Today I’m chatting with Sophia Bera, the founder of Gen Y Planning. Sophia was the subject of a post on Nerd’s Eye View back in 2013 when she was starting her firm. Four years on, she’s bringing home more than $100,000 in revenue and serving about 50 clients on a monthly retainer model.
Sophia’s firm is another example of just how powerful a niche can be. Although peers told her that millennials would be a challenging and non-lucrative group to serve, she quickly found that advisors were lacking, not millennial clients.
In this episode, Sophia breaks down her fee structure and service model. Sophia’s experience with traditional firms, financial startups, and running her own business make her uniquely suited to consulting clients and other financial planners alike on their various options for financial management.
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: https://www.kitces.com/12
Alan and I co-founded XY Planning Network in 2013, but he had to go through a lot of growth and challenges before he got there. Three years later, Alan firmly believes that being your own boss is safer than letting one person (your boss) be in control of your income.
In this episode, Alan and I talk about his internship with Rick Kahler and subsequent job, during which he learned that being an associate advisor in someone else’s firm wasn’t a good fit.
We then dig into Alan’s transition to entrepreneurship, the practice he started from scratch, and the financial ups and downs of making it happen. He shares his motivation for creating a specific niche for other young financial planners and why he’ll never go back to working for anyone else. We wrap up with some of the growing pains of building a business, and how to make sure being an entrepreneur stays fun amid all the hard work.
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: https://www.kitces.com/11
In this interview, Eric gives us some background about Austin Asset today and its incredible growth since he joined the firm in 1997. He shares candidly about how he and his mentor John Henry McDonald complemented each other as they navigated the challenges of a growing firm.
While we discuss the nuts-and-bolts of succession planning, we also touch on the oft-ignored emotional aspects of such a transition. Eric also talks about the book he co-wrote on the subject, Success and Succession, which he hopes will make this natural part of the industry less lonely and more navigable for all financial planners.
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: https://www.kitces.com/10
Today on Financial Advisor Success, I’m excited to host Dr. Carolyn McClanahan of Life Planning Partners. Carolyn is a physician and financial planner based out of Jacksonville, Florida, where her truly holistic ensemble practice works with 80 clients and maintains more than $1 million a year of stable recurring income.
In this episode, Carolyn lays out the infrastructure & beliefs of her firm and shares the client standards document that ensures she only works with considerate, responsive, all-around awesome clients.
Carolyn also talks about how she adjusts her complexity-based fee for each client, why she doesn’t want to grow beyond 100 client families, the hard lessons she learned about hiring, and the parallels she sees between medicine and financial planning. We wrap up with a discussion of her new company that plans to make it easier for financial planners to navigate working with aging clients to ensure their long term financial stability.
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: https://www.kitces.com/9
David Grau Sr. talks about how he helped start a business at the wholly unique intersection of financial services, technology, and consulting that is FP Transitions’ bread and butter.
We also discuss the four sectors that David and his team break the industry into - books, practices, businesses, and firms - and the critical differences between them. David also shares his potentially controversial (or at least counterintuitive) perspective on compensation, which by now is an industry standard. (We’d love to hear your thoughts on this!)
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: https://www.kitces.com/8
In this episode, Matt talks about how he transformed a stagnant firm into a profitable lifestyle practice with the help of his father Nathaniel (the founder of Jarvis) and his two excellent office staff. He outlines the business’ metrics, service model, and the infrastructure he’s built to ensure his clients get excellent service even if he’s not in the office.
We also talk about industry criticism of lifestyle practices and the heavy investment Matt and his team have made in the technology that keeps the business running. He discusses the future of the practice and the factors he weighs when considering new clients, including potentially spending less time with his family.
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: https://www.kitces.com/7
Eleanor Blayney talks about the challenges of growing an independent RIA in a male dominated industry. She was one of the founding partners of Sullivan, Bruyette, Speros & Blayney. The firm grew to a billion dollars in AUM before it was sold to Harris Bank in 2003. She focuses on serving the needs of women - both as clients and as advisors in the profession.
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: https://www.kitces.com/6
Mark Tibergien is the current CEO of Pershing Advisor Solutions, an advisement firm custodian to some of the wealthiest practices and clients in the world. Pershing is part of BNY Mellon, which oversees $33 trillion in assets globally. Mark was formerly a part of Moss Adams, where he pioneered the benchmarking studies that helped define and continue to shape the industry today.
In this episode, you’ll hear about how Mark got recruited into the early financial planning world back when he was still an aspiring journalist. He then talks about how his benchmark studies at Moss Adams helped him become one of the foremost authorities on professional practice management. Mark also shares the four stages of an advisory firm’s lifecycle, and the key roles that great leadership and people skills play in the establishment of a successful firm.
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: https://www.kitces.com/5
Deb Wetherby, owner of Wetherby Asset Management. The challenges and accomplishments Deb and her team have weathered provide an excellent case study in leadership, growth, and resource development. They have been intentional about creating systems that will facilitate growth while maintaining their focus on client management and high-quality customer service. We cover a number of topics on this episode that entrepreneurs with any aspiration for expansion should seriously consider.
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: https://www.kitces.com/4
Julie Littlechild is a speaker, writer, and researcher focused on understanding and improving financial advisors’ engagement with their teams and their clients. She is now the founder of Absolute Engagement, a firm that provides ongoing research into personal, client, and team engagement to support a dynamic business. One of her primary subjects of research, which is especially relevant helping financial advisors get more and better quality referrals from clients that will help grow your practice.
Julie talks about how she got drawn into the world of financial advisors in the first place and how she knew coaching wasn’t the right fit for her. We then discuss why satisfied clients often don’t translate into quality referrals, and the steps you can take to increase the number of referrals you do get. Julie also shares the experience of selling her coaching business
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: https://www.kitces.com/3
It’s taken Ron Carson considerable energy and determination to get where he is today, and this interview sheds light on all the hard work he’s done to build such an impressive career. While it may seem like successful people simply spring into existence, I hope these interviews show you that all financial planners encounter triumphs and obstacles alike.
Ron talks candidly his humble beginnings and the moment of physical, emotional, and professional burnout that actually turned into his career-making opportunity. He also shares the mistakes he’s made along the way, including his slow adaptation of technology and hesitance to invite other über-talented people into his practice’s inner circle. We then discuss Ron’s thoughts on making your employees into shareholders, and how he juggles the advising, mentoring, and charitable businesses he’s founded over the years.
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: https://www.kitces.com/2
I’m thrilled to bring you weekly episodes featuring interviews of successful financial planners, their stories and the insights you can learn from their valuable experience.
In this first episode, I have a conversation with Rick Kahler, a financial planner in Rapid City, South Dakota who built his own practice to a stable of 100 clients and $200M in assets under management. Rick’s story is truly humbling as he openly shares the events and decisions that brought him to where he is today.
You’ll hear about his decisions that worked well in growing his practice, and quite frankly the sheer persistence in Rick’s professional career that allowed him to consistently and repeatedly overcome roadblocks and challenges. Between losing 5 out of 6 employees in under 60 days, facing insolvency and near bankruptcy 6 times, and failing on multiple businesses before running his practice, Rick’s ability to persist when times are uncomfortable will simply inspire you.
Get the full show notes and transcript for this episode at: https://www.kitces.com/1