I thought it might be worth some virtual ink to answer some of the more common questions I get from potential clients. It will be a three-minute read.
How many clients do you have?
- This question has good timing as I just updated all my compliance documents.
- I have 30 clients right now.
How many clients will you have at most?
- This question isn’t always asked as a follow-up to the previous one, but I usually provide the details as it is an important one.
- My target is to max out at 50 clients and I limit new clients to no more than one a quarter.
- This is a good target based on my service model and also the lifestyle I wish to live.
Is it just you?
- Yes. Sort of.
- My clients only deal with me, however, there are other people behind the scenes.
- They include:
- My paraplanner, who is also a CFP.
- Administrative assistant
- Compliance attorney
- Marketing assistant
- Again, while there are other people working behind the scenes, my clients will only ever work with me.
Is there a succession plan?
- This is the hardest question to answer as I have been trying to answer it for the last few years.
- The problem is there are very few practices out there like mine. And the ones close are full.
- I am hopeful my older son would like to come aboard at some point and he would be a great fit (business degree from John Carroll and has been helping me with various tasks the last few years). Right now he is in the “real world” but he has expressed an interest in a career with a little better life balance, which is something I can offer.
- Ultimately, this will be squared away in the next three years.
How much longer are you going to do this?
- I think I need to start coloring my hair as I am getting this a lot lately (disclaimer – I have had gray hair since college).
- I plan on doing this another 20 years.
- My job is mentally challenging, rewarding, easy on the body and keeps me engaged.
- Plus, I am of the belief that working will keep me mentally and physically stronger than retiring.
Do you really not charge a separate fee for investment management?
- I do NOT charge a separate fee for investment management.
- I will save the soapbox speech about the fallacy of paying your advisor investment-based fees for another day.
- Now, I cannot make fees such as custodian charges, investment expenses such as ETF fees, and transaction costs disappear. However, I do not charge separately for investment management. It is part of my flat fee.
In one sentence, why do you specialize in working with physicians?
- Don’t judge my grammar skills here as this is going to be a run-on sentence. Blame honors English classes at St. Vincent – St. Mary.
- They are good with delegating, focus on the big picture, like my transparent flat-fee, and get stuff done!
Do I need a million dollars to work with you?
- My average client is just over $3 million in assets. Most of my clients’ assets are in their workplace plans.
- Clients range from physicians just out of residency to retired ones.
- Some clients with larger assets see me as a deal because the average advisor would charge them over $40,000 a year based on my average size.
- Other clients just starting out like me as they are trying to make sure they are on the right path from the start.
What do you do outside the office?
- I do get this one every so often.
- Weekday mornings you can find me at the gym at 6. Well, the gym is unmarked so it might be hard to find, but I swear I am there.
- My wife and I are heading to the beach at least twice this coming year. We like the water.
- My sons and I will be hiking a 14er in Colorado this summer.
- Finally, I like to try something new every year. This year it will be kiteboarding in the Outer Banks. I saw people kiteboarding years ago on vacation and have always wanted to try it. Now I just need to work on my core strength.
Give me one important thing I should know when evaluating my financial advisor?
- If they haven’t asked for your tax return in the last 12 months you need to fire them.
- Focusing on investment management and ignoring taxes is like trying to lose weight by following every gym visit with a trip to the all-you-can-eat buffet. Taxes and your diet are boring but make all the difference between failure and success.
Hopefully this has been beneficial. As always, feel free to let me know if you have any questions. And I am open to tips for hiking a 14er and also kiteboarding!