Welcome back to our final installment of our interview series on what it takes to run a successful RIA. We've reached out to a number of XYPN member advisors who have successfully run their own RIAs for a year or more and gathered their insights for others who are at the very beginning of their journey to launching their own firms and RIAs.
Today, we're featuring words of wisdom from Sophia Bera of Gen Y Planning to wrap up our series.
About Sophia Bera
Sophia Bera, CFP® is the founder of Gen Y Planning and is the top Google search for “Financial Planner for Millennials.” She became a CFP® so that she could help answer her friends’ financial questions. After working in traditional financial firms since 2007 and then going to work for a New York start-up, she decided to quit her job to launch her own firm in the summer of 2013. Now, she’s location independent and works virtually with clients in their 20s and 30s across the U.S.
Sophia is a contributor for AOL’s Daily Finance website and is getting ready to release her first ebook for Gen Y. She's also been quoted on outlets including Forbes, Business Insider, InvestmentNews, MarketWatch, and The Huffington Post.
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?
Just start. Hire a compliance person. Choose a business name. Start creating content for your website. Hire a web designer. Choose a CRM. Hire a bookkeeper in the beginning -- not doing so was a huge mistake of mine for not doing this immediately.
Start creating systems in the beginning and stay as organized as possible.
What do you wish you had known before you launched your practice that would have helped avoid some stumbling blocks along the way?
Get involved with a mastermind group as quickly as possible so that you have other people to bounce ideas off of and help you when you're feeling stuck.
I also wish I had taken my own advice given above when it came to having a website right from the get-go. I was getting quoted by the media and my website wasn't live because I hadn't gotten my content to my web designer, so I missed out on a few potential clients because I didn't have a website.
At least set up a landing page to capture email addresses if you're just starting out and you're feeling behind on getting a site set up (and looking exactly how you want it to look). Several XYPN members have been smart about this and that's exactly what they've done ahead of officially launching their firm!
What is your number-one piece of advice for a new advisor starting their own firm?
Choose a niche. There's a million financial advisors out there -- what are you going to do to stand out? How can you leverage your experiences, interests, and expertise in order to serve an ideal set of clients?
Getting niched down doesn't limit you at all. It makes you the go-to professional for the an entire group of people. And by offering virtual services, you have access to that group of people no matter where they live. It might have been hard to access technology-savvy cowboys who want to invest (or whatever your specific crazy niche is!) before if you lived in Ohio.. but now you can connect with those people.
Then, hire a kick ass web designer to build you a site that sets you apart from other advisors.
This is like your business card when you're working with Gen X and Gen Y clients, and providing virtual services or billing yourself as a planner who understands technology and younger people.
Remember, your website is going to be the first thing people see if you want to help anyone ages 20 to 40 or so. They're going to look for you online. Make a good first impression.
What has been one of your best successes as a result of launching your own RIA?
I never thought that having a niche would lead to so much press. Be kind to reporters and writers and they will call you again and continue to quote you and feature your work.
By choosing a niche, it allows the media and prospects to come to me and I don't have to do as much to go to them. Also, if you would have told me that I would have gotten more job offers in the past year as I did in the last 10, I would have launched my own biz years ago. Now I'm permanently unemployable and I love it!
Read the Full Successful RIA Series
Don't miss the rest of the interviews in this series, featuring these XY Planning Network members and their experiences: