Financial Advisor Success

The Financial Advisor Success podcast brings you real success stories and insights from the most successful financial advisors, and leading industry consultants, about how to take your advisory business to the next level. Get a glimpse of what it's like behind the scenes building a successful advisory business, and how entrepreneurial advisors navigate the inevitable highs, and lows, of growing a firm. Whether you're a new financial advisor trying to get started on the right foot, or an experienced advisor who's hit a wall, we're here to give you the insights and inspiration you need to break through and reach the level of success you want to achieve. Subscribe to the show, and get even more at the leading industry blog Nerd’s Eye View at
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Financial Advisor Success



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May 22, 2018

My guest today is well known in the financial services industry as a true creative force. Sheri Fitts is the founder of ShoeFitts Marketing—a marketing consulting firm for financial advisors—and the Chief Marketing Officer for Sheridan Road Advisors—a Chicago-area advisory firm with nearly $13 billion in AUM. With more than 25 years of industry experience, Sheri specializes in crafting unforgettable marketing strategies that really stand out.

In this episode, she shares her journey from working a traditional corporate job to going out on her own as an independent consultant, as well as the key marketing concepts that have helped her get to where she is today. Listen in to hear Sheri’s take on how to leverage and maximize marketing ideas, the fundamental difference between sales and marketing, and what advisory firms need to cultivate in order to succeed.

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May 15, 2018

Today’s guest lives in a very interesting space that is becoming a bit of a hot trend in the industry these days. Dave DeVoe is the founder of DeVoe & Co., a practice management consulting firm for RIAs with a focus on business valuation succession planning and facilitating mergers and acquisitions of advisory firms. After his time leading the Schwab Advisor Services Mergers & Acquisitions program—and now working as an independent consultant who runs one of the industry’s leading deal book tracking studies on financial advisor M & A activity—Dave has a deep history in consulting on and tracking the trends of advisory firm mergers and acquisitions and the value of firms themselves.

In this episode, Dave talks about the mechanics of advisory firm deals from the buyer’s perspective, including the main considerations that go into valuation. Listen in to hear his expert perspective on the buyer and seller trends in the industry, the flaws in the traditional 2x revenue valuation estimate for a firm, and why he sees it as both a buyer’s market and a seller’s market right now.

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May 8, 2018

Peggy Ruhlin, CFP board member and CEO of Budros, Ruhlin and Roe, joins us on the show to share her experience and financial planning journey. She goes into depth about her firms unique process that ensures all clients get the same treatment and experience. Peggy gives us the details of what they offer regarding planning and investment services and talks about how their clients actually requested they get more involved in the investment area.

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May 1, 2018

My guest on today’s podcast has had what I consider one of the most fascinating journeys into the financial services industry. After making several major shifts in her career—which she began as a freelance and professional cellist who played in the Chicago Symphony Orchestra— Sue Stevens founded Stevens Wealth Management, an advisory firm in the Chicago area that serves 150 clients with nearly $350 million in AUM.

In this episode, Sue shares how her unique ability to take leaps of faith led to her leadership roles at Morningstar, Vanguard, Arthur Andersen, and now Buckingham Strategic Wealth. Listen in to hear how she navigated multiple career changes, what she did to craft her own dream job description as the owner of an advisory firm, and her advice for tuning in to your own intuition on your path to success.

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Apr 24, 2018

Barry Glassman is the founder and president of Glassman Wealth Services, a wealth management firm in the Washington D.C. area that has grown to nearly $1.2 billion in assets under management in barely ten years. Now serving about 250 affluent client families, the company’s impressive growth makes sense when you consider the time and energy Barry spends focusing on building the firm as a business, as well as his distinct methods for standing out to clients.

In this episode, he shares his unique approach to differentiating Glassman Wealth by doing what he calls “interrupting the pattern” from what clients and prospects are typically used to. Listen in to learn the uncommon industry practices that have worked to win over clients, advice for sticking out in prospects' minds, and more.

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Apr 17, 2018

Today’s guest has had quite an unusual career path in the industry. After starting out as a Client Care Associate for SignatureFD—an independent RIA that currently serves more than $3 billion of AUM for nearly 1,000 clients—Heather Fortner is now a partner, Chief Operations Officer, and Chief Compliance Officer for the firm. It’s an impressive feat by any standard, but especially in a world where it’s still relatively rare for non-revenue-producing members of a firm to have an opportunity to become a partner (not to mention how rare this is for women).

