XY Planning Network is excited to announce that we have five of our members launching their own firms in the month of January. We wanted to celebrate these advisors and help promote their brand-new firms by spotlighting their experiences, thoughts, and lessons learned on the XYPN blog this month.
This week, we’re excited to share Cristina Guglielmetti's story of how she launched Future Perfect Planning.
Cristina Guglielmetti is a CFP® dedicated to making financial planning accessible to everyone. She started Future Perfect Planning to work with young professionals who have felt shut out of the financial services industry.
Aggressive sales tactics, high minimums, and confusing fees have created the impression that there's no one looking out for the next generation of investors and clients -- and Cristina believes it's time to change all that. She provides flexible, straightforward advice in a structure that fits her clients' lives and establishes a strong, lasting partnership.
In May of 2014, I learned I would lose my job in December. I liked my job; it was the kind of planning I wanted to do (independent, fee-only, fiduciary, all the good stuff), with a flexible schedule, smart leaders and coworkers, and great clients.
I knew it would be difficult, if not impossible, to find a comparable position in another firm.
Just prior to finding out about the job loss, I learned about XY Planning Network. It seemed like a terrific idea, but I didn’t think it would really impact me directly. Our clients tended to skew a little older, and we already had in place a lot of the technologies and products and procedures that a group like XYPN helps you to get started with.
Still, I thought it would be great for the profession. Anything that gets under-served clients into the hands of qualified fiduciaries who can help them was cause to celebrate.
Dealing with a Changing Career Situation
But then came the job news. And a network of my peers, all practicing the kind of planning I want to practice, became more than just something I could cheer for from the sidelines.
Given the scarcity of financial planning jobs that are fee-only and flexible and give you the ability to work with the clients you want to help, it was clear that I was going to have to make it happen on my own.
XYPN was the first place I turned to help me figure it all out, and the resources and support available were considerable: message boards to discuss opportunities and challenges, built-in marketing and compliance help, and plenty of pep talk from people who have been through it all and are happy to share what they’ve learned.
Taking Steps to Launch My Own Firm
I was given the option to choose my own end date, so while I could have decided to leave my position earlier, I opted to stay through the end of the year to give myself the most time to lay the groundwork for my new firm. I took the summer to get my bearings and make some high-level decisions about how I would structure my practice.
I decided on a name, thought about whether I would do strictly project-based planning or offer investment management as well, and began to think about a niche.
In September I joined XYPN, got to know my peers, and spent the month learning as much as I could about how they designed and launched their practices. Without a doubt, my weekly cohort call -- a Friday morning video conference of the subset of XYPN members who also launched in January 2015 -- has been one of the most valuable aspects of my membership so far. It’s a really smart and dynamic group, and they kept me from putting things off too long. It’s a guaranteed good discussion every week on a variety of topics we are all facing as we launch our practices.
In October, I formed my LLC, started drafting my ADV, began thinking about a logo and website and how I would want them to look, and reached out to the professionals who would help me with that.
Balancing Work, Life, and Decisions Around a New Business
In the meantime, I was still working nearly full-time as well as managing the academic and social calendar of an active four year old.
Things took longer than they would have otherwise: I didn’t have time to work on the ADV as much as I wanted, so what should have taken a week given the compliance assistance we have took nearly three. I let too much time go by before following up with the designer so that pushed off the website work.
And I got too bogged down in details, since every decision seemed difficult to make unless I dealt with other decisions.
If I offer investment management services, where will I custody? If I choose ABC custodian, will they work with 123 software I would like to use? What will my fee schedule be, and how will I collect those fees, and does that need to be specifically outlined in the ADV or is it something that can be handled on a case-by-case basis?
I spent a lot of time and mental energy trying to predict every possible scenario.
Learning to Take Action
I generally try to follow the principle of “starting as you mean to continue.” In other words, get good habits and procedures in place from the beginning. And there’s certainly value in that.
But a lesson I’ve taken from the process of launching is that often, you don’t need to make the “best” decision if it’s hanging up all your time and making everything else take longer. Very little is set in stone: you want to get your company name right, and you want to be happy with the look and feel of your company.
Beyond that, you can change your mind a lot down the line as your practice grows and develops.
ADVs can be amended if you decide to go a different way with something. You can change custodians. You can take your time and use trials of various software rather than committing to everything before day 1. You can redo your website.
While I will be spending my first weeks in practice designing the workflows that will serve me well in the future when I get too busy to think about that anymore (hat tip to Michael Solari for the tip to work on your business, not just in your business, at first), I've also learned the value of just taking action and getting started.
If you wait to make the perfect decision about everything you’ll stop yourself from making any decision at all.
Then see how XY Planning Network can help you launch a financial planning firm that allows you to get your advice and guidance to your ideal clients.