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Financial Advisor Success

The Financial Advisor Success podcast brings you real success stories and insights from the most successful financial advisors, and leading industry consultants, about how to take your advisory business to the next level. Get a glimpse of what it's like behind the scenes building a successful advisory business, and how entrepreneurial advisors navigate the inevitable highs, and lows, of growing a firm. Whether you're a new financial advisor trying to get started on the right foot, or an experienced advisor who's hit a wall, we're here to give you the insights and inspiration you need to break through and reach the level of success you want to achieve. Subscribe to the show, and get even more at the leading industry blog Nerd’s Eye View at www.Kitces.com.
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Now displaying: 2023
Jul 4, 2023

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

Jun 27, 2023

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

Jun 20, 2023

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

Jun 13, 2023

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

Jun 6, 2023

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

May 30, 2023

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

May 23, 2023

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

May 16, 2023

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

May 9, 2023

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

May 2, 2023

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

Apr 25, 2023

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

Apr 18, 2023

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

Apr 11, 2023

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

Apr 4, 2023

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

Mar 28, 2023

Erica Pauly is the Founder and Owner of Track That Advisor, a consulting and coaching firm based out of Arizona that helps advisory firms track, and then improve upon, their marketing results. Erica developed a series of spreadsheet tools that measure every detail of her advisory firm's marketing funnel, and then transformed them into a system that can be used by any advisory firm to assess their marketing performance, identify areas of improvement, and benchmark against industry averages.

Listen in as Erica shares how she helps firms track every step of their marketing funnel, why she prefers Google Sheets over other standalone data tracking platforms, and the 5 key marketing metrics she focuses on to obtain an overall view of a firm. We also discuss how Erica realized the demand for her particular type of work, how she has become more comfortable having difficult conversations with advisors about their marketing strategies, and why she chose not to give herself the role of CEO of Track That Advisor.

For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/326

Mar 21, 2023

Brenda Hiscock is a financial planner with Objective Financial Partners, an advice-only advisory firm based out of Ontario, Canada that works with clients on project-based financial plans while also offering outsourced preplanning to other Canadian advisory firms. Brenda's exceptional trait lies in the fact that she ventured into the financial services industry despite lacking any prior financial knowledge. After facing homelessness, bankruptcy, and alcoholism during her twenties, she uses her real-life experience to engage with clients on a deeper, more meaningful level.

Listen in as Brenda shares how her personal experiences have significantly influenced her career as a financial planner, how the hardships she faced shaped her perspective on financial planning and insurance, and why she prioritizes working from home with a flexible work schedule for her mental health. We also discuss how she found her way to financial planning after a stint in insurance, how being a financial planner has allowed her to have a more significant impact on her clients’ lives, and why she believes that new advisors should find mentors and proactively seek support to achieve their career goals.

For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/325

Mar 14, 2023

Nancy Knous is the CEO and Founder of Benchmark Wealth Management, an independent RIA affiliated with LPL Financial based in Memphis that oversees nearly $340 million in assets under management for nearly 1,000 client households. Despite facing a cash flow squeeze during the 2008-2009 financial crisis, Nancy's experience led to significant changes in how she managed her firm's profit margins, enabling her to scale up her business to over 20 team members and avoid cash flow problems during the pandemic.

Listen in as Nancy shares her journey as a CFP professional, where she learned that a good income would not protect her from market drops, and how she transformed her money habits using Dave Ramsey's method and leveraged his SmartVestor program to grow her firm through referrals. We also discuss why she started an independent firm with LPL, how the decision ultimately shaped the way she treats her employees and led her to develop a 4-8 week in-depth hiring process to ensure each hire is a good fit, and why she believes in the importance of having employees who are not like her.

For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/324

Mar 7, 2023

Yonhee Choi Gordon is a Principal and the Chief Operating Officer of JMG Financial Group, an independent RIA based out of Chicago that oversees nearly $5 billion in assets under management for close to 1,500 households. What sets Yonhee apart is how, with her nearly four decades at JMG Financial Group, she has been instrumental in the company's succession plan and has personally recruited, trained, and retained the majority of the company's employees through a stringent hiring process to ensure alignment with the company's expectations and values.

Listen in as we delve into Yonhee’s career, including how she has been such an integral part of the hiring, training, and development systems, and how she evaluates potential candidates based on the actual tasks of the job, and how JMG structures its leadership roles and share of ownership. We also discuss why Yonhee believes that inconsistent definitions of advisor roles are contributing to the financial industry's rising level of M&A deals, why she teaches younger advisors to find their ideal role by first understanding their personal values and culture, and how her definition of success has evolved over time to focus on the impact and value she provides in the lives of the employees she leads.

For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/323

Feb 28, 2023

Kent Skornia is the Founder of Krilogy, an independent RIA based out of St. Louis that oversees nearly $2 billion in assets under management for 1,800 client households. Having created an internal training system at Krilogy that focuses on mentorship and education, Kent joins the show today to share his insights into recruiting and developing advisors in the financial planning industry.

Listen in as he discusses his creation of the Krilogy Advisor Development System (KADS) as a proprietary training system for newer advisors to gain deeper knowledge in financial planning and grow their own book of business. You'll learn why the firm offers liquidity options for senior advisors to sell their book of business to Krilogy while still serving as an advisor, why Kent focused on building a values-based approach in the firm, and why he believes that new advisors should interview other newer advisors at their prospective firms to ensure a good fit.

For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/322

Feb 21, 2023

Danqin Fang is a Lead Advisor for Austin Asset, an independent RIA based out of Austin, Texas, that oversees more than $1.3 billion in assets under management for nearly 400 client households. Danqin stands out for her intentional career path in the financial services industry that involved her leaving China, learning a new language and culture in the U.S., getting a Master's in Financial Planning, and creating opportunities for herself through industry associations and networking.

In this episode, she shares her journey to Lead Advisor, from connecting with the description of a CFP professional after a Google search to leaving China and immigrating to the U.S. to pursue her CFP marks and having the opportunity to follow a clear career path in finance. You'll hear about how she navigated the complexities of relocating to another country and leveraged cultural differences to better connect with clients, how she used networking opportunities to get connected with the right people in the industry (and ultimately find better jobs), and why it's important for newer and younger advisors to get clear on their vision of the future so they can work backward to figure out the next best step forward.

For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/321

Feb 14, 2023

Jim Dickson is the CEO and Founder of Sanctuary Wealth, an RIA platform with 80 partner firms in 29 states that collectively oversee nearly $25 billion in assets under management. Jim has successfully built an RIA platform in just 5 years through efficient management of hiring, staffing, and raising outside investor capital, while providing middle and back-office support for independent advisors and playing a unique role in helping them grow their businesses.

Listen in as Jim shares why he built the "Partnered Independence" platform to provide support systems for advisors who want to run their own practices, why he created a unique partnership structure where advisor practices are their own LLCs but are also IARs under the corporate RIA of Sanctuary Wealth, and why the firm has built a centralized data warehouse providing each advisor with their own level of business intelligence. We also discuss why Jim left the wirehouse world after 25 years and took a year-long trip around the world, how he's working through the challenges associated with rapid growth, and how the demand for independence among advisors surprised him despite his two decades in the wirehouse.

For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/320

Feb 7, 2023

Jim Niedzinski is the Co-Founder of Motive Wealth Advisors, an independent RIA based out of Detroit that oversees $250 million in assets under management for nearly 50 households. Jim and his partner have established a successful boutique firm that competes with larger firms to attract and retain ultra-high-net-worth families by implementing a unique client task management system beyond traditional CRM, ensuring their advice is followed by clients.

In this episode, Jim shares why he and his partner built their firm around Asana, a project management tool, instead of the traditional CRM system, as well as how he leveraged relationships with accountants, lawyers, and other professionals to gain a steady flow of referrals. He also talks about how they used those referrals to grow the firm from $0 in AUM to $250 million in less than 3 years and why he and his partner are intentional about serving only 25 clients each at a time.

For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/319

Jan 31, 2023

Ali Swart is a Partner and Managing Director for Waldron Private Wealth, a multi-family office based out of Pennsylvania that oversees nearly $3-billion in assets under management for 280 ultra-high-net-worth clients. Ali made a unique transition from a retail brokerage firm, where she served nearly 400 clients and was also responsible for acquiring more business, to a multi-family office where she works with specialized client relationship teams that limit the number of clients per advisor to no more than 10 at any given time.

Listen in as Ali discusses the "white glove" service offered by her firm, which serves ultra-high-net-worth families through specialized client relationship teams focusing on wealth planning, investing, and client service, and details the in-depth financial plan offering for prospects, which can take several weeks to months to develop and aims to foster strong relationships with clients. We also discuss Ali’s personal journey, including her decision to leave her previous firm and negotiate for a formal maternity leave policy, her goal to become a partner by age 40, and the importance of maintaining alignment with her core values of family, finance, and fitness.

For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/318

Jan 24, 2023

Jennifer Climo is the CEO and a Senior Advisor for Milestone Financial Planning, an independent RIA based out of New Hampshire that oversees $360-million in assets under management for 225 households. Despite already having a successful solo practice, Jennifer decided to merge with another solo practitioner when an opportunity presented itself during an unusual crisis, and she took on the challenge of managing the complex business dynamics that came with this decision in order to achieve her goal of expanding and growing her practice into a larger enterprise that would continue to thrive beyond her involvement.

Listen in as Jennifer shares why she merged her solo practice with another firm due to an opportunity that presented itself during an unusual crisis, how she created a unique succession plan that included a 15%-of-profits retirement payout, and how this succession plan ultimately led to a second merger that allowed Jennifer to continue growing and scaling her business. We also discuss why Jennifer created an operating agreement when she added a partner to her firm, how she used the challenges that arose during the mergers to improve efficiencies and increase profitability, and what has surprised her the most about running a multi-million revenue practice.

For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/317

Jan 17, 2023

Matt Sonnen is the founder and CEO of PFI Advisors, a consulting firm based out of Redondo Beach, California, that helps wirehouse advisors transition to independence and provides training and consulting services to the COOs of independent RIAs to help them develop and scale their advisory businesses. Matt and his wife have taken the knowledge and experience they gained from providing hands-on support to independent advisory firms to improve their operations, technology, and scalability, and turned it into a unique offering for Chief Operating Officers in the industry, dubbed the "COO Society.”

Listen in as Matt shares what it takes to establish an independent advisory firm when it breaks away from a wirehouse, how he developed his "stand-up-from-scratch" breakaway experience to help RIA owners understand their operational strengths and weaknesses, and how his unique “COO Society” helps COOs become more well-rounded in their roles. We also discuss how Matt got started in his advisory career as a 22-year-old college grad, what led him to ultimately launch PFI Advisors, and how the unexpected illness and untimely death of his daughter impacted him and his wife during the early stages of his firm’s launch.

For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/316

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