In this episode, Heather shares how SignatureFD’s unique business model works with their series of various niches under the firm’s umbrella, as well as how their holistic financial design process aims to help clients with all types of wealth, including money, time, and relationships. Listen in to hear what skills she believes are most important for everyone—especially women—to develop in order to climb the career track in an independent advisory firm, how advisors can identify the right firm to stick with in the long run, and what she says are the most understated issues limiting the career growth of women in the industry today.

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Apr 10, 2018

Elliot Weissbluth is the founder and CEO of HighTower Advisors, a unique back and middle office support platform for independent advisory firms that now oversees more than $50 billion of assets under management, with nearly 600 employees. As if those numbers weren’t impressive enough, HighTower built their own data platform to house all their advisor and client data. With this unique setup, they can not only build deeper integrations between popular software programs, but they also have the option to easily swap out their software solutions if a newer best in class comes along.

In this episode, Elliot shares the details of his company’s one-of-a-kind structure with a subsidiary broker-dealer, including how the HighTower model ultimately produces significant cost savings—even at a cost of as much as 15 - 20% of a firm’s revenue. Listen in to hear Elliot's unique perspective on the industry, having built and grown his company with a very different model, as well as the inspiring story of how he coped with severe dyslexia, and ultimately turned the challenge into skills that allowed him to excel in the business world.

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Apr 3, 2018

My guest on today’s podcast took over as CEO of Buckingham Strategic Wealth and BAM Advisor Services a little over 10 years ago (at just 32 years old!) and has nearly quintupled its size since then. One of the youngest CEOs of any major advisory firm, Adam Birenbaum leads his organization in serving over 22,000 clients and overseeing more than $30 billion in assets under management.

In this episode, Adam shares the growth strategies that have worked for Buckingham Strategic Wealth and BAM Advisor Services, as well as why the company has chosen to grow offices in multiple locations. Listen in to hear his advice for leaders of large wealth management firms, how he looks at the mergers and acquisitions marketplace today, and what he says will determine the most successful advisory firms in the future.

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Mar 27, 2018

Today’s guest has been able to grow his firm from under $100 million to nearly $35 billion in AUM in just 15 years—without relying on mergers and acquisitions. Peter Mallouk is the president of Creative Planning, one of the largest independent RIAs in the country, and he’s built an organic growth machine through a combination of strategic partnerships and creating a one-stop shop with enough size and scale to deliver the kind of comprehensive value that really makes clients refer.

In this episode, Peter shares what led to his firm’s tremendous growth, as well as why Creative Planning includes not only financial planning and investment services, but also divisions for tax preparation, estate planning, and trust services. He also talks about the broader trends in the advisory industry, how the marketplace is shifting, and the competitive threats that advisory firm owners are going to have to navigate in the coming years.

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Mar 20, 2018

Today’s guest has completely destroyed the myth that hourly financial planning can’t be scaled effectively. Mark Berg is the founder of Timothy Financial Counsel, an advisory firm that does purely hourly financial planning and made $1.4 million in fees last year. Perhaps even more impressively, 75% of the firm’s clients are recurring hourly clients.

In this episode, Mark shares how he was able to successfully scale the reach of Timothy Financial, as well as why his clients are willing to pay between $280 and $400 an hour for financial planning services. Listen in to hear what led to the firm’s whopping 83% close rate on qualified prospects last year, why most advisors fail at hourly financial planning despite the tremendous opportunity in using this model, and so much more.

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Mar 13, 2018

Kevin Kroskey’s journey to success is an amazing story of perseverance and a testament to the power of determination. The founder of True Wealth Design, an independent RIA that serves 160 clients, Kevin has managed to grow his practice to nearly $125 million in AUM after what, for many advisors, would have been a catastrophic setback in his early career: going to prison for 17 months.

In this episode, we talk in depth about Kevin’s unique path to starting his own firm after working as a high school physics teacher, switching to the financial services industry, and then finding his career and life brought to a halt by an "unrelated" criminal conviction. He shares how he managed to take back his life and build his advisory business, as well as his advice about what any advisor can do to persevere through the challenges that life sometimes throws at us.

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Mar 6, 2018

Today’s guest has had a particularly interesting journey in the advisory world. Now the founder of Portfolio Wealth Advisors—an independent RIA that manages nearly $280 million in AUM—Lee Munson managed to build his practice while overcoming a scathing article published about him in the New York Observer.

