Editor's Note: This special blog post celebrating one year of XY Planning Network comes from our co-founder, Alan Moore.
On April 4th, 2014, just one year ago, we sent out a press release announcing the launch of the XY Planning Network. I thought it would be fun to do a little recap on how XYPN came to be, and share some bits of history folks may not know.
It was December 27th, 2013 when I wrapped up a call with my study group, #FPHackers. I realized that we were all being asked the same questions by advisors looking to start their own firm.
“What CRM should we use?” “Which scheduling software is best?” “Who do you use for compliance?”
All of these advisors were working long hours to try and answer questions that others had already answered. They were recreating the wheel.
Developing the Idea for XY Planning Network
Just a couple of days after Christmas, I emailed Michael Kitces with a vague idea of building a community for advisors who wanted to work with Gen X and Gen Y clients. Most of these advisors would be creating startup firms.
Within a few hours, I had a multi-thousand word response with ideas on how to make it work – apparently Kitces had been thinking about the same thing as well, an extension after starting NexGen almost 10 years prior – and he affirmed that he wanted to partner on the endeavor.
Come to find out, he was standing in the hospital welcoming his youngest daughter into the world. (Rose Eunhae Kitces, born December 27th, 2013).
He made me promise to never tell his wife, and I figure it’s been long enough that she won’t be too mad!
Our Soft and Full Launches
(and Our Unofficial Jumping-the-Gun Launch)
We kept the launch of XYPN very quiet until Michael one day decided to send out this tweet:
The link he posted went to a landing page with a newsletter signup and absolutely no information other than the name XY Planning Network. Within a few hours, we had over 300 newsletter subscribers and our phones were ringing from reporters calling us.
In fact, one reporter wrote an entire article about XYPN having absolutely no idea what it was! He called Michael and I for quotes, we declined, so he drew on Michael’s prior articles and called some others who had no clue what XYPN was and quoted them talking about it.
(This is the link to the original piece on Financial Planning the Magazine.)
It was amazing the interest that a single tweet generated. Lesson learned – if you go into business with Kitces, be prepared for the media frenzy.
We planned to go live on April 4th. I was returning to Milwaukee from Bozeman, Montana, and got stuck in Minneapolis thanks to a giant snow storm. Instead of pushing out the launch date (as Michael suggested), I decided launching a virtual advisory network from a hotel room was fitting, so the website went live as scheduled, a press release was sent out, and we scheduled an intro webinar for the following Monday.
We maxed out our GoToMeeting account with 100 attendees on our first intro webinar, and had to schedule another one not long after to keep up with the interest.
We planned for April 4th to be our “soft launch” day, with June 1st being our “full launch” day. We were going to call our first wave of members Founding Members and assumed we would be hustling to find 20 of those Founding Members in 2 months.
We admittedly underestimated the need of what XY Planning Network was bringing to the marketplace. We hit 20 founding members within 3 days and decided to expand the class to 30 firms, which was full within 10 days after launch.
We had to cut off accepting new members, because I was the only one working on onboarding new members -- and I still had a full-time job running my own advisory firm!
Growing the Network and the Team
We immediately started looking for an Operations Manager, and were thrilled to find Maddy Roche. She's our Director of Getting S**T Done. We honestly couldn't have navigated the first few months without her on board. Thankfully, we had already our Director of Marketing Kali Hawlk on board (as a part-timer then, and full-time now) to help us manage communications. We wouldn’t be here today without our amazing team.
After the initial launch, we worked with our founding members to figure out exactly what they wanted from us and from a network that was going to represent them publicly. Their answers led us to create our first t-shirt for members that read “Financial Planning – It isn’t just for boomers anymore” and that t-shirt set the stage for what XYPN would become.
Our member feedback has subsequently shaped almost all of our member benefits, including NAPFA Membership, compliance services, and more.
Why We Started XY Planning Network -- and Why We'll Be Here for Advisors for Years to Come
XY Planning Network’s mission is to bring fee-only financial planning to Gen X and Gen Y clients. In order to do that, we realized we would have to do away with how business had always been done, and create a new service model that catered to the next generation of clients.
Our firms barely resemble the established firms out there, with the one similarity being that we all call what we do “financial planning.” If you want to see an example of how different our members are, look for the XYPN t-shirt at your next conference… I bet there is at least one there!
So today is our 1st birthday. In one year, we went from launching a website to over 70 firms in the XY Planning Network, bringing on 12 firms in March 2015 alone.
As we look ahead at the next 12-24-36 months, we see the landscape of financial planning shifting. Virtual meetings, robo-advisors, niche markets, new service offerings, and more are going to completely disrupt how financial planning advice is delivered.
We also know that our members will be at the forefront of those changes, because they aren’t willing to say “but that’s how it’s always been done.” Instead, we look to see how we can do our jobs better for our clients.
To our founding members, I want to say thank you… from the bottom of my heart - thank you. We wouldn’t be here without you. When we launched XYPN, we were nothing more than an idea. 30 advisors were willing to stand up and say “we want in” and helped us create the community of advisors that we have today. Your desire to create something that would make it easier than ever to start a financial planning firm, and to bring financial planning to the next generation of clients, is something we will never forget.
So this is where we are 12 months in. Next year, I will be able to talk about our first conference, new services offerings and benefits that members ask for, and the launch of a new educational program that will help take our members to the next level.
I hope you will join us on our quest to reshape financial planning for future generations!