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Ep #82: Scaling Your RIA – An Interview with J.D. Bruce

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This week, J.D. Bruce – President of Abacus Wealth Partners – shares his experience of growing a firm from a solo practice to an established business with a professional management, a board of directors, and a governance structure. J.D., a CPA with management experience across a variety of industries, was hired at Abacus to help merge two solo firms into the successful operation that exists today.

Advisors who want to transition their firms away from the founder-centric model must be strategic about when and how to hire professional management. J.D. shares helpful advice on when to consider professional management. There are certain barometers advisors can use to ensure hiring happens at the right stage of growth.

In addition to bringing in professional management, advisors must also be intentional about creating a culture where decision-making power is completely transferred. Resources with the skillset to build the business need the autonomy to operate effectively. J.D.’s experience at Abacus is a case study in how solo firms can successfully implement the transition to growth-oriented, professionally managed firms.

Developing your solo practice into a large business is definitely possible and J.D. provides valuable insight on how to make the transition smoother.

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What You’ll Learn from This Episode:

  • A barometer for when advisors should consider bringing on professional management.
  • How founders can implement a succession plan to outside management.
  • The difference between a marketing manager and a COO.
  • The Abacus culture that lends itself to taking risks and pivoting quickly.
  • The first type of professional manager that J.D. suggests firms hire.
  • When an operating agreement becomes necessary when running a business.
  • What a director of operations does for an advisory firm.
  • How a large firm handles the process for recruiting and hiring additional resources.

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delegating-kitces

Ep #81: Delegating, Scaling, and Get Back to Enjoying Life – An Interview with Michael Kitces

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The New Year often allows business owners time to reflect on the successes and challenges from the previous year. Michael Kitces and I take a look back at the phenomenal growth that the XY Planning Network has experienced since launching in 2014 and analyze how delegating, time management, and hiring to our weaknesses has facilitated the rapid rate of growth. We have developed the skill set necessary to become successful business owners and share a few of the resources that have helped us navigate this exciting journey.

We closed 2016 out with 350 members; hitting our 20-year goal in just two years. Whoa! As accidental entrepreneurs who sought the freedom to build a lifestyle on their own terms, we discuss the pros and cons of pursuing an aggressive growth strategy in business.

Entrepreneurs looking to scale their businesses must overcome a common challenge – they must learn to delegate tasks. In this episode, we reflect on how we were able to meet this challenge and the tools that made delegating much simpler. Delegating tasks will free up the much needed time to focus on strategy and the overall vision for the business and is exactly what’s needed to take your firm to the next level. Kitces and I talk about how we’re able to best leverage our time, support staff, and helpful resources to effectively grow this business well beyond our initial projections.

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What You’ll Learn from This Episode:

  • What listeners can expect to learn from Michael’s new podcast – Financial Advisor Success.
  • The transition that entrepreneurs can expect to go from practitioners to business owners.
  • Simple tools that improved the process of delegating tasks and training employees.
  • The problems with waiting too long to hire additional support staff.
  • How building a time budget can help you determine how best to delegate tasks.
  • How you can build a cohesive team that leverages a variety of strengths.

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Ep #80: Planner, Professor, and Parent – the Career of Inga Chira

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Inga Chira is the President and Founder of Attainable Wealth, a fee-only RIA based in Los Angeles. She specializes in financial planning services for college professors and teachers. Inga has an awesome story and a very cool career path. Originally from Eastern Europe, she came to the U.S. as a high school exchange student and decided to stay and pursue her undergraduate and master’s degrees in the U.S. as well.

Inga began her career working with Citigroup and then started teaching courses in Finance at a local university. In 2009, she left Citigroup to pursue a Ph.D. in Finance in order to achieve a better work/life balance. During this time, she also became a CFP  through an interesting route that we talk about in detail.

Inga’s extensive resume and educational background led to lucrative job offers. However, she turned them all down in order to open her own firm last January. During her first year, she has started working with 23 new clients while maintaining her full-time position as an Assistant Professor of Finance. On this episode, we discuss her time management strategies and a simple, yet effective technique to connect with her ideal client.

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What You’ll Learn from This Episode:

  • The steps Inga took to transition into her career and found Attainable Wealth.
  • How she arrived at her current fee-only structure and how that impacted her practice.
  • Why she opened up an additional business line that allows her to build the assets under management.
  • The actual number of clients she’s worked with in the last year and how she got there.
  • The marketing strategy she used to begin generating leads within her target niche.
  • Inga’s time management tips for juggling competing priorities.

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Ep #79: From DC Politics to Founding a Fee-Only RIA – The Career of Cady North

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Cady North, like most of our guests on the #XYPNRadio podcast,  didn’t begin her career as a financial planner. She was a political science major and became the leading expert on the Dodd-Frank bill as it was being written. After getting her MBA, she decided to make the leap into fee-only financial planning. She started her firm, North Financial Advisors, to bring independent and affordable financial advice to young professionals with an emphasis on women.

