"How I Did It" Series with XYPN Member Ashley Foster

6 min read
March 18, 2024

We're excited to share another member story from our "How I Did It" series.  

Deciding to take the leap to start your own financial planning firm can be very scary. And actually "leaping" can feel overwhelming. There are so many decisions and responsibilities. How am I going to make this work? What business model should I use? How do I manage compliance? How do I market myself? What's this going to cost?

While the questions are the same for advisors starting their own RIA, their decisions are as individual as the advisors making them. In this peer-to-peer guest series, we take a deep dive into those decisions as XYPN members share their stories, resources, regrets, and successes experienced while launching their financial planning practice. 

Looking for a roadmap to start your own independent RIA? Check out our  comprehensive guide to starting your firm!

In this edition of the "How I Did It" series, we’re exploring the journey of XYPN member Ashley Foster, CFP® as he transformed his passion for helping others into Nxt:Gen Financial Planning. Ashley's story—from the support of XYPN to the unwavering encouragement of his wife—is a testament to the transformative power of preparation and going all-in. 

Meet Ashley Foster, CFP®, owner of Nxt:Gen Financial Planning, and financial sherpa to the next generation of veterinarians and their families. 

Armed with skills honed in the world of sales, Ashley was 9 years into a successful career as a financial advisor in the insurance industry. Succession was on the horizon. But, unsurprisingly for insurance industry career changers, his succession agreement was a promise that wasn’t coming to fruition. 

XYPN entered Ashley’s horizon from a Business Insider article written by XYPN’s co-founder, Alan Moore, on providing service to the next generations. His initial response: 

Financial planning for millennials? That’s not going to work. There’s no money to be made. And Ashey’s thoughts were validated by other advisors in the industry. 

But first impressions aren’t everything. 

Ashley soon found himself looking to get into real financial planning. For him that meant a deeper connection with clients that weren’t firewalled by an insurance policy—fueled by a nagging feeling of wanting to serve a different client base. Individuals and families with millions of dollars of investments were getting the highest level of expertise and care available, yet his own generation was being served by financial salesmen who were under no obligation to put their client’s interests above their own. It didn’t sit well with Ashley. 

The seed for creating a firm that makes financial planning accessible, affordable, and fun was planted. Ashley transitioned his practice to a boutique investment management firm in 2014, but a change of scenery did not shake that nagging feeling.

Flash forward to 2018 when Ashley's incredible wife Anna supported his decision to go with his gut and break from the world of insurance. Despite the common belief that millennials weren’t a viable niche, Ashley decided to put his CFP® training to use and took the leap to start Nxt:Gen Financial Planning.  

Ashley's "Start Nxt:Gen Financial Planning" To-Do list:

  1. Sell back former employer company interest  
  2. Get the wheels on the bus—registration
  3. Niche down and spread the word

First step—sell back his interest and renewal streams to his former partner. 

Next step—figure out the hurdle of registration. Thanks to XYPN’s Compliance team, Ashley had the support he needed to get Nxt:Gen Financial Planning off the ground. 

Armed with his newfound platform to pursue financial planning, Ashley set out to build Nxt:Gen Financial Planning from the ground up. Drawing on his years of experience in insurance sales, his approach put his sales know-how front and center. Getting clients to buy into an insurance policy can be a hard sell. But getting clients to buy into a brand-new fee-for-service financial planning firm required eyes. And lots of them.  

A website was Ashley’s weapon of choice. Recognizing the importance of a first impression (take that Business Insider!), he built a website that reflected the values and mission of his firm. And it's not just Ashley's expertise and passion that set Nxt:Gen Financial Planning apart—it's also his investment in building a strong online presence.

His initial investment—totaling almost $8,000—put his offering, values, and mission front and center. His goal wasn’t to rank as the #1 financial planning website but to say exactly what his target market—early to mid-career Gen Y, and Z veterinarians—needed to hear. Ashley knew that prospects were going to stumble upon his website and his virtual “store-front” needed to be able to do the heavy lifting where he couldn’t. 

The good news: it paid off. 

That’s in part thanks to finding the right person to communicate his message. Ashley partnered with Further Bound Design to tell the Nxt:Gen Financial Planning story that created a clear—and positive—first impression. And he’s continued that relationship with the latest iteration of the Nxt:Gen Financial Planning website that speaks to his target audience even more directly. 

Ashley was $6,000 shy of his 5-year revenue goal of $250,000, a huge feat. Nxt:Gen Financial Planning was a proven concept. It proved that an education, transparency, and—above all—genuine connection-first approach to financial planning not only worked but worked well.

What does independence mean to Ashley? 

Independence means different things to different people. That’s especially true for XYPN members. For Ashley, independence means he can choose his “hards.” Sure, 40-50-hour weeks aren’t the dream for every XYPN member— but for Ashley, working hard means he can choose to flex his best life on his time—most recently, Ashley and his wife Anna traveled to Africa and trekked the Himalayas. 

Oh, and those 40-50 hours a week? XYPN Ops has become a vital part of getting Ashley’s time in the business to trend down towards 25-30 hours by taking the unglamorous parts of firm ownership off of his plate. Together, their goal is to reach 3-4 weeks off in October and supplement with working every other Saturday. His dedication to building a firm that supports his best life and the lives of his clients was what continues to take Nxt:Gen Financial Planning far. 

Ashley’s pro-tip: That fear of failure, and the stress that comes alongside, is wasted energy. Shaking hands, sharing the word, and building a solid values-based foundation for your firm are the best ways to succeed. 

Why is Ashley’s story so important? 

Because his path to independence is a familiar one. Choosing between a career you’ve chased and your gut is a big—almost inevitable—hurdle in today’s world. When the crunch came, Ashley chose himself. And the well-being of his clients. 

Ashley’s journey wouldn't be complete without the unwavering love and support of his incredible wife, an ER veterinarian. With her encouragement and insight, Ashley feels empowered to continually tailor his services to meet the specific needs of his niche. Together, they understand the challenges and dreams of young professionals in the veterinary field, giving Ashley a deep understanding that informs his approach to financial planning.

XYPN members, like Ashley, have paved the way to starting and running their own firms and making it possible to go independent without being alone. Below are the numbers for what Ashley spent on the first year of Nxt:Gen Financial Planning. 

Ashley’s First Year Support: 

$6,175 Website Design
$800 Professional photo shoot for website
$2,650 Trademark Registration for Nxt:Gen Financial Planning
$3,213 Sales training through SalesPro Insider
$2,500 Business Coaching
$1,259 Networking
 $159 LegalZoom LLC Docs 
$355 FPA Membership
$375 CFP Dues
$800 XYPN RIA Registration Fee
$197 XYPN Books Startup Bookkeeping (Formerly FA Bean Counters)
 $4,908 XY Planning Network Annual Dues ($409 a month)
$3,298 Tech
$5,595 WeWork Office 2018 Rent ($700 monthly rent*)

* Ashley’s rent started in June of that year and WeWork required the first two months' rent upfront, paid in March of 2018)
$31,909 Total


Your firm, your terms. It can be done. Show me how.

Ashley Foster Ashley Foster

Ashley Foster, CFP® is the owner of Nxt:Gen Financial Planning, a location independent fee-only firm based out of Houston, TX. Nxt:Gen serves the unique needs of today's early and mid-career Veterinary Professionals. He started his firm back in 2018, but has been in the business since 2007. Ashley is married to Anna, an ER veterinarian. They are parents to their fur baby, a grumpy looking Devon Rex cat named François. When not working, Ashley and Anna enjoy traveling the world together. And when not traveling, Ashley enjoys playing soccer and participating in his new hobby, competitive boxing.

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