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
My guest today is here to help with one of the most common challenges we face as advisors: getting clients to actually follow through and implement our financial advice. The founder of Sage Financial Solutions, an organization that provides Financial Fitness Coach (FFC) and Accredited Personal Financial Coach (APFC) training and certification programs, Saundra Davis teaches advisors skills and techniques that will help clients make lasting behavior change.
In this episode, Saundra shares how her approach of financial coaching differs from the typical approach of financial planning, as well as how it leads advisors to navigate the client discovery process in a substantively different way. Listen in to hear how both approaches complement each other, why it’s important to guide clients to making discoveries on their own rather than telling them the answers, and what we can do as advisors to not only give technically accurate advice, but also help clients to improve their financial behaviors.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/104
My guest today is here to talk about a kind of success that hasn’t been covered much on the podcast: building a career within a larger firm instead of going independent. Kathleen Kenealy is the Managing Director and Senior Wealth Advisor for Boston Private Wealth—a private bank and trust company that oversees nearly $8 billion of assets under management—and while she manages more than $300 million for seventy-five client households, she isn’t actually responsible for bringing in clients. Instead, she focuses her time on doing financial planning for the firm’s clients and improving the financial planning processes within the company, which recently earned her recognition as an InvestmentNews 40 under 40 honoree.
In this episode, Kathleen opens up about what it’s like to work within a larger advisory firm that has separated out prospecting and business development from financial planning work, as well as how she’s been able to find job opportunities with companies that reward her for being a great financial planner without requiring her to find clients herself. Listen in to hear how she found her way into the financial planning world and navigated her unique career path, why she chose to work within larger firms rather than going out on her own, and where she plans to end up in the long run as she follows this corporate career path.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/103
There has been a lot of buzz over the past couple of years about the breakaway trend that has seen sizeable advisory firms moving away from wirehouses, and my guest today very recently went through that process himself. After spending the first decade of his career at Merrill Lynch, Michael Henley moved on to become co-founder and CEO of Brandywine Oak Private Wealth, an independent advisory firm that manages more than $500 million of client assets, at just thirty-four years old.
In this episode, Michael shares what made him decide to go independent after he’d been so loyal to Merrill Lynch that he had a bull-shaped wedding cake, as well as how he handled the breakaway transition not quite going the way he expected. Listen in to hear what it was like for him to build an advisory firm in the wirehouse environment, the unique way he created the necessary startup capital to fund his transition, and how the grass is—and isn’t—greener in the independent channel.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/102
My guest today comes from a different background than my usual guests, and she’s here to answer the fundamental question of why clients sometimes don’t take the advice we give them. Dr. Moira Somers is a clinical neuropsychologist who studies the complexities of how hard it is for people to change their behaviors, especially when it comes to money. Moira has applied her financial psychology expertise not just to consumers themselves, but also to teaching advisors how to better deliver advice in a way that actually sticks.
In this episode, we discuss how patient compliance research from the medical field is being applied to help clients better adhere to financial advice, as well as how to assess whether someone is truly ready to apply what an advisor suggests. Listen in to learn why it’s unrealistic to expect even good-intentioned clients to always follow through on advice, why it’s important to measure client adherence, and specific steps advisors can take to improve the way they deliver advice in order to significantly increase the likelihood that it will be followed.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/101
Joe Duran is the founder and CEO of United Capital, a national independent RIA that oversees nearly $25 billion of assets under management and consistently ranks as one of the nation's fastest-growing wealth counseling firms. However, Joe doesn’t view his firm as being in the wealth management business; he sees it as being in the financial life management—or FinLife—business, because, as he puts it, the primary focus of the company is to help clients live richly, not die richly.
In this episode, Joe opens up about the unique approach that has seen United Capital grow to more than $200 million of revenue in under 15 years, as well as what holds many advisors back from experiencing similar growth. Listen in to hear what he says is the secret to scaling an advisory business, the major shifts he predicts for the financial planning world, and his advice for new advisors coming into the industry today.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/100
As advisors, many of us have been taught that it’s a bad idea to discuss religion or politics with clients, but my guest today disagrees with this conventional wisdom. In fact, he has found that focusing on religion has actually been good for business. Rob West is the president of Kingdom Advisors, a membership organization that supports financial advisors who want to serve Christians as their niche market segment and boasts 70% growth over the last five years.
