BIRE’s Market
BIRE Financial Services takes a truly comprehensive approach to helping individuals and business owners achieve their goals for the future
by Sharon A. Shaw

For investors, prospective retirees and business owners, the last five years have been, if nothing else, an interesting ride. The economy has shown signs of encouragement following its prolonged slump, the markets have rebounded, and the government has instituted numerous changes to the tax code and health care systems.

Within such an ever-changing landscape, it can be difficult for individuals and businesses to navigate alone. Fortunately, the team at BIRE Financial Services can help individuals and business owners achieve their financial goals, both in the short term and over the long haul.

“Your company’s name should represent what you do,” says Joel Goodhart, one of the founding partners of BIRE, which is composed of three separate yet interrelated divisions: BIRE Financial Services, which provides individual and corporate clients with comprehensive support in achieving their financial goals; BIRE Benefits, which helps employers meet present and future needs as it relates to employee benefits; and BIREPIP (Partners In Planning), which  identifies financial and legal issues that need to be addressed by professionals in allied disciplines.

BIRE is an acronym standing for the services it offers—Business, Individual, Retirement and Estate—while its logo, a white swan, represents the phrase, “Sleep Well at Night.” The firm’s seasoned client service team manages close to $300 million in assets for its individual and business clients, on top of managing the benefits programs of 125 small companies.

The firm’s partners—Goodhart, along with Dennis Freedman and Stuart Leibowitz—formed BIRE in 2004. All three partners are Temple University alumni and continue to serve on boards and committees to support the university’s mission. Also, each of the partners is a member of the “Million Dollar Round Table,” which is the premier association of financial professionals based on sales, and has brought diverse life experiences and skills to the firm to help clients achieve their financial goals.

Goodhart has been in the financial services industry since 1976, when a mentor suggested he consider a career in insurance. Leibowitz, meanwhile, practiced law for 25 years and had his own firm in Norristown before deciding to follow his true passion. The financial services field is also a second career for Freedman, who spent 12 years as a schoolteacher before joining an insurance firm 32 years ago. All three partners are in their 60s and understand the needs of clients who are either preparing to retire or have retired and need help transitioning from decades of saving to what Goodhart calls “de-cumulation.”

“We have clients who come in and have done all the right things,” says Goodhart, who is a five-year member of “Top of the Table” and has been recognized as a member of Ed Slott’s Master Elite IRA Advisor Group. “But they don’t know what to do now. … They were very proficient at accumulation, they signed up for their employers’ 401(k) and had money go out to that each month. Now that they have retired, though, they need that process to reverse to provide them with income.

“We manage money in buckets of five years,” he continues. “Our philosophy is that the money you need in five years should be in cash; the money you need 20 years from now shouldn’t be in the bank, making no money; and the money you leave your kids is 50-year money. A lot of what we do goes back to Stephen Covey [author of the book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”], meaning begin with the end in mind and ask the question, ‘What is your big picture?’ I asked that question to one couple who said, ‘We have three kids and grandkids. We don’t want to make them rich but we want to help if we can.’ I told them I can make both happen, because knowing your goal lets me place your assets where they should be.”

With BIRE Benefits, led by Freedman, the firm focuses on designing and implementing cost-effective benefits plans for employers to aid in both retention and recruitment. This can be especially challenging when one considers the flux of recent years, which saw the emergence of the Affordable Care Act, on which Freedman is federally certified to council employers.  

“Today’s business owner is looking toward someone to be an advisor regarding the financial aspects of what they can do for their employees,” Freedman says. “It might appear that all employers have the same needs but they don’t, so we have to be creative. Every day we face challenges from the government and others to achieve that which helps our clients. Basically, we utilize our knowledge to help them navigate the maze of the Affordable Care Act, but it is so difficult to understand for most employers. I like that when I leave the office of an individual or business owner, they do understand.”

With BIREPIP, which Leibowitz leads, the firm enlists the experience of a network of third-party professionals. These include attorneys, CPAs, property/casualty firms, mortgage companies and others, all with the goal of helping clients make the most informed decisions regarding their financial future.

“In that sense we are truly a comprehensive, one-stop shop,” Leibowitz says. “Although I have maintained my license to practice [law], I got tired of the adversarial nature of law and fell in love with advocacy. In the law, someone is always on the other side trying to take away one’s benefits, not pay a debt or accuse them of fault. I just want to help people. I want to use my experience to help them find the right strategies and solutions.

“We are a boutique firm, and we just keep growing,” he continues. “I think what sets us apart is our independence and the fact that we listen to the client with all the knowledge and experience we have behind us so we can then strategize and come up with solutions to let them make decisions with our guidance.”

Regardless of each client’s specific situation, BIRE’s goal remains to help each client reach their goals with the same life-changing realization, according to Goodhart: “You can’t change the past, but you can alter your future.”

BIRE Financial Services LLC
4066 Butler Pike
Plymouth Meeting, PA 19462
610-825-4066 |

Securities offered through Sammons Securities Company, LLC. Member FINRA/SIPC. BIRE Financial Services is independent of Sammons Securities Company, LLC.

Photograph by Jody Robinson