individuals on the various components that make up a diversified investment portfolio.
Stop Selling, Start Creating…
I enjoyed the educational component more than the sales side of the financial industry so in 2002, I decided to start my own firm (The American Dream Group) focused on creating educational literature on a variety of topics, some related to the financial industry, others unrelated. I was successful at finding investors to fund the start-up of the company, brought in my best friend to tap her creative and business skills, then proceeded to work like a dog for 2 years trying everything I could to research and learn what I felt was needed to write books on topics I wasn’t familiar with. I failed miserably. I was scattered, unrealistic, spent all my time on research, and tried to do everything myself (in hindsight, there was no opportunity for success with that model). Failure is the most valuable form of education a person can get and I openly share many of the lessons I’ve learned not related to the 401k industry on my personal blog at www.sharonpivirotto.com.
Filling a Need in the 401k Space
In 2004, while still following my dream of being an educator and creator, I teamed up with 401k powerhouse Don Settina to develop a series of education guides for use with his 401k clients. While creating this material and studying for the Accredited Investment Fiduciary designation from the Center for Fiduciary Studies, I realized that there was no practical way to meet the practices taught in the training without building a comprehensive, documentable, and repeatable process.
As I spent the next eighteen months developing and testing this complete process, dubbed the 401k Service Solution™, which included education literature and a solid and organized system of documented compliance, Don and I made the decision to form Financial Service Standards to give other retirement professionals nationwide access to the material developed. Realizing most individuals either have no retirement specific training or, if they had specialized training, they still struggled with the practical application side of meeting regulations with process, we decided to let other advisers and service professionals leverage what was already created that had been tested and proven effective with Don’s sizable book of business.
I then developed the 401k Service Training Program™, a training program for retirement sales and service professionals, which was accredited by Robert Morris University in Pittsburgh; and since 2005 have trained thousands of professionals and organizations nationwide on ERISA regulations and industry best practices from all areas of investment consulting including professionals from the following organizations (partial list):
- 401k Advisors
- Advanced Wealth Management, LLC
- AIG Advisor Group
- Alliance Benefit Group, Inc.
- AON Consulting
- Bank of America
- Benefits Consulting Group
- BKD Wealth Advisors
- Columbia Management
- Commonwealth Financial Network
- Financial Planning Consultants, Inc.
- Independent Bankers Bank
- Invest Financial
- LPL Financial
- NRP Financial
- National Retirement Partner Advisors
- Northwestern Mutual
- Prudential (formerly Jennison Dryden)
- Raymond James Financial
- The Hartford
- White Horse Advisors
You can see all of the products I’ve created on my Products Page.
Speaking at industry conferences nationwide has provided a platform to help retirement advisers understand what’s required to run an effective and compliant retirement plan business and implement standards in the retirement industry. (You can see a list of presentations I’ve given and book me to speak at your event from my Speaking Page.)
In 2007, I earned the Accredited Investment Fiduciary Analyst designation from fi360 and let me tell you – THIS PROGRAM IS THE REAL DEAL! If you REALLY want to learn how to look objectively at a plan sponsor’s 401k process and find all the gaps and issues they need help with – I’d highly recommend you look at this very practical, hands-on program.
In 2008, the 401k Service Solution was awarded a PSCA Signature Award from the Profit Sharing Council of America based on the effectiveness of the process to help plan sponsors understand their fiduciary responsibilities and improve their overall compliance using this system.
In 2010, I was nominated by 401kWire as one of the Most Influential People in the 401(k) Industry.
Selling One Business and Starting Another
In February of 2013, fi360, Inc. acquired the products developed under Financial Service Standards, so I’ve recently formed the Pivirotto Resource Group to continue to help others as a consultant, author, speaker and innovator, providing inspiration, strategies and resources to help fellow pension professionals and entrepreneurs achieve success in life and in business.
Get inspiration and motivation by following my Facebook page.
Get strategies for growing a successful 401k practice on my YouTube channel.
See what I’m reading and find inspiration on my Recommended Reading Page.
7 RANDOM FACTS ABOUT SHARON
- My family is my top priority. I’m happily married to the man of my dreams for over 20 years now and we have two boys of whom we couldn’t be more proud.
- We home-school our boys and while it can be challenging, it’s definitely worth it.
- I’ve been self-employed since 1995 and have worked out of my home office exclusively since 2008 — I love coaching fellow entrepreneurs on how to create a lifestyle business that allows them to work anywhere.
- I raise backyard chickens on the basketball pad in my backyard.
- I bought my last car on e-bay.
- I’m an animal lover and have 13 pets including dogs, cats, chickens (yes, they’re pets) and fish.
- I’m proud to be an American. I served 4 years on active duty in the Army and highly recommend military service in some way, shape or form for all young men and women.