Jessica Polito is the Founder and Principal for Turkey Hill Management, a mergers and acquisitions consulting firm that assists financial advisors with the sale, acquisition, integration, or merger of their firms. Jessica stands out for her specialized practice in assisting financial advisors and firms, offering comprehensive guidance—from understanding business goals and educating clients on transactions to valuing firms—all without the conflict of an investment banker's success fee.
In this episode, she delves into how her investment banking experience informs her unique approach to offering independent M&A advice, as well as why she advocates for a flat-fee model to ensure unbiased counsel. She also shares invaluable insights on navigating the complexities of potential buyers and discusses her personal and professional definitions of success, which include combating imposter syndrome through thought leadership and setting a resilient example for her children.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/351
Jason Wenk is the CEO of Altruist, a newer RIA custodian that has quickly grown to serve more than 3,500 advisory firms and has become the fourth-largest independent RIA custodian by firm count. In response to the inefficiencies he encountered with existing RIA custodians while building his own TAMP a decade ago, Jason developed an 'all-in-one' custodian platform for RIAs, which incorporates portfolio management and performance reporting software.
Listen in as he shares his journey and his all-in-one solution for RIAs, leveraging his experiences as an engineer, RIA owner, and TAMP owner to offer advisors core investment systems at a lower cost. You'll hear about his early business ventures that led him to launch his own RIA, as well as how a client's question about a fixed index annuity sparked a niche content marketing strategy that attracted hundreds of prospects per month. We also discuss Jason’s belief in the application of the fiduciary standard to vendors serving advisors, his gratitude for the experiences that prepared him for launching Altruist, and his passion for creating better industry standards to make financial advice accessible to all.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/350
Olivia Luper is the Founder of Lexicon Advisor Marketing, a virtual outsourced digital marketing company that specializes in working with financial advisors to generate a steady flow of prospects. Olivia is unique in that she initially began as a ghostwriter for financial advisors before soon realizing that quality content needed a robust marketing system to truly attract prospects. Consequently, she expanded her firm to offer comprehensive outsourced marketing services, encompassing everything from lead magnets and mailing lists to social media ads and effective email campaigns.
Listen in as Olivia unveils her three-step marketing strategy, emphasizing the importance of clarifying an advisor's message, crafting a comprehensive marketing funnel, and offering hands-on implementation for those who prefer it. We also discuss the power of social media—particularly paid ads—to drive traffic to advisors' websites (and the subsequent nurturing of these leads through a meticulously crafted 7-email sequence), the early challenges that Olivia faced in content creation, and why she believes in the power of authentic storytelling to resonate with ideal clients.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/349
Jeff Jones is the owner and founder of Cypress Financial Planning, an independent RIA based out of New Jersey that oversees $275 million in assets under management for 380 client households. Jeff stands out for creating custom financial planning spreadsheets in Excel that seamlessly integrate into PowerPoint presentations, an approach that not only crafts a compelling financial story for clients, but also ensures transparency in every projection.
Listen in as Jeff shares how he leveraged his engineering background at Lockheed Martin to craft unique Excel spreadsheets, which later inspired a FinTech company now catering to other financial planning firms. You'll learn why he decided not to partner with the FinTech venture (opting instead for specific equity agreements to motivate partners and plan for his exit strategy), as well as how the invaluable guidance from FP Transitions helped in valuing his firm. Jeff also opens up about his early mentorship experiences and his aspirations to contribute through pro bono financial planning.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/348
Cary Carbonaro is the Senior Vice President and Director of Women and Wealth Services for Advisor Capital Management, an independent RIA with offices around the country that oversees more than $6 billion in assets under management for 1,700 households. Cary distinctively transitioned from selling her practice to United Capital to establishing a leadership role, only to later grapple with the sale of United Capital to Goldman Sachs. This shift presented complexities as she encountered a culture not attuned to her media-centric approach to advisor marketing.
Listen in as Cary recounts her decision to launch her own advisory practice during tech crashes and dwindling marketing budgets, as well as her subsequent choice to sell to United Capital. She also discusses the transformative sale of United Capital to Goldman Sachs and its impact on her marketing strategies, her efforts to buy back her practice, and her move to a smaller firm amidst personal challenges. You'll hear about Cary’s early career confidence struggles and how her evolving definition of success now goes beyond practice growth.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/347
Jim Ludwick is the founder of MainStreet Financial Planning, an hourly, fee-only financial planning firm, and Procrastination Junction, a coaching program for fee-only financial advisors looking to improve their sales skills. Jim stands out for his three-decade track record in transforming hesitant prospects into loyal fee-only financial planning clients, not through aggressive sales tactics, but by assisting them in their journey from their current situation to their ideal financial position, effectively helping them overcome their own procrastination.
