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
Paul Pagnato is the Co-Chairman and Chief Visionary Officer of Cresset Capital, a multi-family office with nearly $9.5 billion of assets under management for more than 600 ultra-high net worth clients. After a nearly 20-year career at Merrill Lynch—and working with Hightower Advisors as a partner—Paul decided to go out on his own and eventually merged his multi-billion-dollar boutique advisory firm into Cresset Capital to further expand the reach of his vision.
Listen in as we talk in-depth about Paul’s entrepreneurial journey through the industry, why he chose to follow his true north and walk away from a 20-year wirehouse career, and why it’s so important to have a strong support structure in place with experienced vendors when breaking away. You’ll learn about the $90,000/year flat fee structure his firm uses to serve its ultra-affluent clientele, how Paul services those clients with unique concierge offerings, and how he has been able to scale successfully with a philosophy of outsourcing as much as he can.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/192
Tiffany Charles is the Chief Growth Officer for Destiny Capital, a hybrid advisory firm based near Denver that oversees $260 million in assets under management for nearly 200 households. Tiffany has crafted a unique role for herself within an independent advisory firm with a focus on building scalable marketing systems to power the growth of the entire firm, instead of focusing on personally prospecting for new business.
Listen in to find out how she moved from focusing on business outcomes to measuring her activity, as well as how this made a positive impact on the firm’s growth. You’ll also learn how she took on the Chief Growth Officer role with her firm as a tie-in to a next-generation succession plan and how she co-created a new vision with the firm to pursue a new niche of working entrepreneurs.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/191
Stacey McKinnon is the Chief Operating Officer for Morton Capital Management, an independent RIA based in Los Angeles that oversees nearly $2 billion worth of assets under management for nearly 1,000 households. Stacey was formerly a wedding coordinator and operated a Pilates studio before entering into the financial services industry, which is indicative of Morton's non-traditional hiring approach that has been such a major part of their success.
Listen in as Stacey discusses the shortage of talent in financial services and why many firms may be casting the net too narrowly when looking for the right people to hire. You’ll learn why Morton hires for personality and culture fit before hiring for skills, why trust is so important within a team, and the importance of building something unique at the firm level in order to create a more rewarding environment for advisors and more financial security for the firm.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/190
Taylor Schulte is the founder of Define Financial, an independent fee-only RIA that oversees $76 million of assets under management for 60 families that are in, or approaching, retirement. Taylor has grown his practice through proactive marketing initiatives and niching down to a very specific target clientele—even though it meant firing his mother and grandfather as clients.
Listen in as he shares some of the hits and misses he experienced along the way to growing his practice to what it is today. You will learn what he did to break through a revenue ceiling, how he turned podcast listeners into clients, and how investments in his website have paid off to the tune of 75% of new clients arriving through organic web traffic.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/189
Rich Arzaga is the founder of Cornerstone Wealth Management, a hybrid advisory firm that oversees nearly $70 million in AUM for 65 affluent clients. Rich is just one of a handful of advisors across the country who, in addition to holding a CFP certificate, holds the CCIM designation to advise clients on commercial real estate. Today he joins the show to discuss how he incorporates advice on directly held real estate into his practice and the APOD (Annual Property Operating Data) analysis he prepares as part of his financial planning.
Listen in as Rich shares the tools he uses to track and analyze directly held real estate, as well as why he charges an upfront fee for his real estate analysis. You’ll learn what he did to stand out from the crowd and how he turbo-charged his firm in the early years to overcome the challenges often faced by career-changing entrepreneurs.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/188
Emlen Miles-Mattingly is the founder of Gen Next Wealth, an independent RIA based in Madera, California that provides wealth management for 70 client households. Emlen’s goal is to change the complexion of wealth, and he does this by focusing his advisory firm on working with underserved communities of color and moving toward a subscription model instead of traditional assets under management.
Listen in to find out how Emlen structures his monthly subscription business model, as well as how he developed different tiers that all provide a baseline of advice but vary in implementation support. We also discuss how the change in business model is accelerating his growth path, the key question he asks at the beginning of every introductory meeting with clients, the real-world challenges he faces as an advisor of color serving communities of color, and so much more.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/187
Samantha Bezar is the Director of Digital Marketing for Thrive Financial Services, a hybrid RIA and Insurance Agency based out of the Greater Philadelphia Area that serves nearly five hundred clients. Through a combination of digital marketing and in-person events, Samantha has built a scalable marketing solution for Thrive that has catapulted their revenue from a few hundred thousand dollars to more than $6 million in under three years.
Samantha joins us today to share her in-depth expertise on all things digital marketing, including marketing automation tools that have increased retention and response rates, how Thrive segments and targets their audience, and how compelling ad copy comes into play when converting prospects to clients. Listen in to learn what personal touches Thrive uses to incorporate a more human element to their process, as well as the “secret sauce” for getting people to actually show up to webinars.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/186
Christine Teh is the founder of Teh Financial Coaching, which provides tax consulting and financial coaching services to high-income individuals and couples. Christine has built a successful coaching practice by not only systematizing her coaching packages for clients, but also systematizing her marketing process through LinkedIn. Today she joins the show to discuss why the focus of her work is on short-term cash flow instead of retirement plans.
Listen in as we talk in depth about why Christine teaches her clients how to do the work so they can go out on their own and, ultimately, not end up as long-term clients. You will learn what she uses as her main marketing tool, steps she has taken to ensure she gets the number of clients needed to make her business sustainable, and how she is reaching so many clients.
For show notes and more visit: https://www.kitces.com/185