Sophia Bera is a past guest of the podcast, and originally wrote a guest post for Nerd’s Eye View as far back as 2013. If you missed her before, she is the founder of Gen Y Planning, an independent RIA that serves just under 100 young professionals—and that was also one of the first location-independent firms in the financial planning industry.
Listen in as we catch up on how Gen Y Planning has shifted over the years, why net worth reporting is not at the heart of Gen Y’s planning process, and why their focus with clients is more on short-term goals versus long-term metrics. Sophia will also share how she created a work-life balance that allows her to spend more time doing what she loves, and how she was able to take four months away from the business on maternity leave without the business skipping a beat.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/217
Jason Zweig is a financial journalist who not only wrote one of the first books on behavioral finance neuroeconomics, but also writes “The Intelligent Investor” column for the Wall Street Journal. A senior writer for Money magazine and a guest columnist for Time magazine and CNN.com, Jason has a truly unique perspective on the financial services industry, having covered it for nearly 25 years.
Listen in as he shares his perspective on the financial services industry, including why the AUM model is outdated, how he views the evolution of the financial advice business, and why he sees the future of the industry as more curatorial. You’ll learn his take on where he believes new advisors should be focusing their energy for success and why it’s actually a good thing to admit when you don’t know the answer to a question.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/216
Shawn Tydlaska is the founder of Ballast Point Financial Planning, an independent RIA based in the San Francisco Bay Area that serves 117 high-income young professionals across the country, helping them turn income into wealth. Ballast Point is unique in that it uses a blended model of a minimum $5,000 retainer paid monthly, plus an additional fee of ten basis points above $2 million to adjust pricing upward for the most complex clients.
In this episode, we talk about how Shawn structures his services and the foundation that forms the basis of his planning process with clients. Listen in to hear about the tracking system he put in place to not only show his worth to clients, but also to increase his own confidence in what he offers. You'll learn how he was able to build his firm so quickly in the five years since he started, what he says was key to his firm’s growth in the early days, and more.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/215
Olivia Summerhill is the founder of Summerhill Wealth, an independent RIA based near Seattle that exclusively works with ultra-high net worth women who are adjusting to life during—and after—divorce. Olivia is a great example of how many of us navigate through the industry, having gone from a large national firm to launching her own firm focusing on this very specialized niche.
Not only does Olivia’s niche make her unique, but her fees and client base are also specialized: she charges $20,000 for an engagement and commits to working with no more than five active clients at a time. As a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst, she provides financial advice and planning, and she holds the hands of clients as they navigate through many “firsts” after divorce, including buying a house and managing a budget.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/214
Dave Yeske is the co-founder of Yeske Buie, an independent RIA based out of San Francisco that oversees $740 million of assets under management for more than 300 affluent clients. Dave has successfully blended together academic financial planning research with the practice of financial planning to culminate in an evidence- and policy-based financial planning approach that sets clients up with the confidence to handle any number of future scenarios with ease.
Listen in as Dave shares in detail how his firm applies evidence-based planning and how this approach helps to reduce client stress during market volatility. He will also discuss why it’s important to be ready to adapt to change instead of trying to predict the future, where his passion for academic research came from (and how he applies it to financial planning), and why he was motivated to create what may have been the very first financial planning client portal ever.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/213
Alex Hopkin is the founder of Simply Paraplanner, a job board and training portal for U.S.-based virtual paraplanners. Simply Paraplanner is not just a way for paraplanners and firms to connect, but the platform also supports the ongoing evolution of paraplanning from an entry-level support role into a dedicated career path.
In this episode, Alex shares why she created Simply Paraplanner, what paraplanners really do in an advisory firm to make it more efficient, and the best way to divvy up tasks between a paraplanner and an advisor. She’ll also discuss how the internal process of creating a financial plan needs to change when a paraplanner is crafting the plan but a lead advisor is actually executing it, and how the technical demands of the paraplanner role have changed to the point where traditional certifications are no longer sufficient to be successful as a professional paraplanner.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/212
Kristin Harad is the founder of a marketing consulting firm that focuses on coaching solo advisors to reach the next level and outsource CMO services for RIAs and mid-size firms. In addition to working as a marketing consultant, Kristin also has her own advisory firm that she launched from scratch and grew to six figures in fee-only revenue in just three years. She now uses her experience and expertise to coach other advisors to scale in the same way.
Listen in as Kristin shares how her journey through the consumer goods and financial industries set the stage for her advisory and consulting passions, how her interest in life coaching played a role in the launch of her own advisory, and how she was able to market in an extremely cost-efficient but effective way to her niche client. You’ll learn how she has been able to have one of her best years in business despite the global circumstances, what challenges she faced when uprooting her family and moving to Australia, and more.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/211
Sten Morgan is the founder of Legacy Investment Planning, a hybrid advisory firm near Nashville that generates more than $2 million in revenue per year from 220 affluent clients. Sten is one of the most accomplished young advisors in the country and has built his success by focusing on putting himself—and his advice—at the forefront of his product offering.
Listen in as Sten shares how he built his advisory firm by using a philosophy that embraces “the advisor is the product,” and why he charges a full-rate financial planning fee with a monthly retainer in the hundreds or thousands of dollars—and then discounts his AUM fees for those who subsequently implement with him. He’ll also dive into how he quantifies the economic benefits his advice will bring to get clients comfortable with his fees, the mindset changes that were critical for him to turn a struggling advisory into a successful one, and why it’s best to start not with your why but with your who.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/210
Forrest Baumhover is a financial advisor and partner with Lawrence Financial Planning, an independent RIA based in Tampa that oversees more than $100 million of assets under management for 70 affluent clients. Forrest’s path to partnership as a financial advisor was a unique journey from the military to his own firm to merging with a larger firm—and quickly becoming a partner of that firm.
Forrest joins me today to share how he built his advisory from the ground up—starting before he even left the military—and the challenges he faced along the way. He’ll also discuss the groundwork he put in place before retiring from the military so he could hit the ground running, why he made the decision to merge his firm with another larger firm, and what the process was like becoming a full partner at the table with Lawrence Financial Planning.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/209
Debbie Freeman is a partner with Peak Financial Advisors, an independent RIA out of Denver, Colorado that oversees $175 million of assets under management for 105 families. Peak Financial is unique in that they not only do tax planning, but also in-house tax preparation as a value-add service for their clients.
Listen in as Debbie explains why her firm views tax preparation as an essential component to service and retain their client base, as well as how they actually manage operating a tax preparation business within their firm. You’ll learn how maternity leave gave her and her firm a newfound appreciation for each other—eventually leading her to become an owner—and how a personal tragedy changed how she views not only life, but her career as well.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/208
Lindsay Elwood-Goetz is the founder of Elwood & Goetz, an independent RIA based out of Athens, Georgia that oversees $365 million in AUM for 375 affluent clients. Lindsay launched her business within a year of graduating from the Texas Tech Financial Planning Program and has been able to steadily grow and create a firm that works for her, her team, and the clients she serves.
Listen is as Lindsay explains how it was serendipity that led her into the financial planning world, how she first approached job-hunting once she graduated to only focus on the firms she really wanted to work with, and why she eventually forged her own path to start her own advisory. She’ll also share her insight into why it’s important to persevere and try different things until you find what works, how her firm is managing client interactions during the pandemic, and why the details can say so much more about your firm than you might think.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/207
Drew Stotler is the founder of Stotler Wealth Management, a hybrid advisory firm based in St. Louis that serves 100 middle-income clients. Drew had a unique journey to building his own advisory firm, having started first in the employee advisor model at Edward Jones and moved to an independent broker-dealer—where he was hit with a temporary restraining order after leaving—before finally building his own advisory firm the way he always wanted to.
In this episode, Drew shares how he built his career as a financial advisor, including what it was like focusing on anti-money laundering at Edward Jones before becoming an advisor. Listen in to learn how he built his early client base, what books gave him the inspiration to keep moving forward despite the challenging years, and how he has built his practice while also navigating the stringent non-solicit provisions put forth by Edward Jones.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/206
Marina Hernández is the founder of Swiss American Wealth Advisors, an independent RIA that specializes in working with cross-border Swiss-American expatriates. Marina’s model is unique because her niche allows her to work with next-generation clients and face little to no competition, all while commanding sizable financial planning fees from clients.
In this episode, Marina shares how she has made her chosen niche work for her, how cross-border planning can be exceptionally complex (especially when it comes to taxation), and how the U.S. has placed extra layers of tax reporting on expatriates to prevent money laundering and foreign tax cheats. She also shares her very unique journey to launching her own firm, how she manages to keep her workflow efficient despite the challenges her specialization creates, and how some of her biggest obstacles were those that were least expected.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/205
Blair DuQuesnay is a financial advisor with Ritholtz Wealth Management, an independent RIA based in New York City that oversees nearly $1.3 billion of assets under management for more than 1,000 affluent clients. Blair had a unique journey to her current role, where she has built a strong client base managing $90 million of assets in under 2.5 years by focusing on client relationships and the investment committee work instead of prospecting.
Listen in as we talk about Blair’s journey through the industry, from a major wirehouse where she broke away after the financial crisis, to various operational and investment support roles, to launching her own independent RIA as a reluctant entrepreneur, and eventually landing in her current role with Ritholtz. She’ll also be sharing why she believes that it’s important to start at the bottom and take early entry-level roles that build a strong foundation for a long-term career as a financial advisor, and shares the moment she knew she had to make a major change while at a financial advisor conference.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/204
Maribeth Kuzmeski is the founder of Red Zone Marketing, a marketing consulting firm that helps independent financial advisors implement actionable marketing strategies to grow their advisory. Maribeth believes that marketing success does not have to involve reinventing the wheel, and that looking at what is already working in the world of financial advisors and adapting it to your unique business can bring greater marketing success.
Listen in as she shares how she successfully niched down to focus on marketing consultancy for financial advisors, as well as how her very first client grew his business from $10 million to $200 million in assets under management in just five years. You will learn why finding your niche doesn’t have to be intentional, how the pandemic has changed the way in which financial advisors are approaching client and prospect interactions, and why now is the time to embrace video calls if you’ve previously been on the fence.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/203
Pam Capalad is the founder of Brunch & Budget, a financial planning and coaching firm based in New York City that focuses on first-generation immigrants and communities of color. Brunch & Budget uses a unique approach to clientele-building through brunch sessions with prospective clients, where they discuss budgeting and cash flow planning issues. These sessions often turn into ongoing financial coaching, and have allowed Pam to build a client base of nearly 200 clients paying as much as $300 to $900 per month for her services.
In this episode, Pam shares how she has grown her monthly fee significantly from the early days, as well as how she now justifies fees that can sometimes be 3-4% of a client’s household income. We also dive into Pam’s business model and workflow with clients, discuss why she niched down to focus on people who typically don’t talk about money, and learn how working with first-generation immigrants is different than the typical financial planning client.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/202
John Wernz is the former Chief Marketing Officer for Wealth Enhancement Group, an independent RIA based in Minneapolis that has nearly $20 billion in assets under management for nearly 20,000 affluent clients. Under John’s leadership, Wealth Enhancement Group went from nearly $1 billion AUM to $20 billion—and attracted more than $1.5 billion of net new client assets in the past year alone.
John joins me today to discuss in depth how he built the organic marketing engine at his firm, why direct mail became a foundation in their growth strategy, and how they leverage third-party data sources to better target marketing initiatives. He’ll also share why the firm uses a centralized sales team for inquiries, how he has structured a thirty-person marketing team to manage all of the different marketing channels, and why bird watchers make for their best client base.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/201
This is a milestone 200th episode, and we’re doing things a little differently today! We put out a survey to the listenership asking who we should invite as our guest today, and overwhelmingly, you told us that you want to hear more of my own story on this journey of navigating the challenges of building a successful advisory business. So, you’ve got your wish!
In this episode, Alan Moore joins me to talk about my career journey from college to financial services, why I split my time in the advisory firm between writing and speaking, and why I spend so much time advocating for smaller advisory firms despite switching to a much larger RIA myself. We also talk about all of the different ways that a career journey can unfold, and I’m taking you behind the scenes of kitces.com—including how I manage my own time and schedule to stay focused on having the biggest possible positive impact on the advisory community. I'll also be answering your number one burning question: Do I actually sleep?
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/200
Morgen Rochard is the founder of Origin Wealth Advisers, an independent RIA based out of Austin, Texas, that oversees nearly $35 million in assets under management for 25 affluent clients. Using a barbell approach to doing good in the world, Morgen has focused her practice to work with no more than 30 clients at a time at a rate of $12,000, which allows her the financial and time freedom to raise her family and create a book and podcast to disperse knowledge to those who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford her services.
Listen in as Morgen shares how she structures her advisory firm to work with only a select number of affluent clients, why she structures her fees based on net worth but still views investment management as an essential service in her practice, and how she created a financial coaching business entirely separate from Origin Wealth Advisers. She will also detail her actual financial planning process with clients, why she focuses on what her clients can accomplish in a 12-18 month window instead of 20-30 years down the road, and what her secret is to being hyper-efficient.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/199
Bill Bengen is the former owner of Bengen Financial Services, an independent RIA based out of Southern California that oversaw nearly $50 million of assets under management for 80 affluent retirees. That’s not all Bill is known for though—in fact, he is the father of the “4% rule” and the safe withdrawal rate research, which was published in a series of studies in the Journal of Financial Planning and put into practice with his own clients.
Listen in as Bill describes how he first developed his 4% safe withdrawal rate research, how he started this research to get away from the rules of thumb that were popular at the time, and how, ironically, his research became a rule of thumb itself. He’ll also share why he actually used a withdrawal rate of 4.5% with his own clients, why a safe withdrawal rate today could be as high as 5%, and why he ultimately made the decision to retire and sell his firm.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/198
Ashby Daniels is a financial advisor who personally oversees $38 million in assets under management for 43 retired clients with Shorebridge Wealth Management. Ashby launched his current practice, a hybrid advisory firm, by breaking away from a major broker-dealer after 10 years in the business in the face of a non-compete, and he was able to build his firm in such a way that his family’s financial situation was never at risk.
In this episode, we talk in-depth about how Ashby negotiated his compensation agreement with Shorebridge, how he navigated the non-compete agreement to eventually win back some of his prior clients, and how leaving most of his clients behind allowed him to focus on bringing in the right clients. Listen in to learn how his business has evolved deeper into niche territory, how he has built his current marketing funnel through blogging, and how his blog helped his former clients find their way back to him.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/197
Daniel Hannoush is the co-founder of One & Done Financial, a virtual independent RIA that oversees nearly $70-million of assets under management for 350 client households. He has been able to consistently add five to ten new clients every single month since launching only four years ago. How has he done this? Hyper-focused niching.
In this episode, we’re discussing how Daniel was able to scale exponentially by niching down, how a fateful introduction led him to meeting his business partner, and why they chose to go with a 50/50 partnership deal despite advice to the contrary. Daniel will also share where he expects the firm to be in 10 years due to the exponential growth, as well as why he lives by the motto “if your visibility exceeds your ability, it destroys your credibility.”
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/196
Echo Huang is the founder of Echo Wealth Management, an independent RIA that oversees nearly $120 million of AUM for 76 client households. Echo has built a niche serving corporate executives and has managed to build her firm almost entirely by word-of-mouth, through building her reputation within her niche. Today she joins the show to discuss how she grew such a successful career after starting out in the industry completely from scratch, as well as the challenges she faced along the way.
Listen in as Echo shares why she decided to go out on her own—at the cost of losing to 2/3 of her AUM—to build the advisory firm she dreamed of. You will learn why she decided to get her CFA certification despite her success as an advisor, who she uses as her custodian, and the unique challenges she faces as what she calls a “triple minority.”
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/195
Lisa Cooper is the founder of Figure 8 Investment Strategies, an independent RIA based in Idaho that oversees $90 million of assets under management for 85 clients. Figure 8 has differentiated itself with its sustainability-focused equity management, or, in other words, responsible investing through a thematic portfolio of 50 to 60 individual stocks. This differentiation has allowed Lisa to grow the firm exponentially in only four years since launching.
Listen in as she shares how she crafted her unique investment approach, including how her firm identifies segments of the market to invest in and which stocks to avoid. You’ll learn how shareholder engagement through proxy voting is a key part of the investment process, how the decision was made to become a B Corporation (and what that means for the firm’s processes and standards), and how balancing purpose and profit has been key to Figure 8’s success.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/194
Michelle Wong is the founder of Nifty Advisor Support, a virtual assistant outsourcing solution for independent advisory firms. Using her background in operations, Michelle was able to capitalize on the dual trends of outsourcing and working virtually into an entrepreneurial venture that is making life easier for registered investment advisors across the United States.
Listen in to find out some of the typical tasks that virtual assistants take on, as well as how outsourcing can benefit firms—especially solo advisory firms. You’ll learn the typical cost-benefit of a virtual assistant compared to a full-time staff member, where Michelle sees outsourcing playing out in the advisor world (particularly with the after-effects of the pandemic), and the catalyst for why the virtual assistant world and gig economy have grown exponentially over the last few years.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/193