Listen in as Jim shares his journey to success in the financial services industry, discussing how he leveraged networks like the Garrett Network and NAPFA to bolster referrals, as well as why he modified his sales funnel to enhance conversion rates and profitability. You'll hear his perspective on the key to building a top-tier fee-only financial advice business, how he structured his firm around the core principle of work-life balance, and what game-changing strategy enabled him to scale his business.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/346
Lori Van Dusen is the CEO of LVW Advisors, an independent RIA based out of New York state that oversees more than $2 billion in assets under management for over 450 small-to-mid-sized institutions and ultra-high-net-worth households. Lori's unique niche lies in her multi-decade expertise in handling the complexities of investment issues faced by small-to-mid-sized institutions and ultra-high-net-worth families, which she leverages to differentiate her RIA focused on serious investing.
Listen in as Lori shares her journey to amassing extensive investment expertise, adopting a unique portfolio management strategy, establishing a governance calendar for client interactions, enduring a lawsuit from Citigroup post-independence, and learning the significance of due diligence when selecting an advisor platform. Lori also reflects on the aftermath of her decision to launch her own RIA, the challenges faced and lessons learned, her journey to rebuild billions in AUM, and her persistent optimism that shaped her into the successful advisory firm owner she is today.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/345
Brad Barrett is the Managing Director and Partner of One Capital Management, an independent RIA based in Westlake Village, California, that oversees $5.3 billion in assets under management for more than 2,000 client households. Brad's unique approach to business development has helped his firm scale and grow organically by creating multiple niche specializations, or business segments, each led by a dedicated advisor team.
Listen in as Brad discusses the firm's unique approach to growth through the development of specialized business segments and the strategic acquisition of niche practices. You'll learn about their innovative media strategy, the importance of regular evaluation of business segments, and the lessons learned from a challenging partnership experience. Finally, Brad shares his insights on the benefits of specialization, the importance of setting realistic career expectations, and the pursuit of long-term advisor happiness and financial success.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/344
Rita Robbins is the Founder and President of Affiliated Advisors, a Super-OSJ with Royal Alliance that supports 90 financial advisors and collectively manages $3.5 billion in assets under advisement. Rita stands out for her pioneering role in establishing one of the first woman-owned Super-OSJs nearly three decades ago. She has observed the transformation of the super-OSJ model from providing local oversight of brokers selling proprietary products to becoming back-office platforms that offer an increasingly open-architecture product shelf along with compliance, technology, marketing, business management, and other support to independent financial advisors.
Listen in as Rita shares her journey through the evolution of broker-dealer platforms, her strategies for growing her platform, and how her firm thrived during the pandemic due to its robust technological support. Drawing from her decade-long experience as a wholesaler, Rita discusses the launch of her own OSJ, the expansion of her platform's leadership, and her deep understanding of the advisor community's needs. She also opens up about early-career pressures, a traumatic embezzlement incident, and her ongoing struggle with focusing on uncontrollable factors while navigating business challenges and cycles.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/343
Nancy Hetrick is the Founder and CEO of Smarter Divorce Solutions, a consulting firm based out of Arizona that provides financial expertise to individuals and couples going through the divorce process. Nancy's unique journey from a do-it-yourself divorce to becoming a divorce expert was driven by her personal experience of non-enforceability, leading her to help other women avoid similar situations. She successfully scaled her divorce practice to 8 team members and $1M in annual revenue, while also growing her RIA to $65M AUM by assisting clients with rollovers and investment implementation post-divorce.
Listen in as Nancy shares how she overcame imposter syndrome by recognizing the value of her own life experiences, why she chose to expand her technical expertise to earn her CDFA credential and become a Master Analyst in Financial Forensics and a Certified Divorce Coach, and the strategies she used to grow her network in the divorce niche. We also discuss how she effectively communicates the value of her divorce planning work to prospects, how she earns fees on a divorce case, and what led her to sell her RIA and focus on being a solo practitioner in the divorce field.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/342
Thor McIlrath is the Owner of McIlrath & Eck, an independent RIA based out of Arlington, Washington, that oversees more than $610-million in assets under management for 970 households. The unique aspect of Thor's business model lies in the way he has organized his firm. Instead of subscribing to the conventional industry practice of fostering deep relationships between clients and a single advisor, Thor has innovated a system where clients interact with a variety of advisors each time they visit, which offers clients a diversity of insights on their situation over time, moving away from reliance on a singular perspective.