Cady launched her firm in December 2015. On today’s show we talk about the ups and downs of starting a firm without previous financial planning experience. She also shares her experience from the first audit and we dig into her client growth in her first year and how she’s locating new clients.

She has an awesome story that will resonate with other female planners looking to begin their own firms. Unfortunately, there aren’t many firms that specifically focus on the financial needs of women. Cady is doing a wonderful job addressing that gap in the DC area.

New advisors will want to pay close attention to her fee structure, how she’s able to secure speaking gigs that connect her with ideal clients, and what she has in the works to generate leads from her website.

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What You’ll Learn from This Episode:

  • How Cady developed an interest in financial literacy at the age of 13.
  • How time boxing helps her maintain a healthy balance between work and personal life.
  • The pros and cons of getting an MBA for financial planners.
  • The pros and cons of taking custody of client accounts.
  • Why she avoided the common mistake of undercharging clients during her start-up phase.
  • How she locates speaking engagements in order to speak to groups that contain her ideal clients.

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compliance-mailbag

Ep #78: Compliance Mailbag with Jim Cullen

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This week on #XYPNRadio, Jim Cullen joins the podcast again for a compliance mailbag episode. Jim is the President of Financial Planners Assistance Corp., a compliance firm that works with independent RIAs and financial planning firms.

Often our mailbag episodes receive 5-7 questions from our VIP Facebook group. This time, we received 20 questions. Compliance is definitely a topic that advisors struggle with and Jim is the right expert to help us think through the issues that advisors need to know about when dealing with regulators.

Are you on the verge of starting your own firm and want to know how to get started while still being employed by an existing RIA? Jim has some great practical advice for you. We also talk about quite a few other topics, like what to expect when being audited and how giving gifts can create unintended consequences. Obviously, all information offered today should be considered general advice. Follow up with your state regulators for more specific information.

This episode is loaded with helpful information to help you comply with regulators in your state and at the federal level.

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What You’ll Learn from This Episode:

  • Why referring to a monthly retainer as a subscription is easier related to compliance.
  • Whether “testing the water” and collecting client leads while working for another firm is a reasonable way to start a new firm.
  • Why you want to start a new firm as a sole proprietor when working for an existing RIA.
  • The pros and cons of taking custody of client accounts.
  • How to avoid creating unregistered cash solicitors from referral client gifts.
  • How to prepare for compliance audits with states vs the SEC.
  • Issues involved with using shared, co-working spaces to run your RIA.

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Ep #77: Building a Niche Market Practice with No Formal Experience – an Interview with Kristin Harad

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Kristin Harad followed a very non-traditional route before landing in the financial planning industry. She initially dreamed of becoming an advertising executive on Madison Avenue in New York City and began her career as a direct marketer. This is where she honed her expertise building brand awareness for various firms and developing customer loyalty programs.

Kristin is a self-proclaimed, life-long learner who is always looking for the next opportunity. She’s never shied away from a new adventure; moving from coast to coast developing her marketing chops in email advertising, membership programs, and reward point systems. But, she has always been drawn to entrepreneurship.

After taking a year off and traveling with her husband, she combined her training as a life coach with a CFP designation and taught herself how to open a financial planning firm. Kristin had no previous experience as a planner. However, she was able to build a successful practice as one of the early torchbearers preaching the gospel of niche marketing. She focused primarily on a target audience of  new and expecting parents with young children. Then, she identified channels to effectively connect with that group of potential clients.

Her success led to new opportunities helping financial advisors develop their marketing campaigns. She’s become a noted speaker and sought-after consultant in the financial planning industry. The increased notoriety ultimately led her to choose between running her financial planning firm and nurturing this burgeoning advisor-facing practice. She talks about which path she chose and why selecting one is essential for consistent growth and a balanced lifestyle.

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What You’ll Learn from This Episode:

  • The pros and cons of creating a financial planning firm without legacy experience.
  • The loyalty service programs she set up to attract and retain new parents with children under five.
  • How and why she turned away clients who did not match her niche.
  • The niche marketing course she developed to help other advisors build their brand.
  • The decision process which led to closing her financial planning practice.
  • How running a location-independent practice supports her family and lifestyle goals.

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Ep #76: Alan & Kitces Unhinged: Marketing, DoL, & Going Solo

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In the hustle of this always-busy time of year, we thought it’d be a great idea to answer several of the mailbag questions from our private XYPN network. We start off with an announcement about the wide release of Advice Pay, our payment processor for advisors that follows the rules of all 51 states.

Alan and Michael then spend a couple questions discussing the effects of the Department of Labor’s new fiduciary laws, and which firms will have to change the most to accommodate them. We also dig into compliance regulations and how to limit risk when you’re advising on 401Ks.

The co-hosts also cover going solo as an advisor, how you need to market yourself, and how other advisors have transferred clients from a commission-based model to a net-worth retainer model. There’s much more in this episode that we can’t squeeze in right here, so be sure to tune in!

