The genesis of what is now Brightworth began in 1981, many years before the firm was actually formed. After working as a CPA with a Big Eight accounting firm, Dave Polstra realized that he had a passion for more than conducting audits and filing tax returns, and wanted to help people by counseling them in all areas of their finances. So, at age 24, he informed his Managing Partner of his intent to shift into financial planning. “You’ll never make it,” his boss said.
More than three decades later, Polstra and his partners at Brightworth have proven that former boss wrong. Brightworth now has more than one billion in assets under management and is recognized by the Financial Times as one of the Top 300 Registered Investment Advisors in the United States*.
In the beginning, Dave used his innate teaching skills to help build his practice, providing retirement planning workshops for Fortune 500 companies such as AT&T, Southern Company and The Coca-Cola Company, developing a loyal clientele. In 1992 Chris Dardaman, a young, energetic entrepreneur/ financial advisor, joined forces with Dave and their business began to grow. By 1997, the business had grown so much that Dave and Chris launched their own new firm: Polstra & Dardaman. Their motto, which has stuck to this day, became “taking care of our clients in the same manner we would want our own parents taken care of.” The new firm opened its doors with two partners, three employees, and a small number of terrific clients.
Chris built out the firm’s investment management capabilities and served as the firm’s first Chief Investment Officer from 1997 to 2014. In 1997 Alan Gotthardt left Ernst & Young to join the firm as its third partner. Alan helped elevate the firm’s investment, marketing and branding strategies, and built in additional quality across our growing business.
In 2004, Ray V. Padrón joined the firm adding valuable management and leadership experience to the firm. Like Dave, Chris, and Alan, Ray began his career as a CPA, and later started his own wealth management firm. His practice was eventually acquired by a national wealth management firm, where Ray became its Chief Financial Officer.
Ray’s passion has been building our people and teams and today he serves as the firm’s Managing Partner. In 2005, the firm re-branded itself as Brightworth. “Bright,” because of our optimism for the future, and “worth,” because we take our fiduciary responsibility of handling clients’ money very seriously.
In 2007, Brightworth made one of its most important long-term strategic decisions. The firm designed and built a long-term succession planning process so that future advisors and younger leaders could buy into and eventually own the firm. This important decision has allowed Brightworth to grow, retain key talent, and ensure that our clients will be advised and served by the best in the years ahead. Brightworth moved from being built … to being built to last.
In a time where many firms are aging with their clients, Brightworth has developed a sustainable model with wealth advisors ready to serve both the current generation of clients and future generations to come. And those advisors remain on the cutting edge of the most important wealth management issues such as retirement, estate planning, business succession and philanthropy.
Today, Brightworth has nine partners operating from its offices in the Terminus 100 building in Buckhead. The firm provides wealth management services for more than 500 families throughout the United States and manages over $1.2 billion in client assets. With over 25 employees serving its clients, Brightworth has maintained an average 98% client retention rate* since 2000 - evidence of something the team calls "The Brightworth Difference". The firm is ranked among the top of the industry for fee-only firms, receiving numerous awards and recognitions through the years and strives to maintain our core values of Integrity, Excellence, Service and Teamwork.
*See Terms & Privacy section of the website for additional disclosures.