Donna Skeels Cygan, the President of Sage Future Financial, joins the show to discuss how she runs a firm overseeing nearly $90 million in assets under management and still maintains a work-life balance. After building her first successful firm, Donna decided to sell it and come back three years later to start over again, this time building a much more deliberately-crafted schedule that’s intended to only ever have 40 affluent clients.
In this episode, Donna shares her journey in building her first and second advisory firms, as well as how she decided which clients she wanted to bring to her second firm when starting up again. You’ll learn about her process and the tools she uses, how she employs a virtual assistant to maximize her time with her clients, and why she has no concerns about her ability to remain competitive as a stand-alone solo advisor.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/129
After starting his first of five businesses at the age of 15, there aren’t many business activities Justin Goodbread hasn’t experienced. In 2009, he founded Heritage Investors, an independent RIA based in Knoxville, Tennessee, in hopes of helping individuals, business owners, and retirees attain their financial goals. Today, Justin joins the show to discuss how his firm has crafted a niche in working with small business owners and how they track how each owner’s net worth increases over time.
In this episode, we talk about why Justin finds it more effective to break his advisory fee—which can sometimes be as much as $20,000 a year—into a more cash flow friendly monthly subscription fee. Listen in to learn how he has focused his marketing toward these small business owners and how doing so has ironically brought him more prospects outside his niche. You’ll also hear which five business books he reads every year to run his own advisory business more efficiently.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/128
Jania Stout is the Managing Director and Co-Founder of Fiduciary Plan Advisors at HighTower Advisors, an advisory firm that is focused on 401(k) planning. Her team is responsible for nearly $4 billion in assets across almost 120 businesses. In this episode, we discuss how Jania was able to rapidly grow her business entirely from scratch over the past 5 years, as well as how she built her own personal brand and reputation as a trusted fiduciary advisor.
Listen in to hear Jania share what it takes to service and support mid to large size 401(k) plans and detail the fee structure for her business. You’ll learn why she built and automated a report in her CRM that shows her clients all of the behind-the-scenes work that the firm does on their behalf, how she used LinkedIn to help her business grow, and the challenges she faced when going independent.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/127
Martine Lellis has had a unique career with Sullivan Bruyette Speros & Blayney (SBSB). She started out as an associate advisor, and after seeing the firm sold to a bank, she later moved into a mid-level management role and continued climbing all the way up to become the firm’s Chief Operating Officer and Principal. She then joined four other principals to buy the firm back from the bank, making it private again.
In this episode, Martine shares the process of selling and buying back the firm and how her role has changed throughout the years with SBSB. We also discuss the company’s model for serving affluent clients and why they offer tax preparation services on top of financial planning and investment management. Listen in to find out the challenges that surprised Martine the most and her biggest breakthrough in her career.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/126
With sixteen years of experience in the wealth management industry, Sabrina Lowell is a Certified Financial Planner™ (CFP®) and a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach® (CPCC). With a focus on working with career engaged couples and clients in tech, Sabrina brings her expertise to her workplace at Private Ocean and helps clients form and achieve their goals.
In this episode, she shares the collaborative process of selling Mosaic Financial Partners, Inc. to Private Ocean and how she broke the news to her clients that a transition was going to happen. We discuss how their management team worked with an investment banker and the key filters the firm used to vet their prospective buyers. Listen in to discover the importance of communication when selling or merging a firm and the advice Sabrina wishes she’d had when she started out.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/125
Shirl Penney is the co-founder and CEO of Dynasty Financial Partners, a back and middle office service provider for large independent RIAs. With more than $32 billion on their platform across the 47 advisory firms they support, Dynasty has focused itself purely on being a highly-scaled service provider, while allowing the firms it services to remain completely independent.
In this episode, Shirl opens up about his entrepreneurial journey, as well as how he maintained focus and perseverance during the two and a half years it took for him to be able to take his first paycheck from the business. Listen in to hear how he built his company from zero to 70 employees over a decade, the sacrifices he had to make to get to where he is today, and the key lessons he learned along the way.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/124
My guest today has one of the largest independent RIAs we’ve had on the podcast. Brent Brodeski is the co-founder and CEO of Savant Capital, an independent RIA that oversees more than $6 billion of assets under management for nearly 5,000 clients. With a team of 173 employees, Savant has also shared opportunities for ownership across more than 50 employees at the firm.