In this episode, Rob shares how he has successfully integrated faith and finance into his business, from incorporating nearly 23,000 passages from the Bible about money and possessions into financial planning conversations with clients to developing a training program and supporting Certified Kingdom Advisor® designation to be “the gold standard for delivering biblically wise financial advice.” Listen in to hear how he has formed a niche in an underserved majority, and why combining your values with your work is important not only for differentiation, but also for finding purpose and significance in what you do.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/99
My guest today has not only gone against the conventional wisdom of never talking politics with clients, but he’s based his entire business on that very subject. Zach Teutsch is the founder of Values Added Financial, an independent RIA that focuses on working with progressive Democrats. And while this undoubtedly drives some prospects away, it has also quickly accelerated the growth of his firm, which has reached more than $300,000 in recurring retainer fees in less than 18 months.
In this episode, Zach shares how picking a niche—even one based on politics—can actually be quite effective, as well as what he’s done to leverage this fact. Listen in to hear what kinds of clients he has been able to attract with his targeted messaging, how he’s created a pricing model specifically to fit his clientele, and how the way he’s structured his firm has gotten him to the point where he no longer has to choose between work that feels good and being financially successful.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/98
My guest today brings a very different perspective to the show, not just because of the clients she works with and how she runs her practice, but also because of her unusual path into the industry. After transitioning from working as a math teacher to offering financial coaching and counseling to doing financial planning work, Phuong Luong founded Just Wealth, a virtual, fee-only, hourly financial planning practice focused on working with younger clients who are still in the wealth-building phase of their careers. Having worked extensively with low-income individuals and people of color, Phuong has seen firsthand the racial and socioeconomic challenges that impact their ability to build wealth.
In this episode, she shares how stereotypes about race and low-income individuals can become blocking points when it comes to giving them effective advice and helping them to reach their financial goals. Listen in to learn how many of the financial challenges people of color face can be traced back to past institutional and government policies, how this may be limiting the reach of financial planning to minority communities, and what we can do to help.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/97
Stephanie Bogan is a successful practice management consultant who teaches advisors how to run an advisory business as a business. After building and selling her first consulting firm, Stephanie has gone on to found a new one called the Limitless Adviser Coaching Program, not because she needed to do so, but as a way to have a greater positive impact on the advisor community.
In this episode, Stephanie shares what she calls the seven pillars of building and running a successful advisory firm, as well as the important mindset shift that really creates business breakthroughs. Listen in to learn the common mental constructs that hold too many advisors back, the key to success and satisfaction with your advisory business, and how to execute your vision to turn it into reality.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/96
My guest today has seen what it’s like to build an advisory business and what it’s like to build a business for advisors. Previously a co-founder of IPS Advisor Pro—the first software for doing investment policy statements in a standardized way—Linda Lubitz Boone is now the founder of The Lubitz Financial Group, an independent RIA in that oversees nearly $250 million of AUM for 125 affluent clients. Yet, despite having reached a phenomenal level of success, Linda continues to proactively make changes to improve her advisory firm.
In this episode, she shares how she continues to evolve her business, from the service providers she uses to support the business to the very business model itself. Listen in to learn why she decided to outsource her back office investment operations, how she is shifting her own role within the business, and what she's doing to build trust with her clients.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/95
Today’s guest has built a high-margin solo practice with quite an unusual structure. The founder of Bason Asset Management, James Osborne grew his advisory firm to over $225 million of AUM and nearly $400,000 of revenue by charging his clients a simple flat fee of $4,800—regardless of their assets. And he managed to do so by the age of thirty-five.
In this episode, James shares why he decided not to follow the traditional AUM model, as well as the benefits of his flat-fee approach. Listen in to learn why he chose to build a business model that fits his personal lifestyle and family goals, why he isn’t working to gain more clients and hire staff, and what he plans to do in order to maintain his high-income lifestyle practice once he reaches his personal capacity.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/94
My guest today has one of the most fascinating practices and niches in the advisor space. Sunit Bhalla is the founder of Oak Tree Financial Planning, a solo advisory firm that oversees more than $40 million in assets under management in a hyper-targeted niche of engineers. A former engineer himself, Sunit has been able to build nearly $300,000 in revenue—with an 85% profit margin—by working with just 17 affluent clients.
