The Abacus Story

How our co-founders met and Abacus Wealth Partners became a reality. 

Our Story

Maui, 1999. It was during a week-long training hosted by modern financial planning forefather George Kinder that Abacus Co-founders Brent Kessel and Spencer Sherman first met. The two quickly realized they shared an uncanny number of similarities — chiefly, a commitment to helping people make a significant impact with their time and money through financial planning and mindful investing. Neither wanted their companies to just help people get richer, they wanted their companies to be catalysts for living a more richly fulfilling life. 

Soon after, they met again at a conference in Colorado. While walking around a wooded lake on a cold mid-November afternoon, they also realized neither had a true peer within their businesses — no one to bounce the hard choices off of. Given their newfound and mutual affinity, they felt their clients and employees could benefit greatly if they joined forces. A few months later, deal terms were created and a 15-month “living together” period became a reality. 

During this trial period before their legal merger, Brent and Spencer visited each others’ offices on both coasts, sat in on client meetings together, and mentored each others’ teams. They even hired a psychotherapist to spend a weekend with them and their wives to explore where their partnership’s emotional pitfalls might be hidden. Eventually, the legal merger was complete and the combined staff met for a three-day retreat in Napa — and Abacus Wealth Partners was born. 

In the two decades (and counting) since, Abacus has achieved many proud milestones: 

  • Our staff has grown from seven to nearly 70 employees
  • Abacus and its employees have donated over $1,765,000 to charity
  • Our founders’ books The Cure for Money Madness, It’s Not About the Money, and The Money and Spirit Workshop from Sounds True have been read by over 40,000 people
  • We are a founding B Corp, meaning we use business as a force for good; certified B Corporations meet the highest standards of verified social and environmental performance, public transparency, and legal accountability to balance profit and purpose
  • We have invested over $30 million globally in small enterprises who focus on social impact 
  • We helped engineer and fund two of the largest environmentally-screened mutual funds in the world
  • Our assets under management have grown from $200 million to $3 billion
  • We have grown from two partners to twenty, half of whom are female
  • We were one of the first companies to recognize the link between mindfulness, emotions, and financial success

We firmly believe the best is yet to come. We are committed to hiring and mentoring the brightest and most emotionally intelligent financial planners in the country, and helping them become partners in Abacus. We love what we do and we remain committed to expanding what’s possible with money.

The Abacus Logo

Abacus Co-Founder Brent Kessel says, “When I set about naming the company, I knew I wanted our advice to help clients be introspective and mindful of their relationship to money, as well as basing it on technical, agile, precise computations, and time-tested research.” 

Many of these mindful and introspective concepts were inspired by yoga, meditation, and other Eastern wisdom traditions. Most scholars believe the abacus was invented in China around 200 BCE, although some have traced abacus-like instruments back to Mesopotamia in 2700 BCE. 

Not coincidentally, a proficient user of an abacus demonstrates agility and precision. The combination of those principles in one tangible object is what most attracted Abacus to its namesake. 

Our original logo, which was a slightly more literal representation of an abacus, was simplified to the design we have today about 10 years ago. The upward facing direction of the bar (both in the original and current logo) is meant to symbolize the expansion of what’s possible with money.

Expand what's possible with your money.