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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/56
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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/55
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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/54
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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/53
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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/52
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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/51
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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/50
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.
For show notes and more visit https://www.kitces.com/49
Today’s guest is the CEO of Graham Strategy, a marketing consulting firm that helps financial advisors craft relevant marketing messages to reach their target clientele. Gail Graham has had a fascinating career spanning a wide range of advisory businesses, and she has held a similar marketing role as she moved from the private wealth division of PNC Bank to Fidelity’s Private Client Group, and later to her position as Chief Marketing Officer for United Capital. The experience she has gained over the years means she truly understands what it takes to successfully market an intangible like financial planning services.
In this episode, we talk in depth about how to more effectively communicate financial planning and its value, as well as why financial advisors need to get clear about who their ideal client is. We also discuss why it’s absolutely essential to focus in order to find the right marketing messages that really resonate and Gail’s process for finding and refining your own value proposition.
For show notes and more visit https://www.kitces.com/48
Today’s guest is the Director of Operations for Sequoia Financial Group, a hybrid RIA that manages more than $3.7 billion and spans four office locations. Shaun Kapusinski started out in the industry over fifteen years ago as a financial advisor selling life insurance, but made a shift early in his career to the operations side of the business. Since then, he has been able to grow his career by following an operations career track instead of the more traditional paths.
In this episode, we talk about the organizational structure of his mega advisory firm, how they split apart a division of shared services, and why the firm is looking to make a shift to Salesforce Financial Services Cloud for their next stage of growth. We also talk about Shaun’s own unique career path, as well as why he believes that getting an MBA may be more valuable for those in the operations side.
Tune in to hear Shaun’s valuable insight as he shares what he has learned throughout his impressive career.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/47
Today’s guest, Susan Bradley, is the founder of Sudden Money Institute, which trains financial advisors to work with clients who experience an abrupt increase in their finances. These so-called “sudden money transitions” can come from a personal injury settlement, an inheritance, a divorce settlement, or any other swift influx of money, and they require a unique skill set from advisors.
That’s why Sudden Money Institute trains advisors through a designation program called The CeFT (Certified Financial Transitionist). In this episode, we talk in depth about why advisors need to understand how to help clients through sudden money transitions, the requirements and benefits of earning a CeFT, how Sudden Money Institute facilitates productive conversations with clients, and more.
For show notes and more visit https://www.kitces.com/46
Today’s guest is Rebecca Pomering, the Chief Practice Officer of Moss Adams, a mega accounting firm with more than $600 million in revenue and 2,800 employees, as well as a wealth management division with more than $2.1 billion in assets under management. After starting in the financial advisor consulting division at the age of 23, Rebecca took over the firm’s wealth advisors by the time she turned 30—right before the 2008 financial crisis—and has since nearly tripled the size of the firm.
Rebecca’s fascinating personal career spans consulting, leadership, and executive roles, and today you’ll hear the lessons she learned along the way. Listen in to hear how she managed to grow a wealth management firm within an established accounting firm, changes she had to make to keep Moss Adams on track during the market crash, her advice for young advisors, and so much more.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/45
At the age of 30 he has already executed a successful succession plan and more than doubled the size of the practice. He explains the unique structure of the company and goes into detail about the succession plan he was a part of.
Jake talks about the up-front payment system they have and how it works for the variety of clients they serve. services they provide and how they help both the client and them as a business. He also talks about how important tracking, systematizing and creating processes is crucial to the success of the practice.
For show notes and more visit https://www.kitces.com/44
Selling your business is like handing off your child in a way and it is well known that succession plans can often be messy, confusing and hard to navigate. Marty Kurtz is on the show today to share his impressive journey. We get to hear the details from the beginning stages of building a successful company with strong partnerships, to handing off the baton and creating a succession plan that is best for everyone involved.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/43
Carol Craigie is to co-founder of the Fiscal Fitness Clubs of America, a financial wellness company that aims to expand the reach of financial advice using a combination of online education and group classes.
Elaine shares how her advisory firm fee structure evolved, from initially doing standalone financial planning project fees to her current blended AUM plus upfront planning fee model, the unique engagement process that she uses, and the way that she breaks up her upfront planning fee into an initial series of ongoing payments in the first three months, to helping clients get into completing the process.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/41
Phillip is the founder and CEO of Ensemble Practice, talks about different ways that advisors can share equity in becoming the multi-professional advisory firm and what it takes to actually introduce a new second generation to the firm.
For show notes and more visit https://www.kitces.com/40
Learn how behavioral assessment tools could eventually become a way that we show our value as financial advisors where we provide the assessment and show them how we’re helping them change their financial attitudes and behaviors for the better.
