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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/67
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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/66
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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/65
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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/64
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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/63
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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/62.
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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/61
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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/60
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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/59
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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/58
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.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/57
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