May 2, 2024
Knowledge is the Key to Unlocking Advisor Success, Says Madrona Financial Founder Brian Evans
Education and communication — for Evans and his clients — was the driving force behind Madrona Financial and that remains true today.

Johnathan Rickman | Blue Vault

Unwavering curiosity and a drive to continue learning is the key that helped unlock Brian Evans’ success as a financial advisor and business owner. He’d be the first to tell you that staying on top of trends is important, but the example he sets is that of an explorer — someone willing to dive deep into the vast expanse of the wealth management industry’s people, products, and tools to gain knowledge that he can pass on to his investor clients.

Brian Evans, CPA / PFS

Evans runs Madrona Financial Services, LLC, an Everett, WA-based advisory practice that offers portfolio management and financial planning services to accredited and high-net-worth individuals. The firm was founded in 1999 four years after Evans bought out half of Bauer Evans, Inc. P.S., a tax practice with offices in Everett and Bellevue, WA. He also owns Madrona Insurance Services, LLC, which offers annuities and permanent life insurance.

Evans says Madrona Financial came to be after a number of his CPA clients began asking him to invest their money, so he became licensed. Years later, clients asked him if it was possible to sell real estate assets without taking a tax hit. It was that challenge that led Evans to seek out a suitable solution (DSTs), become a personal financial specialist, and start his advisory practice.

Evans said those client inquiries all echoed a similar theme: “People would come to me and say, ‘my advisor is really nice, but he can’t answer my questions like you can.’” Education and communication — for Evans and his clients — was the driving force behind Madrona Financial and that remains true today.

Madrona Metrics

Including Evans, Madrona Financial has a team of 15 investment-focused employees on staff, including two younger partners for his succession plan. The firm manages $200 million in DST assets for 1031 exchanges and close to $100 million in other alternative investments. Madrona Financial also manages about $400 million in traditional stocks and bonds.

A rare figure in the financial services industry, Evans lends his expertise on everything from estate and income tax planning to alternative investments, leveraging his four decades of experience as a licensed CPA and roughly 10 years of working with alts. That experience has fostered considerable growth for Madrona Financial, which currently operates six offices in multiple states and helps hundreds of clients with their myriad financial needs.

Evans is also unique in that he is comfortable speaking in front of audiences — both in person and on live television — and is a nationally published author and radio host. He hosts a weekly radio show, Growing Your Wealth, available on various online streaming services, and has original daily features on four of the top stations in the Seattle market.

The more that people hear about Madrona Financial, the more it seems to grow. The firm recently opened a new office in a state other than Washington for the first time, in Utah, and Evans predicts further expansion over the next five years.

“It’s all about finding the right people to work with,” Evans says, noting that his firm expanded into Utah not because of the state’s market potential, but simply because someone he wanted to hire lives there. “I could see us doing more of that,” he adds.

Knowledge Sharing

Evans takes pride in educating investors about DSTs and other alternative investments, knowledge of which he says many of today’s advisors continue to lack. “Don’t fake it till you make it,” he says. “You can offer alternatives to clients, but can you talk about it with them for more than two minutes?”

Of his own sales pitch, Evans says: “I always lead with the detriments. Let me talk you out of it first.” He uses this as an example of the importance of vetting, in this case determining a client’s real needs over what they think they want. But he also notes the importance of vetting the investments he chooses for clients, saying that it’s not just about reading the fine print but also about reading between the lines for potential fatal flaws in a product.

“We spend a lot of time vetting audited financial statements to help us better understand what’s behind the curtain and to anticipate whether a sponsor will be successful or not,” Evans says.

He adds that it helps to have access to the kind of insight and analysis that Blue Vault provides: “Around the time I started the firm, I remember wishing there was someone out there who could educate me on DSTs. Then I discovered Blue Vault, and that saved me a lot of time. It was a huge part of my development, and it helped me get to know the players in the industry.”

Evans says his firm uses Blackstone’s real estate, private equity, and credit funds. Evans also finds value in Inland’s DST strategies. He also says Madrona Financial has worked with Bluerock, NexPoint, and ExchangeRight. “We have fully integrated alternatives,” he says. Learn more about Madrona Financial and consider joining them in becoming a Blue Vault member today!


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