In this episode, Brent shares the trajectory of Savant’s almost entirely organic growth to over $6 billion in AUM, as well as how the firm navigated the all-too-common challenge of buying out a co-founder. Listen in to learn how they re-capitalized the firm, the system they put in place to strategically plan for and execute the business’s goals, and how they plan to 10x the firm in the next ten years.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/123
My guest today built his firm as a support platform for independent advisors. Jeff Concepcion is the founder and CEO of Stratos Wealth Partners, a corporate RIA and super OSJ under the LPL platform that oversees over $13 billion of assets under advisement across nearly 300 advisors in 100 different locations.
In this episode, Jeff talks about the challenges he faced launching his firm, because while the business is undeniably successful now, he didn’t take a paycheck out of it for the first three years. Listen in to learn how he got through the tough times he experienced in the beginning, the important lessons he learned about investing in your business, and how he divides up advisory firm tasks to improve efficiency.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/122
Rachel Robasciotti is the founder of Robasciotti & Phillipson, an independent RIA that oversees $140 million of assets for more than 100 individual clients. With 15 years of experience in the industry, Rachel has not only built a successful firm, but also a unique proprietary investment process (dubbed RISE, for Return on Investment and Social Equity) that goes beyond doing socially responsible investing and actually engages her local community to help with the screening process.
In this episode, Rachel shares her path through the financial services industry, including the unique challenges she faced starting a firm not only as a young advisor, but as a young black female who came from a poor upbringing. Listen in to learn how she had handled the pressure to conform to the industry standard expectations of financial advisors, her experience going out on her own at the age of 25, and the important lessons she learned along the way.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/121
Manisha Thakor is the founder of MoneyZen, a financial literacy and education platform focused on empowering women, and the VP of Financial Wellbeing at Brighton Jones, an independent RIA with $5 billion in assets under management. After following quite a unique path into the industry, Manisha built her own platform to share her message of financial literacy for women through speaking gigs and media appearances—despite being an introvert.
In this episode, Manisha shares what it really takes to build a personal finance brand, as well as how she learned to view her introversion as an asset rather than a hindrance. Listen in to learn how she built her confidence, what she wishes she had known earlier, and how she has remained successful by forming relationships, building connections, and relying on the power of being her authentic self.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/120
My guest today keeps up our recent trend of speaking with advisors who serve a unique niche. The founder of Practical Financial Planning, Kenneth Robinson focuses his planning services specifically on Ohio public sector employees. A former public sector employee himself—before he transitioned into financial planning 20 years ago—Kenneth has managed to maximize the efficiency of his practice by developing a specialized knowledge of public sector employee issues and pensions.
In this episode, Kenneth shares how he built his business in such a narrow niche, as well as how his heavy specialization not only built his confidence as an advisor, but also made him comfortable increasing his fees. Listen in to learn how he structures his business, tips for dealing with toxic clients, and powerful advice he has received over the years.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/119
Jared Reynolds is a partner at Wilkerson & Reynolds, an advisory firm that oversees nearly $160 million in assets under management. With a heavy focus on working with small business owners and their 401k plans, Jared has grown his business by serving a niche of bass fisherman, for whom he regularly organizes fishing and hunting trip expeditions as prospecting activities.
In this episode, Jared shares how he turned his passion into an effective business model, as well as his experience building his firm into the success it is today. Listen in to learn his strategy for networking and building relationships while having fun, what kind of marketing activities he’s found to develop the best prospects, and how any advisor can create a similar opportunity with his or her own hobbies and passions.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/118
Josh Patrick is the founder of Stage 2 Planning, an independent RIA with a niche focus on working with small business owners. Leveraging his own personal experience as a small business owner—before he transitioned into his second career as a financial planner—Josh has been able to create a deeply specialized advice process for his clients that commands retainer fees in excess of $50,000 per year.