Listen in as Thor shares his successful transition to a rotating advisor system in his firm, an innovative approach that centralizes client notes and enriches both clients and advisors with diverse insights, earning approval from 80% of his clientele. We also discuss why Thor's hiring philosophy is centered on compassion and empathy, how he ensures a good fit between clients and the firm, and how he uses an adult education class on retirement to give back to the community and drive a steady stream of new clients.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/341
Melissa Joy is the Founder of Pearl Planning, an independent RIA based out of Michigan that oversees more than $175-million in assets under management for over 250 households. Melissa's unique journey in financial planning saw her rise to partner in a large firm, where she had outside counsel review the partnership and operating documents akin to a pre-nuptial agreement, to safeguard her position should the relationship deteriorate. This proved invaluable as she eventually diverged from the firm's vision, and the legal precautions she took upfront ensured a smooth transition to her next venture.
Listen in as Melissa shares why she hired outside counsel to review her firm's operating agreement during her partnership consideration, why she chose to acquire her CFP marks, even though she initially planned to have a career solely in operations, and why she eventually chose to leave her position as partner to start her own business. We also discuss how she strategically set up her firm as a DBA under the firm of a trusted advisor friend, how she incorporates a blend of the Entrepreneurial Operating System and Small Giants approaches in her firm, and how she cultivated hundreds of marketing contacts across numerous channels, including social media, local events, and webinars.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/340
Eric Roberge is the Founder and CEO of Beyond Your Hammock, an independent RIA based out of Boston that oversees $47 million in assets under management for more than 80 households. Despite his firm’s impressive progress and consistent expansion over a decade, Eric faced a capacity wall as a solo advisor, experiencing setbacks when a $4-million client relocated and market volatility led to the departure of other clients, requiring him to spend a year rebuilding various components of his business to recover.
In this episode, Eric shares how he implemented several strategies to address capacity constraints and meet the firm's needs, first by ramping up part-time outsourced assistance, and additionally by making the strategic decision to change the firm's meeting cadence from three times a year to a surge meeting structure, allowing him to allocate more time to focus on the overall growth of the business. We also discuss how securing a valuation for the firm provided Eric with a fresh perspective, why he has enlisted the expertise of a PR firm to secure guest podcast appearances and drive traffic to his website, and why he is grateful for the opportunities brought by the challenges he faced.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/339
Tony Hixon is the Co-Founder and COO for Hixon Zuercher Capital Management, an independent RIA based out of Ohio that oversees more than $300 million in assets under management for 330 client households. The tragic loss of Tony's mother just six months post-retirement led him to realize retirees' mental unpreparedness for this new phase and inspired a change in his financial planning approach, prompting him to write a book, drawing on his mother's experience to guide and honor his clients and other retirees.
Listen in as Tony shares his personal experience of his mother's depression and suicide post-retirement, underscoring the importance of mental preparation for retirement and how he subsequently incorporated retirement transition coaching into his practice. We also discuss the firm's active portfolio management approach, the renaming of the firm to Hixon Zuercher Capital Management for legacy and recognition, and Tony's belief that life fulfillment starts with finding one's 'why.'
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/338
Danika Waddell is the President and Founder for Xena Financial Planning, a virtual advisory firm that advises 40 client households of women in tech, and supports more than $275k of ongoing revenue. Danika's unique path involved launching her own independent RIA not as an entrepreneurial endeavor, but as a result of an IAR registration filing error by her previous firm that left her unable to be compensated for her work with clients, and which consequently led her to start her own firm and register herself in order to resume working promptly.
Listen in as we delve into Danika's experience with a state regulator audit that led to an investigation at her former firm, preventing her from working with clients and cutting her revenue by 50%, and which ultimately led to her choosing to launch her own firm to regain control. We also discuss Danika’s inspiration to work with women in tech, strategies she used for the rapid growth of her firm, and methods for building relationships as a solo advisor to overcome loneliness that often comes with the territory.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/337
Adam Holt is a principal with RubinGoldman and Associates, and the Founder and CEO of Asset-Map, a financial planning tool that helps financial advisors create a visual representation of their clients' financial situations and reaches over 1.25 million users. Adam's uniqueness lies in his ability to blend his background in geographic information systems, which he acquired during his early career, with his role as a financial advisor catering to ultra-high-net-worth clients, and devising a novel approach by using “mind maps” to visually capture the intricate details of complex financial situations.
