I realized I am coming up on another anniversary for my firm. It’s snowing outside my window so it seems like a good time for deep thoughts and put some of them down on paper. Well, I’m not really a deep thinker but I will do my best.
- I was talking recently with a buddy of mine. He is involved in some entrepreneurial groups. I told him I don’t consider myself an entrepreneur, but I do know I couldn’t ever go back to being an employee. Which is funny considering when I was interviewing to get into this industry years ago some interviewer said I would never be able to work by myself.
- When I started it was considered cutting-edge to run a virtual practice. I think we all know how much the world has changed in the last couple of years. However, I bought a laptop when I launched to provide myself the most flexibility to work regardless of location as I was doing a lot of meetings in clients’ homes. I finally ordered a new desktop computer since pretty much every client wants to do virtual meetings and I don’t have to leave my home office. The new computer should be here by Memorial Day. I’m not kidding.
- Speaking of technology, I use a lot of it in my practice. The difference is now I know what works for my practice and am no longer testing out every new piece of financial technology out there. I spent a lot of time “kissing frogs” of the financial planning software world the first few years of my practice. You might be surprised by how much technology is out there in the financial services industry.
- Most advisors like doing media. I was the same when I first launched. Unfortunately, I realized the hard way potential clients coming my way from media have been some of my toughest clients. I won’t go into the myriad of reasons, however, don’t ever expect to see me quoted in articles.
- My assumption when I launched was I would simply be a financial advisor. This means clients would come to me and I would manage their investments and nothing more. Kind of like what most wirehouse and bank advisors do. It quickly dawned on me that as a CFP®, this would not suffice. I needed to understand the entire financial lives of my clients and truly practice as a Financial Planner. This is why I often refer to myself as a planner and not an advisor. It is a difference in terms most people don’t notice but does matter in my world.
- I think the single best thing I get to do as a planner is let clients know they can do a huge goal of theirs. These goals range from renting a house in a nice place for a month or two during the year, paying for college for their kids, or even buying a home in a warmer location to stay during the winter. It’s just a wonderful feeling.
- With the shift from just focusing on investments to the entire financial picture, clients and I spend more time on where I can add value. It’s less about investments and more about things like making sure we aren’t tipping Uncle Sam, protecting against identity theft, updating beneficiary information and more.
- After experimenting with various types of marketing concepts (FB ads, LinkedIn posts, networking, media interviews, and more), I realize the most effective marketing for me is what you are reading. The articles I send out every week (You thought I was going to say something cheesy like asking for referrals from clients didn’t you). The weekly articles provide a good way for people to get to know me and it helps my overall SEO results.
- My practice is definitely a lifestyle one. Unlike most firms, my goal is to add clients I know I can help and we like one another. I have no desire to be the biggest firm out there with the highest revenue. I like the flexibility with a lifestyle practice that allows me to spend time with family, get outside when the weather permits, not work evenings, and more. Plus, this style of practice will easily lend itself for me working another 20 years or so.
- As an extension of this, I have learned I need to strictly limit how many clients come onboard in a year. I will never sacrifice the service level for existing clients due to new clients. With that, I keep thinking in 2-3 years I will no longer be accepting new clients, except by referral from existing clients.
- Finally, as quickly as things are changing out there, it seems as though my practice is slowing down. I simply mean I am getting a better sense of what works best for my clients and my practice. My practice will continue to evolve, but I now know in what specific direction.
As always, thanks for reading this and putting up with my silly articles. Here’s to another 6 years…at least.