In this episode, Josh shares what he has done to make his expertise known and build a steady flow of prospects who seek him out. Listen in to learn what he says most advisors don’t understand about building a successful business, the important lessons he learned while building his own, and what advisors can do to lessen the demands of their businesses on themselves, while simultaneously making significantly more profit.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/117
My guest today is one of the pioneers of financial planning under the RIA model. Harold Evensky is the co-founder and chairman of Evensky & Katz / Foldes Financial, an independent RIA in South Florida that oversees nearly $1.5 billion in assets under management. With over thirty years of experience in the field, Harold literally wrote the book on taking a holistic, goals-based wealth management approach to portfolio design with his 1997 publication, Wealth Management: The Financial Advisor's Guide to Investing and Managing Client Assets.
In this episode, Harold shares his experience starting an RIA in the early days of the independent advisor movement, before platforms like Schwab Advisor Services even existed. Listen in to learn what he did to help his firm compete against mega wirehouses, how the industry has evolved in the three decades since he started, and what it will take for financial planning to truly be recognized as a profession by the public.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/116
My guest today has crafted a niche of not just serving, but also trying to empower female clients. Hilary Hendershott is the founder of Hendershott Wealth Management, an independent RIA that oversees nearly $75 million of assets under management, as well as the creator of a coaching program for women trying to accumulate wealth and the host of a very successful podcast focused on helping women take control of their finances.
In this episode, Hilary shares her professional journey and how she grew her business into the success it is today. Listen in to learn how she set up and leveraged her podcast to grow her client base, how she overcame impostor syndrome to build up her confidence as a financial planner, and her advice for women just starting out in the industry.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/115
Dennis Moseley-Williams is the founder of DMW Strategic Consulting, a boutique consulting firm that works with financial advisors to help them design and deliver a great client experience. Not simply focused on how to improve client service, Dennis studied under Joseph Pine, co-author of the seminal book The Experience Economy, and is trained in applying the book’s concepts specifically to the domain of financial advisors.
In this episode, Dennis breaks down the difference between simply giving better service and a creating truly distinct experience. Listen in to learn what practical steps you can take to start adapting your firm toward improving client experience, how to more effectively target who you want to serve, and so much more.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/114
My guest today has made it her mission to empower women to take control of their finances. Stacy Francis is the president and CEO of Francis Financial, an independent RIA with a unique niche focus on recent widows and women going through the divorce process. She is also the founder of Savvy Ladies, a nonprofit focused on improving the financial wellbeing of all women.
In this episode, Stacy opens up about the challenging family situation that led her to enter the financial services industry to help women in particular, as well as why she says today’s market is the worst one for divorcees that we’ve seen in nearly a decade. Listen in to learn how she built her business up to managing nearly $280 million in assets, why she hired business coaches for both herself and her team, and how making the decision to go all-in on a niche has helped Francis Financial grow as much in the past three years as it did in the 15 years leading up to the change.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/113
Andrea Schlapia is the founder of Ironstone, a practice management coaching and consulting firm for financial advisors who are struggling with the business execution challenges of transitioning from a practice to a business. Building upon her own experience as a financial advisor and a practice management consultant, Andrea has developed what she calls the “fundamental four” pillars of practice management, as well as tools and strategies to support each one.
In this episode, she shares her fundamental four framework and where most advisory firms struggle within those key elements of running a successful business. Listen in to learn how often Andrea advises firms to take development days to work solely on the business, why she says it’s so important to be ultra-selective when hiring and developing your team, and her specific process for assessing prospective hires and training staff to ensure her team stays as strong as possible.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/112
Today I’m joined by our first international guest, who gives us a look at not only what financial advisor businesses look like in other parts of the world, but also how all advisors should start looking at their value propositions. Jim Stackpool is the founder of Certainty Advice Group, a practice management consulting firm for financial advisors based in Australia. With a unique focus on how to price and demonstrate the true value of financial advice, Jim is a firm believer that the expert value of advisors should be distinct from the products we implement.
In this episode, Jim shares what advisors need to consider when it comes to setting fees, as well as his advice for demonstrating value instead of simply justifying prices. Listen in to learn how to know whether your advisory services are priced appropriately, what many advisors fail to understand when it comes to being business owners, and what firms everywhere should be doing to make advice more valuable.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/111
My guest today transitioned from working over 70 hours per week to refining his practice to the point that he’s now only in the office for four months out of the year. Micah Shilanski is a partner with Shilanski & Associates, an independent RIA in Anchorage, Alaska that oversees nearly $130 million of assets under management for almost 160 client households. Focused on a niche of helping federal employees with their retirement benefits, the firm has streamlined its processes and increased efficiency to maintain Micah’s unique schedule while still growing 20% per year.
