Advice for Independent Financial Advisors, From Advisors

7 min read
November 16, 2020

When you launch your own RIA, you’re no longer "just" a financial planner, but a business owner too. You're not only responsible for delivering quality comprehensive financial planning to your clients, but you're also in charge of marketing, bookkeeping, operations, compliance, and much more. No matter how good you look in hats, it can be challenging to wear so many at one time. And it's easy to get caught up in the day-to-day grind.

That's exactly why we like to remind firm owners to never lose sight of the importance of working on their businesses; this is just as important as working in the business, which is what many advisors become accustomed to during their pre-ownership days.

With the end of the year in sight (raise your hand if it can’t come soon enough), there’s no better time to act on this reminder and step back and reflect on what you’ve built as you look forward and think strategically about the year ahead.

Whether you’re still in the early stages of entrepreneurship or you are several years into the journey, one key thing can bring you more success than any other: community. And that’s exactly where I turned for this blog. I reached out to a handful of XYPN advisors to share their best advice for financial advisors like them as we head into the new year. Here’s what they had to say.

Mary Beth StarjohannKnow your process, draft a sales pitch template and market the heck out of yourself. So many people are stuck in the weeds refining the details of their systems and structures, that they don't focus enough on business development. Be clear in your process, but don't get lost in the details. Spend that valuable time building a marketing and business development plan and once you've seen traction (and have a revenue that feels good), turn back to refining the details of your systems.”

–Mary Beth Storjohann, Chief Marketing Officer of Abacus Wealth Partners and the Founder of Workable Wealth

Sidney DivineSometimes there’s hesitancy in reaching out to folks to discuss your services. But if you think about it another way- ‘what if something were to happen that your services could have prevented?’ You owe it to the world to share the great things that you can do for them. That doesn’t necessarily have to equate to their becoming a client. How we look at it in our discovery meetings is ‘it’s less about whether or not you become a client; our goal is to simply leave you better than what we found you.’”

–Sidney Divine of Divine Wealth Strategies

Taylor Schulte"Number one: While podcasting might be all the rage these days, you won't find success on the platform if you dread talking into a microphone every week. When it comes to marketing, choose ONE single thing that not only speaks to your ideal client but also aligns with your natural traits and abilities.

"Number two: If you find yourself having fun with a brand new marketing project (e.g. website, podcast, YouTube), you're likely avoiding the hard work needed to make it successful. For example, hitting record and publishing that first podcast episode is much more difficult than researching microphones and brainstorming show names. If you want a quicker path to marketing success, push the fun stuff aside and force yourself to do the hard work first.

–Taylor Schulte of Define Financial

Eric Roberge (1)Focus on specific areas of planning that resonate with your ideal clients and that will differentiate your service from the thousands of other advisors out there. Rather than try to target a specific demographic or psychographic, simply pay attention to the planning opportunities and challenges that continually come up in client conversations and you'll realize where to focus. When you can provide this specific guidance based on your complete knowledge and experience with the planning topic, you will be able to discuss the pros and cons from various angles and perspectives (not just your own), and your client relationships will thrive because of it.”

–Eric Roberge, Founder of Beyond Your Hammock

Luis Rosa“Learn to leverage technology and relationships in order to maximize your time doing the activities that are most important and lead to firm growth. Also, don’t give up on your efforts when sometimes you don’t see immediate results. A lot of things won’t happen overnight, but you must stay flexible, yet consistent in your approach.”

–Luis Rosa of Build A Better Financial Future (BBFF

Danna Jacobs“Take actions that are aligned with your long-term goals on a regular basis is the most important key to success. For some of the larger goals, we tend to wait for a big window of time when we can commit to those goals, but in reality, those windows rarely happen. Instead, break up those goals into actionable items and act on them regularly.”

–Danna Jacobs of Legacy Care Wealth

Cady North“Make sure you set up a business that nourishes you. Think first about the things you need (whether it be boundaries, time off, gym time, etc.) to recharge and build them into your practice from the beginning. At the same time, ensure that you charge enough, and here's one way to find out if you are. Take two weeks to track your time and find out how many hours you're working or thinking about work each of those weeks. Take the average to create an average monthly or annual figure for hours worked. Then tally up your revenue for that same time period and divide revenue by that average hours worked figure. Are you happy with your effective hourly rate and does it reflect your education, experience, and the value you provide to clients? If not, consider raising your prices, find ways to take more non-working time for yourself and/or use automation tools to fill in gaps. The people who rely on you (family, friends, clients, etc.) won't be served well when you eventually become burned out.

–Cady North of North Financial Advisors

Daniel Kopp“Show up where your target clients in your niche are (Facebook groups, Reddit forums, local meetups, etc.) and seek to add massive value. That might be answering questions, sharing accurate information, or helping others. Don't sell - just let your expertise shine through and you'll build a group of people who know, like, and trust you. It's a long play strategy that can pay massive dividends in the end.”

–Daniel Kopp of Wise Stewardship Financial Planning

Christine Centeno“Be genuine, confident, and don't be afraid to try new things and push yourself. Most importantly find a support system (like a study group) to challenge you and sometimes commiserate with!”

–Christine Centeno of Simplicity Wealth Management


Kyle MooreWork on building your confidence and credibility. You need to feel the utmost confidence in your ability to deliver valuable advice worth paying for. Don't fake it, build it. You grow your confidence by learning and working hard at creating a financial planning service that stands out. It's a positive feedback loop. The more you grow as an advisor, the more confidence you will develop. Clients and prospective clients will feel the confidence radiating off you which will propel them toward viewing you as their trusted advisor.”

–Kyle Moore of Quarry Hill Advisors

Donovan Brooks"1. Plan your work, work your plan. Small progress each day amounts to exponential results long term.
2. Show up and double down on your strengths.
3. Don't forget to have some grace with yourself.
4. Advisors are needed now more than ever. You have an obligation to educate and serve those in need."

–Donovan Brooks of Storyline Financial Planning


And there you have it—your advice for the new year! Remember to reflect on how this year went—the good, the bad, and the downright ugly—and then move forward to make your next year in business better than ever. Onwards and upwards!

Isabel Leong

About the Author

As a Lead Member Experience Specialist at XYPN, Isabel connects members to the most valuable resources and benefits relevant to them and their business. She specializes in working with members in the Scaling phase, which gives her unique insight into what kind of growth and pain points that experienced advisors go through. Isabel believes that being a lifelong learner lays a strong foundation for successful entrepreneurship.

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