Running a Successful RIA: Financial Advisors Look Back One Year After Launch

4 min read
August 27, 2014

XY Planning Network is leading the way in a new kind of financial planning firm, and we're proud of how we're helping young advisors create the businesses of their dreams. But launching -- and subsequently running -- your own RIA is still hard work.

You need to be dedicated to your goal and willing to devote a ton of time and energy to getting something successful off the ground. To keep you motivated and inspired, we reached out to a number of XYPN member advisors who have successfully run their own RIAs for a year or more.

We wanted to gather their insights, tips, and advice for others who are at the very beginning of their journey to launching their own firms and RIAs. There's so much to learn from those who have already gone through the process.

With that in mind, we're launching a new series to feature XYPN members and interviews that cover their experiences, lessons learned, and words of wisdom.

To kick things off, we asked Michael Solari of Solari Financial Planning to look back on one year of running his successful RIA -- and what his experience has been like.

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About Michael Solari

Michael SolariMichael Solari set out to create a financial planning firm that sticks close to its values and integrity to help those who need it most.

He realized that typical financial advisors don’t pay much attention to young people, let alone provide advice that is truly in their best interest. So in 2013 he set out to become a fee-only financial planner, building his firm from scratch to provide reliable, affordable advice on everything from paying down student loan debt to retirement planning and more.

Running a Successful RIA: Looking Back on Experiences and Advice for Other Advisors

If you could go back, what advice would you give to your younger self before launching your RIA?

I would tell myself "keep on keepin' on" (stole that from Joe Dirt). There are higher highs and lower lows when building a firm from scratch. It took close to 3 months to get my RIA approved, another month to get my first prospect meeting, and another month to get my first client.

It was a lot of work to take on and it was tough to see any validation during my first year. But if you keep plugging away you'll eventually make a pretty good living and enjoy the freedom this job gives.

What do you wish you had known before you launched your practice that would have helped avoid some stumbling blocks along the way?

Don't be afraid to hire professionals where you need help. To save costs I ended up doing everything myself first. Then after I got frustrated I ended up hiring people to do it the right way -- from doing my ADV to blogging. Know where your strengths are and don't be afraid to hire people where needed.

I also wish I'd spent time on client checklists and workflows. These lists do change, but they come in handy when your business picks up. They also help avoid forgetting things, which I had an issue with when things eventually picked up for my firm.

Even as a successful financial planner, all RIAs face challenges. What's one of yours that you're currently working on overcoming?

I think one of the things I still struggle with is finding time to work on my business as opposed to working in my business. Sometimes I get so caught up in the day to day activities that I forget that I need to spend time improving it.

If you're a new advisor I would highly encourage you to carve out time to work on your business/marketing plan at least monthly. I feel like I may have missed some opportunities because I got wrapped up in my day to day activities.

What is your number-one piece of advice for a new advisor starting their own firm?

I would say that things will get better. I remember my first couple of prospect meetings where I was really nervous and didn't land them. Over time you'll build the confidence you need to be successful. Keep on keepin' on!

What has been one of your best successes as a result of launching your own RIA?

The best feeling in the world was when I signed my first client. It took some time to get, but I'll never forget that feeling.

If you work hard at it and keep plugging away you'll be successful. The XY Network is the best model for young advisors. The industry typically gives poor advice to young people and they are hungry for objective advice. It's only a matter of time before this network becomes a household name.

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Alan Moore

About the Author

Alan Moore is the CEO and Co-Founder of XY Planning Network—a support ecosystem dedicated to helping fee-for-service advisors start, run, and grow their own financial planning firms and serve the clients they want. His favorite part about his job is dreaming about possibilities for what's next, knowing his stellar team will either tell him no or Get Sh*t Done to make it happen.

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