In this episode, he shares how he built his highly efficient solo practice with a relentless focus on staying focused. Listen in to hear about his unique financial planning process, why he offers all his prospective clients just one comprehensive financial planning and investment management service, and what he says all advisors should focus on in order to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/93
Today’s guest is an expert at operations and systems. Jennifer Goldman is the founder of an eponymous practice management consulting firm that works intimately with advisory firms on their operations, technology, workflows, and processes. After starting her career as a financial advisor and transitioning to operations leadership roles at two more advisory firms, Jennifer ultimately decided to go out on her own as a consultant.
In this episode, Jennifer shares her personal journey to building her own consulting practice, as well as the important lessons she learned while scaling her business. Listen in to hear the key mentality shift she had to make in order to transform from an advisor to a business owner, what it really means to adopt and implement workflows and processes into an advisory firm, and why it’s so important for business owners to do just that in order to grow and scale their firms without losing themselves in the process.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/92
My guest today trains and coaches financial advisors on how to ask the right questions in order to have better conversations with clients. Mitch Anthony is the co-founder of ROLAdvisor, a coaching community that helps practices transform into Life-Centered Planning firms. With his truly unique gift for finding the right words for effective client conversations, Mitch describes the value of financial planning itself based on six principles that all advisors should take into account.
In this episode, we talk about the real value that financial advisors provide, as well as the best way to communicate this to clients and prospects. Listen in to hear Mitch’s advice for effective client conversations, the problem with the traditional focus of benchmarking an advisor’s return on investments, and why he is more focused on providing what he calls a “return on life.”
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/91
My guest today has not only had a unique journey into the financial planning world, but she also brings a very different approach and perspective to the field. Julie Murphy is the founder and Chief Visionary Officer of JMC Wealth Management, a dual-registered advisory firm that serves more than 200 clients with $200 million of AUM—on top of generating nearly $300,000 a year in recurring planning fees. With financial conversations that are heavily focused around the intersections of money, our emotions, and our energy flow, Julie’s firm offers a distinctive focus on financial healing.
In this episode, Julie shares how was able to accelerate her success and growth by doing what she calls “letting her freak flag fly” and simply being her authentic self. Listen in to hear how she’s allowing clients who are interested in what she has to offer to be drawn to her (rather than trying to advertise out to them), how she transitioned into doing only the things that make her happy in her business, and what she says is a critical component for people to be successful.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/90
My guest today has built one of the largest successful advisory businesses in the country. Ric Edelman is the founder and executive chairman of Edelman Financial Services, a mega-independent RIA with more than $22 billion in AUM, with 165 advisors serving 36,000 clients across 43 office locations from coast to coast. After starting out like any other financial advisor—selling mutual funds in the 1980s as an individual advisor—Ric has spent the last thirty years ultimately building a marketing machine that brought in a whopping 45,000 prospects to his firm last year alone.
In this episode, Ric shares how he grew and scaled Edelman Financial over time, as well as how his marketing of the firm has evolved over the years. Listen in to hear why he considers it the firm’s job to bring in new clients (and the role of advisors to simply service those clients), how he would do things differently if he were starting fresh today, and advice for advisors who are thinking about or actively building a practice from scratch.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/89
Today we’re going to talk about a topic that makes many financial advisors cringe: sales. But despite the negative reaction many people within the industry have to this topic, my guest today is here to explain why “sales” actually isn’t a dirty word. Nancy Bleeke is the founder of Sales Pro Insider, a training platform for financial advisors that teaches how to better turn prospects into actual clients, and she’s here today to share how to take a comfortable and ethical approach to selling that really works.
In this episode, Nancy shares her somewhat nontraditional sales training approach that simply focuses on having a structure to conversations with prospects to ultimately help them make a decision or take an action at the end. Listen in to hear her expert advice for how to talk to both prospects and clients using the WIIFT™ structure—which is both focusing on what’s in it for them and a five-step conversation process—the big mistakes many financial advisors make that scare away potential clients, and what it takes to increase both your comfort level and the comfort level of your prospects when it comes to selling.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/88