In this episode, we talk in depth about Lee’s unique career path and how he built his firm to the phenomenally profitable practice it is today. He shares why he deliberately does not meet with clients on a quarterly basis, what he says are the secrets of his success, and so much more.

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Feb 27, 2018

Today’s guest is the founder of Workable Wealth, a virtual financial planning firm that has built more than $200,000 in recurring financial planning fees in just its first four years. As if that weren’t impressive enough, Mary Beth Storjohann built the firm while also raising two small children—now two and a half years and three months old.

In this episode, Mary Beth shares details about her personal journey to success, including valuable insight on a subject that hasn’t been touched on much in this podcast: the very real challenge of balancing life at home with young children while also starting and/or running an advisory firm. Listen in to hear how she managed client relationships and her marketing and growth momentum through her maternity leave, as well as her advice for female advisors on handling the balancing act of starting your own firm when you also want to start a family.

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Feb 20, 2018

What works early on when a firm is just starting out does not tend to work as well once the business starts to grow. Many financial advisors are not prepared for managing a large practice so when it starts to scale and grow, it’s important to re-evaluate how things are structured. Kelli Cruz joins us on the show to share her expertise in human resources management for mid-size to large financial advisory firms. She has a truly unique and effective method to assessing and adjusting the way businesses compensate and incentivize their employees.

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Feb 13, 2018

Carol Anderson is the founder of Money Quotient, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides financial life planning training to advisors. She has spent many years working in financial life planning, and in contrast to the typical criticism of the field, her company has managed to systematize their process.

In this episode, Carol discusses Money Quotient’s unique approach, as well as the psychology and sociology research behind it. Listen in to hear how their tactics set a more holistic tone to financial planning engagement and why Carol says financial life planning isn’t an alternative to traditional financial planning, but rather a better way to help clients develop the self-awareness they need to truly identify what their goals are in the first place.

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Feb 6, 2018

My guest on today’s podcast has followed an uncommon career path leading to financial services, and has quite a unique story when it comes to business evolution, as well. The co-founder of Monument Wealth Management—a hybrid RIA that serves about 120 families and oversees nearly $300 million of assets under management with a team of 11 people—David Armstrong built his early career under a broker-dealer before shifting to a hybrid arrangement with an outside SEC-registered RIA. From there, he is steadily dialing down his amount of broker-dealer business over time as he shifts increasingly toward an AUM-based wealth management model.

In this episode, David shares the story of building and developing his firm, as well as how Monument has systematized everything from financial planning deliverables to their path to partnership to using an engagement letter before taking on a client. Listen in to hear how the team makes the firm’s hybrid model such a success and why their approach to data gathering just might have other firms reconsidering their methods.

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Jan 30, 2018

Today’s guest has a unique business in the advisory world that has managed the kind of growth many dream of achieving. Co-founder of oXYGen Financial, one of the first firms to focus on Gen X and Gen Y clients as their target clientele, Ted Jenkin saw his company go from zero to over 1500 clients in just ten years. Today, his company manages nearly $1 billion of client assets.

In this episode, Ted shares the surprising strategies he used to generate leads and grow his company, as well as what he considers the best ways to use marketing dollars. Listen in to hear what he’s learned along his journey to success, as well as his advice for making the leap to go out on your own.

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Jan 23, 2018

My guest on today's podcast has followed a unusual path to success in the financial planning industry. Sheryl Garrett is the founder of the Garrett Planning Network—a financial advisor support network for fee-only RIA’s with a focus on bringing financial planning to the middle market by making it available on an hourly as-needed basis. After starting her firm with what started out as a very unique business model in the late 1990s, Sheryl’s approach to financial planning became so popular that it attracted other financial advisors who wanted to emulate the model. Eventually, what Sheryl wanted to do for her own clients turned into a network of several hundred advisors, all delivering the same hourly model in their own local markets.

In this episode, Sheryl shares her journey through the financial planning industry, going from struggling early on in a broker-dealer that required her to cold call and sell products to the successful business owner she is today. She talks about the valuable lessons she learned along the way and what ultimately led her to finally start her own firm—a full 10 plus years into her career.

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Jan 16, 2018

Today’s guest is Tim Kochis, the co-founder of Aspiriant, one of the first independent RIA’s to have reached $1 billion of assets under management in the early 2000s. Today the company is one of the industry’s few independent RIA’s focused on comprehensive wealth management to have reached a whopping $10 billion AUM threshold.

