For most people, personal finance is a necessary evil. But to Brian Nelson Ford, it’s a passion.
“I was one of those nerdy kids in high school that could pick up and devour a textbook about finance,” Ford says. As he grew up, he began to see how financial difficulties led to problems like depression and divorce. And his education—encompassing bachelor’s degrees in business as well as marriage, family and human development, and a master’s degree in personal finance—further reinforced for him the link between financial and family stability.
With this diverse and extensive educational background, Ford decided that he wanted to make a difference in peoples’ lives. To that end, he developed a financial wellness program called 8 Pillars, and he has made it his mission to provide companies with a financial education program that stands out from the rest.
“Our goal is to get employees into a better place financially,” Ford says.
Though he was fueled with a genuine passion for the idea of 8 Pillars, Ford’s experience forging a new company was fraught with serious struggles. He says that on one hand, he was confident and excited to put his plan into action, but on the other hand he doubted whether or not he could build a company while supporting a new family.
“Making this vision into a reality took tremendous effort—so much that I probably would not do it again. But it has molded me into the person I am today, which is something I am proud of.”
Prior to launching 8 Pillars, Ford was regional vice president for Michael C. Fina, a company that, among other things, offers employee recognition products and programs. Ford envisioned 8 Pillars as a workplace “financial wellness” benefit for employees. He authored The 8 Pillars of Financial Greatness in 2008 and, with all of his research and information in one place, Ford created the workplace program around the book.
The company now offers the program to businesses that are interested in providing their employees with financial education that will help them better manage their personal finances. The program includes onsite seminars and an online resource that allows employees to review training modules and watch informational videos.
“It’s an ongoing resource for employees. It helps them stay up to date with the information from the program, and it helps them deal with unexpected financial changes,” Ford says.
As far as managing his own company, Ford believes in practicing what he preaches. In addition to establishing the tenets of fun, focus and growth among his employees, Ford places a lot of emphasis on their individual wellbeing. “Most of the folks who work here could be making more money with their skill sets, but they work here because they help hundreds of people at a time,” he says.
Ford is also author of the children’s book Marshmallows and Bikes – Teaching Children (and Adults) Personal Finance.