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What You’ll Learn from This Episode:

  • The differences between advising on your own and as part of a larger firm.
  • Changes in compliance regulations at larger firms due to the DOL’s new fiduciary laws.
  • How you can convince clients to move away from a commission model toward paying you a steady fee.
  • Whether you can be liable or not when doing a fee-only review of a 401K.
  • Whether or not you can be sued by using a Best Interest Contract Exemption (BICE) with clients.
  • Where Kitces finds inspiration for all the pieces he writes by tapping into his network.
  • Alan & Kitces’ different approaches to editorial schedules and getting content out on time.

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Ep #75: Location Independent and Working with Expats – The Career of Hui-chin Chen

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This week, we’re excited to welcome Hui-chin Chen, a Certified Financial Planner and co-owner of Pavlov Financial Planning, a fee-only firm based in Washington D.C. This Taiwanese native received an undergraduate degree in business before relocating to the United States to pursue her master’s degree at Carnegie Mellon.

Specializing in financial planning for digital nomads, Hui-chin has created a location independent practice that caters to expats with assets in both Taiwan and the United States. As a digital nomad herself, she’s been able to build her practice while relocating between various countries with her husband – a professional in the Foreign Service.

Hui-chin’s experience will shed new light on a world of possibilities for financial planners with a sense of adventure. She lays out the benefits and challenges of operating as an advisor in a global environment. After learning about Hui-chin’s location independent lifestyle, you may never look at financial planning the same way again.

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What You’ll Learn from This Episode:

  • Why the FPA residency program is a great start for advisors with no financial planning background.
  • Alternative to hiring advisors as employees during a firm’s start-up phase.
  • How financial planning lends itself to a location independent lifestyle.
  • The challenges of being a generalist with a focus on international clients.
  • What advisors should do when encountering clients who don’t completely fit a niche.
  • How blogging helps to refine her financial planning skills and attract clients.

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monthly-retainers-down-under

Ep #74: Monthly Retainers Down Under – An Interview with Adele Martin from Australia

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Adele Martin may just be one of the most famous guests ever interviewed on the XYPN Radio podcast. Not only is this Australian planner disrupting the industry down under with her fee-only firm, Experience Wealth, but she’s also a recent recipient of the prestigious Independent Financial Advisor Excellence Award based on the innovative strategies she’s using to expand her firm’s reach while keeping costs low.

After spending a number years in a partnership that focused mainly on early-stage retirees, she made an about face and opened a firm to focus on millennials and Gen Xers.

Adele provides an international perspective on the evolution of fee-only planning. Australian financial planners have transitioned to a business climate that is heavily regulated by the government. She shares a fascinating glimpse into the business environment as we discuss the impact of the new laws on firms and their customers.

Adele has a thriving practice and is passionate about educating the masses. She was ahead of the curve with her fee-only planning firm and now Australia is pushing planners to follow her lead. We can learn a lot about serving clients and running a successful firm service from our counterpart on the other side of the globe.

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What You’ll Learn from This Episode:

  • The evolution of the financial planning educational standards in Australia.
  • The transparency requirements on the financial planning industry in Australia that have been in place since 2008.
  • Various ways planners can work with younger clients and provide guidance in addition to long-term planning.
  • The similarity in the wage gap between genders between Australia and the U.S.
  • The monthly license fees to operate a financial planning firm in Australia.
  • The marketing and operational strategies she uses to attract 1-2 clients a week.

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Ep #73: Fiborg and the Future of the Financial Planning Industry – An Interview with Steve Dunlap

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Steve Dunlap is our guest on the XYPN Radio podcast this week. He is the President and COO of FolioDynamix, a firm that employs technology to help advisors improve their business processes.

This interview is a break from the norm. Instead of learning directly from a firm owner, Steve provides a unique take on the financial planning industry from a business development and software solutions perspective. He’s at the forefront of changes in technology and lends his expertise to help explain how those changes will impact the financial planning industry.

Steve arrived in his current position after an interesting path that took off after a chance meeting with a software salesperson. His experience is a perfect example of how remaining open to a variety of opportunities can help your career bloom in ways beyond your wildest dreams.

We discuss the upcoming trends on the horizon. Are advisors in danger of being replaced by “robo advisors?” How will the new changes in the Department of Labor ruling impact advisors? Will fee compression depress the growth in the financial planning industry? In addition, Steve offers an interesting set of predictions. Tune in and let us know if you agree with his take on the future of the industry.

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What You’ll Learn from This Episode:

  • How keeping an open mind to opportunities can lead to success in your career.
  • The opportunity for growth that exists for advisory firms.
  • When firms should bring in professional management.
  • A rule of thumb that firms can use to determine when to make professional changes to management.
  • How advisors are keeping client fees in line without succumbing to fee compression.
  • What Fiborg is and how technology will be used to enhance what advisors can deliver.

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