In this episode, Tim shares how he was able to grow the company so quickly to become one of the leading RIA’s with a niche focus on working with corporate executives, as well as how he attracted and retained top-notch talent to manage that growth. Listen in to learn how he differentiated his firm and gained credibility even without having a big corporate name on his business card, the insights he has gleaned over the years, and more.

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Jan 9, 2018

Today’s guest has been in the financial services industry for over 25 years. The co-founder of Private Ocean—an independent RIA in Northern California that manages nearly $1.2 billion of assets under management—Greg Friedman has not only been an advisor, but he also founded the country’s leading practice improvement firm for financial advisors, Junxure.

In this episode, Greg shares the unique niche that helped Private Ocean gain its initial traction, as well as how he got started in technology despite not intending to do so. He also shares valuable lessons he learned when he decided to merge his successful advisory firm with a larger one, what he would do differently if he had it to do all over again, and advice for advisors who are just starting out.

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Jan 2, 2018

It is so hard to know what to say to or what to do for a grieving person. The awkwardness fills us up and makes it hard to give grieving people what they need to feel comfort and cared-for. Amy Florian is a thanatologist and expert in grief, death and loss. She joins us on the show to give some incredibly valuable and actionable advice on how to deal with clients, coworkers, friends and family who are grieving.

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Dec 26, 2017

Today's guest is one of the industry’s leading advisor technology gurus. The publisher of the Technology Tools for Today newsletter, Joel Bruckenstein has a nearly 20-year history of writing about advisor technology trends, from publishing regular columns in Horsesmouth, Morningstar Advisor, Financial Advisor, and Financial Planning magazines, to his own newsletter, and now his latest platform, the t3 Technology Hub.

In this episode, Joel discusses recent trends in advisor technology, the results of the latest advisor software survey that he administers along with Bob Veres, and why he says that today is the “golden age” of advisor technology. He also shares the real-world challenges of implementing advisor technology in a typical firm, as well as the biggest areas where advisors can get better ROI from their technology, particularly when it comes to better utilizing CRM software for business intelligence purposes.

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Dec 19, 2017

Today we have a different kind of guest on the show, and he offers a unique perspective for more reasons than one. Not only is Dan Egan a representative of the so-called “robo-advisor” Betterment, but, ironically, he also serves as their Director of Behavioral Finance and Investments. Given that the primary criticism robo-advisors get is for their supposed inability to help clients with their behavioral issues when it comes to investing, Dan provides an interesting viewpoint that is also very informative.

In this episode, Dan shares the real picture of how things work for onboarding clients at businesses like Betterment, how his company tests behavioral finance interventions using a robust scientific process, and what we can all learn from their findings. Listen in to hear the insights they’ve gained, as well as advice that all advisors can apply to improve their own services.

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Dec 12, 2017

Our guest today is one of the very first coaches to specialize in working with financial advisors. For nearly 20 years, Tracy Beckes has helped her clients navigate the common challenges of trying to run what she calls an “effortless, outrageous advisory practice.” What’s even more impressive about Tracy is the way she has been able to systematize her coaching strategies into concrete tools and templates.

In this episode, Tracy shares these coaching tools and how she sets up engagement standards with clients in order to set the terms of the client/advisor relationship. She also talks about the importance of regular meetings within an advisory firm, as well as how to set up these meetings to target the most important issues. Listen in to hear her valuable insight and what she says is the real secret to advisory firm growth.

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Dec 5, 2017

Anna Sergunina is the owner of Mainstreet Financial Planning, an hourly-based financial planning firm under the Garrett Planning Network. Not only has her company grown to more than $600,000 of revenue, but it has done so from simply getting paid to provide hourly financial planning advice with no income at all from insurance products or managing investment portfolios. What’s also fascinating about Anna’s business is the way that she’s figured out how to communicate the value of hourly financial planning by creating very specific financial advice packages for various types of prospective client profiles.

In this episode, we talk in depth about Anna’s five-meeting process for financial planning, how she uses her website to both explain the value of those financial planning packages to prospects and to screen out those who aren’t really likely to take the process seriously, and why she charges $100 as an upfront deposit for an initial inquiry approach meeting with prospects. We also discuss how Anna sets the level for her financial planning fees and the sources of new business that has her firm on track to add more than 100 new hourly financial planning clients this year.

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