In this episode, Micah shares how he’s managed to grow such a profitable practice despite his time out of the office, as well as the steps he’s taken to make the most of the time he does spend working at the firm. Listen in to learn how he sets client expectations about his unusual schedule from the very beginning, how he differentiates his practice to justify their above-average fees, and advice for any advisor who wants to improve his or her own efficiency at work.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/110
Jon Guyton sits at an interesting intersection of the advisor world. The founder of Cornerstone Wealth Advisors—an independent RIA that oversees $240 million in AUM for mostly retiree clients—Jon runs an advisory business that implements the very retirement strategies he researched and published a number of important and influential articles about in the mid-2000s.
In this episode, Jon shares his unique approach to retirement planning, including how and why he separates out client retirement expenses into two distinct categories. Listen in to learn how he is applying his own research to the way he works with clients, the sustainable retirement income framework he utilizes in his practice, and how he went from qualifying for the low-income EIC tax credit in his first year of business to running an incredibly successful firm.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/109
My guest today is Lisa Kirchenbauer, founder and president of Omega Wealth Management. Lisa’s firm oversees more than $100 million of assets for nearly 100 affluent clients, with whom they’ve been able to form deep relationships by implementing George Kinder’s EVOKE life planning process. And yet, even with the close relationships Lisa has with her clients, she has achieved what most advisors consider impossible: taking two six-week sabbaticals in the past six years.
In this episode, Lisa shares how she works with her staff to prepare the firm, train the team, and transition tasks so that she can step away from the business completely. Listen in to learn the steps she took to train her clients to become less dependent on her and more comfortable working with the other members of her team, how she breaks the news to clients about her taking time off, and the lessons she's learned throughout the experience that will change how she does her next sabbatical.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/108
Roger Whitney is a partner with WWK Wealth Advisors, an independent RIA where he works with a personal client base of retirees with $75 million of assets under management. Perhaps even more impressively, he’s been able to attract almost $50 million of those assets in just the past two years by launching a niche podcast on retirement.
In this episode, Roger shares why and how he built his Retirement Answer Man podcast, as well as how he transitions listeners into prospects. Tune in to learn what makes his unique approach to retirement management so effective, what he’s doing to serve the subset of podcast listeners who are unlikely to hire him as their financial advisor, and advice for up-and-coming advisors who hope to follow a similar path to success.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/107
My guest today works with financial advisors to teach them how to handle a tricky area for a lot of firms: working with widows. Kathleen Rehl is a speaker, trainer, and researcher specializing in the particular challenges of widowhood and how advisors can be more effective in dealing with these issues. Also the author of Moving Forward on Your Own: A Financial Guidebook for Widows, Kathleen spent seventeen years working as a financial advisor before becoming a widow herself and shifting her focus to helping other women in similar circumstances.
In this episode, she talks in depth about what advisors need to understand about helping widows through their financial transitions, as well as what to say and what not to say in the process. Listen in to hear how to avoid pushing the wrong financial issues after the death of a client’s spouse, tips for handling the three stages of widowhood, and what Kathleen’s research tells us about how financial planning affects widows’ outlook and confidence in their financial future.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/106
Chip Munn is the co-founder and managing partner of Signature Wealth, a hybrid wealth management firm on the Raymond James platform that has quickly gone from $300 million to over $1 billion of assets in just the past few years. With a focus on buying books of business from retiring advisors and handing them off to younger advisors, the firm’s tremendous growth comes not only from their unique acquisition strategy, but also from the particular set of freedoms an independent RIA has to try out different technology tools and marketing strategies.
In this episode, Chip shares what it was like transitioning from a regional broker-dealer to the independent model, as well as the challenges and surprises he faced along the way. Listen in to hear how he has successfully built his firm by following his passion for helping out those new to the industry, his approach for positioning young lead advisors as part of a team to make transitioning clients comfortable, and why it’s so important to support advisory firms that have chosen the independent model.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/105