Listen in as Adam shares his story and the evolution of Asset-Map, why he turned to mind maps as a powerful tool when working with ultra-high-net-worth clients (enabling him to effectively capture and convey complex financial information), and how he strategically structures Asset Maps by focusing on five key components. We also discuss the strategic hiring practices that propelled Adam to his current position, advice for advisors aspiring to launch their own fintech companies, and what he believes is the key to success for newer advisors.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/336
Tim Wyman is a Managing Partner for the Center for Financial Planning, a hybrid advisory firm based out of Michigan that oversees $1.5 billion in assets under management for 1,000 client households. Tim's uniqueness lies in his contribution as a second-generation partner in redesigning the organizational structure of the firm, helping to transform the firm's individual advisor-focused structure to an ensemble practice—and overhauling the compensation system in the process. By doing so, Tim established a systematic approach for future partnership opportunities for the next generation of financial advisors, as well as key non-advisory team members, that ensures the firm remains internally owned for the long term.
Listen in as Tim shares his insights on transforming a siloed advisor structure to an ensemble practice, the impact it had on the firm's success, and how Tim and his partner developed the "Center for Financial Planning Path to Partnership" document that outlines buy-in options and criteria to become a partner at the firm. We also discuss the importance of implementing a monthly scorecard and a bi-annual report to monitor the financial health and productivity of the firm, Tim's approach to assigning client service associates, and why he believes it is crucial for newer associate planners to be involved in all client-facing activities.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/335
Meg Bartelt is the Founder and Lead Financial Planner for Flow Financial Planning, a virtual RIA serving mid-career women in tech that oversees almost $60 million in assets under management for 60 client households. Meg has transformed her business over a period of 7 years since its inception by continually adjusting her niche focus, exploring various fee models, testing different meeting schedules with clients, and altering her support team size and structure.
Listen in as she reveals how she raised her minimum fees from $150 per month to $10,000 per year, why she chose to focus on women in tech as her niche market, and why she eventually evolved her niche focus from working mothers to early-to-mid-career women with a specialization in pre-IPO and IPO planning. We also discuss how she realized that she could create better efficiencies in her practice by simplifying her client offerings, how she became okay with having to let go of a team member due to financial constraints, and how she is transitioning into a new stage of life that prioritizes relationships and creating more space and freedom.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/334
Jim Dew is the Co-Founder and CEO of Dew Wealth Management, an independent RIA based out of Arizona that provides virtual “family office” style financial planning on a monthly retainer for 150 small business owners. Jim stands out for his ability to expand his boutique firm, which operates on a retainer basis, to generate over $7 million in revenue and attain a valuation of $31 million. His firm is also experiencing a remarkable organic growth rate of 40% and has achieved this success by offering a comprehensive and personalized advice service to his niche clientele of business owners.
Listen in as Jim discusses the success of his retainer-based pricing model that has led to his firm being independently valued at $31 million in enterprise value, how he arrived at his retainer fees that cover a wide range of financial services, making it easier to communicate services to clients, and why they charge an upfront fee of $25,000 to prospects for a deep-dive financial planning assessment. He also shares how he has structured his firm by building a list of external tax, legal, and other professionals that have been thoroughly vetted rather than providing these services in-house, and why he has no plans to sell his firm in the near future despite its valuation.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/333
Liz Hand is the co-owner of Pleasant Wealth, a hybrid advisory firm based out of Ohio that oversees over $140 million in assets under management for 522 households. Liz stands out for her exceptional ability to manage the transition of her father's large commission-based practice with over 1,500 clients into a fee-based financial planning practice, along with her brother. What sets them apart is their dedication to ensuring that long-term clients—even those with smaller or more transactional needs—receive fair treatment throughout this transition process.
Listen in as Liz shares how she and her brother refocused their niche and client loads after taking over their father’s business to realize the future vision of their financial planning firm, as well as why they made the strategic decisions to sell a portion of the business and change their broker-dealer relationship. You'll learn why Liz chose to become the successor for another advisor before becoming the successor for her father, the three tiers of service they have implemented for clients, and how a mindset coach not only helped Liz gain confidence, but also inspired her to become a mindset coach herself.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/332
Jake Northrup is the Founder of Experience Your Wealth, an independent RIA based out of Rhode Island that advises 78 client households with a small team supporting nearly $700,000 of ongoing revenue. Jake stands out for his impressive achievement of generating that top revenue within just four years of starting his business and for recognizing the need to hire employees early on to avoid time constraints and capacity limitations as he scaled.
