Getting Personal
Plan for your financial future through a lasting relationship with Bruce J. Cumby of Cumby, Spencer and Associates
by Bill Donahue


Throughout his career, whether he was riding in an ambulance as a teenaged EMT, carrying someone out of a burning building as a volunteer fireman or, now, helping to secure the financial futures of local retirees and business owners, Bruce J. Cumby has always had a common driver: to make a difference in other people’s lives.


Shaped by humble beginnings, Cumby has since become one of the region’s premier financial advisors as the principal advisor with Haverford-based Cumby, Spencer and Associates Financial Group. He grew up in a stable middle-class family in Yeadon, with parents who taught him the value of a dollar and the importance of “doing the right thing.” He believes this upbringing grounded him with a firm sense of honesty and responsibility, which continues to guide him in his practice to this day.


“People don’t care about how much you know until they know about how much you care,” says Cumby, whose professional designations include Chartered Life Underwriter®, Chartered Financial Consultant® and Master of Science in Financial Services. “My job is to sit and listen more than I talk, and to find the financial ‘minefields’ for my clients. When you walk into a minefield, you have no idea where those mines are, and if you don’t have an experienced, trusted advisor walking you through the process, your plan has a good chance to ‘blow up’; it may be in a year or it may be 20 years in the future. My job is to guide clients in the right direction. You don’t want to get it wrong. You can’t go back and work another 30 years to replace your lost income or legacy.


“I spend 70 percent of my time with clients finding out what their goals and dreams are, drilling down and learning everything about them that I can,” he continues. “I will probably know more about them than any other professional they’ve dealt with, because I’m looking for a long-term relationship with each client. … Our firm had its best year in 31 years last year, and before that we had our best year in 30 years, and I think that speaks volumes.”


Cumby takes each client through a complex discussion to understand his or her ambitions for the future, on top of an in-depth conversation regarding one’s finances. Most of his clients are people in pre- or post-retirement who seek his counsel in managing, growing and transferring wealth. He also guides business owners in structuring estate plans and other tasks designed to have a lasting, positive effect on an enterprise’s future.


“Many small-business owners do not have an heir apparent, and a business is usually the largest asset in these people’s lives,” he says. “A lot of business owners think that someday someone is going to walk through the door with a suitcase of money and say, ‘I want your business; it’s really valuable.’ In reality what happens is that the business is extremely fragile and no one calls to buy the company. For the businesses that have a family member working in the business, usually very little has been prepared. Procrastination sets in and no formal plan is communicated to any family member or key employee. When I get together with a business owner and their spouse, I’m taking a ‘12,000-foot overview’ so we can develop a three-, five- and 10-year plan of where they’re going to be in this business.”


This often includes an exit plan, which is a “road map that can be flexible and adjustable,” outlining an owner’s steady future withdrawal from the business over a series of years. In doing so, Cumby can help an owner pay the least amount of taxes and be confident in knowing they can be secure financially, without jeopardizing the business or handicapping its future owners.


“Even if they are not planning to retire now the planning should be completed,” he says. “Things change quickly in life. You want to be prepared. The bottom line is that we can make sure families continue to talk to each other around the Thanksgiving table without starting a family feud. Learning the family dynamics of any client plays a big part in my planning.”


Significant Upside

Cumby’s strengths as an advisor are responsibility, discipline, significance, competition and being an activator. This five-trait combination suggests he is well equipped to act as a good steward of one’s assets, be they personal or tied to a company. His expertise stems not only from the values of his middle-class upbringing but also from his education.


A graduate of the American College in Bryn Mawr, Cumby continues to build upon his knowledge base through his participation in elite study groups, learning from some of the nation’s top attorneys, accountants and other wealth-management professionals.


His chief ambition is to ensure that clients have enough assets to last them a lifetime or longer, while making the process enjoyable. Even with the unforeseen events of the past decade—the 9/11 attacks, the bursting of the technology bubble, the economic meltdown of 2008, etc.—his firm can help grow one’s wealth over the long term. “Today, more than ever before, a buyer must beware when purchasing financial products,” he says. “I recommend only companies that have the highest standards and ratings. I go into great detail in researching company information.”


Matters of wealth management and estate planning are more about being a thoughtful listener than anything else, according to Cumby, who is a member of Philadelphia’s Estate Planning Council, Delaware County’s Estate Planning Council and the National Association of Financial Advisors. He equates it to being a “therapist” of sorts in that he helps his clients and their spouses get to the heart of financial matters, which can be incredibly emotional.


“When I sit down and start asking the right questions, there are a lot of emotions that come out,” he says. “I want to learn what keeps people up at night. … In retirement planning, there are at least five different occurrences I talk about with retirement money and mapping out the client’s future: health-care costs, impact of withdrawals, timing of returns, inflation and life expectancy—meaning how long will you live and your investments last? Business owners and people who are retiring have to make sure they have enough to keep them going throughout their lives. In retirement, every day is a Saturday when it comes to spending.”


Apart from his business, Cumby—past president of the Newtown Square Rotary and past president of the Yeadon Fire Co.—continues to help local communities by contributing his time, money and other resources to charitable organizations such as LaSalle Academy and the Malvern Retreat House. LaSalle Academy is a tuition-free elementary school in Philadelphia for at-risk youth in grades two through eight; the school now has 90 students and a growing waiting list. Malvern Retreat House, meanwhile, is a retreat owned by Catholic laity that serves to strengthen the spirit of local men, women and their families. 


Being involved in charities gives Cumby valuable insight when determining how and where charity work fits into his clients’ plans. It’s also another example of how his past continues to shape his present, as well as his clients’ futures.


“When I was a volunteer for the Yeadon Fire Co. or working as an EMT, I did that to help people,” he says. “It was a value system I learned from my parents. Now I’m handling people’s financial lives here, and the things I learned early on are what guide me today to make sure I’m making the best and most informed decision for each client. … When I work with a client, the products are going to be there, and the advice is going to be there. I just need to get to know the needs and wants of the client first.”


Cumby, Spencer and Associates Financial Group

500 Darby Road

Havertown, PA 19083

Phone: 610-446-4710



Bruce Cumby is a financial adviser offering investment advisory services through Eagle Strategies LLC, a Registered Investment Advisor. Cumby, Spencer and Associates is not owned or operated by Eagle Strategies LLC or its affiliates.


Kim Billingsley is a freelance photographer based in Doylestown.