Access full episode show notes at kitces.com/39.
How you can use social media as a successful path to marketing and specifically to facilitate work life balance. In this episode, the chat with Winnie Sun, co-founder of Sun Financial Group.
Winnie explores what’s functioning when it comes to online social media marketing and why she still balances spending two thirds of her time in wealth management and business. She also talks about how she structured her team with her partner to support her practice.
Get full episode show notes at kitces.com/38
Today’s guest has seen her company go from gaining nearly 150 clients over a decade to yielding four prospect inquiries per week. How did they do it? Let’s just say Johanna Fox Turner has discovered the power of finding a niche. Her fee-only financial advisory firm, Fox & Company, recently switched to focusing on physicians as its specialty. It has since seen such rapid growth – there is now a six to eight week waiting list for new clients.
On this episode, Johanna shares with us how she managed her company’s change in focus – restructuring their advisory fees from an AUM model to a three-tiered retainer structure. We also learn how she has been able to generate a high volume of referrals through unique centers of influence.
Johanna explains how she broke the news of shifting into a niche to her existing clients, and why her existing non-doctor clients have stayed with her as she focuses into her new doctor niche.
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: www.kitces.com/37
We routinely bang the drum for choosing a niche and throwing all your effort at it - and Scott Hanson’s firm, Hanson McClain, is proof that this technique works.
The combination of dedicated, long-term marketing strategies and a niche of retiring utility workers has helped Scott and his partner Pat turn their business into a national advisory firm that serves about 4500 clients. And his firm handles all marketing for advisors, so advisors can focus on providing financial planning services rather than worrying about business development.
In this interview, Scott talks about the major investment his $2.5 billion AUM firm has made in marketing, including hiring ten-plus marketing staff. And be sure to listen to the end, where Scott talks about the decision to sell 70% stake in his business in order to help the business keep growing strong well into the future.
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: www.kitces.com/36
Cheryl Holland's firm, Abacus Planning Group, is based in Columbia, South Carolina. Working in a mid-sized city such as Columbia might prove tricky for other advisors, but her niche working with families who hold business and other close assets has set her apart. Coupled with her natural drive and a willingness to keep learning, Cheryl has build a firm that rests on the core tenets of learning, growth, empathy, and challenging work.
In this interview, Cheryl talks about how she built Abacus, why she invests so heavily in every one of her employees, and what she’s done to systematize just about every process in the office. She shares how technology has helped drive the growth of her firm, and why she’s put such a strong emphasis on teaching her team (and herself!) how to be keen listeners as well as talented financial advisors.
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: www.kitces.com/35
Sheryl’s firm Rowling & Associates was already a robust planning practice before she decided to design and launch a rebalancing software that would be affordable and simple to use. In this interview, she shares the challenges of running concurrent businesses, what she wished she knew before diving into the software world, and what she learned about life and work while managing two related but demanding ventures.
She’s also a fierce advocate for work-life balance and has built a practice that allows employees to serve clients to a high standard while also carving out time for the rest of their lives. Sheryl shares the structure of her firm today, along with her hiring philosophy and how she manages such great, holistic relationships with clients.
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: www.kitces.com/34
Building a business is already hard. Building a successful wealth management business in a rural area, where there aren’t as many potential clients, is even harder. Meet Jeff Rose, the founder of Alliance Wealth Management, who will be sharing how his business is now managing over $40 million while making over $100k on the side from referrals and partnerships.
Digital marketing is the main key to Jeff’s success. Ever since he got his first online client thanks to his blogging and online presence, his focus has shifted to taking advantage of the internet’s potential for connection. Jeff shares how he’s built up his online presence to make his business known locally and to a wider audience. He also gives us details on how he forged partnerships with insurance agencies and other services to provide more value to his customers while making money on the side.
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: www.kitces.com/33
In this episode, Brittney Castro shares why and how she’s diversified her business and how she’s found great success in all three pillars.
Brittney radiates passion for finance, marketing, and entrepreneurship as she talks about her business and the strategies she used to get where she is today. Her financial planning practice, Financially Wise Women, has successfully resonated with her niche due to her attention to what really matters. Brittney keeps things simple, from the fees she charges to the processes she uses to plan.
By being in tune with her customers’ needs and maintaining personal limits on time and focus, Brittney has been able to build a reputable and successful brand. She shares the numbers with us and gives a closer look at what she has paid for projects and employees and how she has set up her massively successful marketing outreach. She also digs into the details of how she gets paid to represent brands and the process she went through, and is currently going through, to develop her own online content and courses.
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: www.kitces.com/32