Listen in as Jake shares his reason for hiring an associate and a lead advisor early on in his business, the four-meeting financial planning process his firm follows, and why he outsources investment management despite being a CFA charter holder. Jake also discusses how he grew his firm quickly, as well as how he intentionally built and staffed his practice to give himself more flexibility, allow his employees to thrive, and help his clients pursue their passions while enjoying their money.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/331
Ari Weisbard is Managing Partner of Values Added Financial, an independent RIA based out of Washington that oversees $143 million in assets under management for 75 client households. Ari and his partner Zach distinguish themselves by not only implementing fee minimums to ensure profitable service for clients, but also by deliberately adjusting their fees and minimums to control and accelerate their business growth according to their firm's advisor capacity—and to allow for a sustainable work-life balance.
Listen in as Ari shares how he and his partner have implemented and adjusted minimum fees for new clients, as well as why they have positioned their firm as one that serves clients with progressive values. We also discuss how Ari has overcome fear and imposter syndrome, why he feels more fulfilled as an advisor than he did as a lawyer, and how he is focusing on the human aspect of financial planning and connecting with clients beyond economics.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/330
Charesse Spiller is the Founder and Principal Consultant for Level Best, an operations and process strategy consulting firm based out of Houston that helps advisory firms evaluate and improve their operations and processes by focusing on three pillars: streamlining, automation, and delegation. Charesse has established a distinctive consulting firm that sets itself apart by not only educating financial advisors on how to systematize and automate their processes, but also serves as an outsourced provider that builds and implements systems on behalf of clients.
Listen in as Charesse discusses her approach to evaluating an advisory firm’s technology, processes, and systems, why a lack of clear accountability for team members as the firm grows is often the real blocking point for larger RIAs seeking to scale, and why she created her educational resource and community to educate operations professionals on how they can optimize their systems and processes on an ongoing basis. We also discuss why she hired a financial coach to avoid burnout and improve her leadership skills, what it was like scaling a service firm and transitioning from employee to founder, and how she leveraged local mentoring programs, read business books, and formed two Mastermind groups to develop her own skills as she and her business grew.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/329
Thomas West is a Senior Partner for Signature Estate & Investment Advisors, an independent RIA based out of Los Angeles that oversees nearly $16 billion in assets under management, with $570 million of those assets from 250 households being managed by Thomas’ practice. Thomas stands out for his innovative approach to supporting seniors who are searching for suitable housing and healthcare options while facing medical and cognitive challenges in their later years and has developed a unique offering called the Lifecare Affordability Plan, which has been tremendously successful in providing added value to his clients and their elderly parents.
Listen in as Thomas shares how he realized that "one-legger" senior couples, where one spouse is healthy and the other is not, face unique challenges in making healthcare decisions with significant financial ramifications and how this led him to create the Lifecare Affordability Plan to provide guidance to senior couples dealing with medical and cognitive issues. We also discuss why over 90% of the assets managed by his firm are held on a non-discretionary basis (which has increased client communication and portfolio customization), why his firm doesn't charge more for trading assets on a discretionary basis and charges less for clients who allow them to manage with discretion, and how his definition of success has shifted from focusing on production to the impact of his elder planning work, which in turn motivates him to work harder.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/328
Marc Horner is the Founder of Fairhaven Wealth Management, an independent RIA based out of Illinois that oversees more than $1 billion in assets under management for 450 client households. Marc has been able to differentiate his firm by drawing upon his years of wirehouse experience to create a distinctly un-wirehouse brand that leverages parody commercials as a way to distinguish his firm's culture from prospective clients.
Listen in as we discuss how Marc developed his unique marketing strategy of writing parody commercials, how he balances the serious nature of financial advising with the not-so-serious way he markets his firm, and how he became comfortable taking such a non-traditional approach to marketing. We also talk about why he decided to go independent after 14 years in the wirehouse world, how he grew his firm from $80 million in AUM to over $1 billion in under 8 years, and how he splits the growth of his team into one-third through organic hiring, one-third through recruiting, and one-third through acquisitions.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/327