How to Leave a Salary Behind to Launch an RIA of Your Own

3 min read
August 14, 2023

If you’re looking to leave your existing job and start your journey to independent RIA ownership but you’re afraid to lose your paycheck or have concerns about startup capital, you’re not alone. Financial insecurity can be frightening but the good news is many XYPN members before you have walked a similar path and are more than happy to share the tips and tricks they learned along the way. 

XYPN members, January Smith and Aletta Tibbetts, EA recently sat down with XYPN Field & Events Marketing Manager, Aimee Arnaud, to discuss the how and why of leaving a steady paycheck behind and changing careers to launch their own financial planning firms. 

January is 1 year in with his firm, Janus Financial Planning, LLC. After receiving his Bachelor of Science degree in Mechanical Engineering from The University of Texas at Austin, he began an eight-year career in engineering before making the leap to his financial planning career. 

Aletta is 6 years in with her firm, Eos Financial Planning. She spent a decade working as a Technical Program Manager, working in compliance and cybersecurity, before making the decision to go into business for herself. 

If you couldn’t join us live or haven’t watched the recording quite yet, hear down to the penny what worked for Aletta and January, and what didn’t, as they transitioned from a steady paycheck to the world of entrepreneurship.


Some highlights include:

#1: The decision to launch a firm vs join an existing firm 

When you decide to make the leap from your previous career to the world of financial planning, you have options. You can choose to join another fee-only firm, venture into the broker/dealer space, or wear your CEO hat and launch a firm of your own

January and Aletta share what went into their decision-making process when they decided to leave their former careers behind and why they choose solopreneurship over other options.

They touched upon how they determined both their financial runway and budget for launch, and how they were able to lean on the support of their partners as they got their firms up and running. 

#2: Defining your service model and fee structure

As with anything, there are many different ways to organize and set up your business. Aletta and January share what the first few months of firm ownership looked like for each of them, including sharing what their service model looked like and how it’s changed as their firms have matured and grown

After they dive into service offerings, they each provided a behind-the-scenes look at their fee structures, including how they align with their service model and how they set their fees to ensure they’d be profitable. 

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

#3: To niche or not to niche? 

If you’re a fan of XYPN, you know we’re big proponents of niches, so it’s no secret niches came up as a topic of conversation during this discussion. 

XYPN Co-Founders, Alan Moore and Michael Kitces, have continually encouraged advisors to define a niche within their financial planning practices. Not only does a niche help advisors differentiate themselves from the competition, but there’s also data to show that niches impact the success and revenue growth of a firm. 

January hasn’t defined a niche quite yet, and he shares more about the reasoning behind that and if a niche is in his future. Aletta shared more about her how she established her niche and the benefits of doing so within her business. 

These types of conversations highlight why community is the most-valued benefit of XYPN membership. With over 1700 members, you'll find shared stories, insights, fears, problems, and solutions that elevate you and your firm in all the ways that matter most to you. Whether you’re looking to launch a firm or strategizing where to take your business next, explore more on-demand events and hear directly from members of the XYPN community who understand your experience better than anyone else. 

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


About the Author
After getting her start as a Network Navigator on Team XYPN and then joining the Marketing team as an Email Marketing Manager, Lindsey White now manages all things optimization and automation in her role as XYPN's Sales & Marketing Operations Manager. She is (almost) as passionate about creating and optimizing processes as she is about growing the movement; lucky for her, she gets to do it all here at XYPN.

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