Welcome back to our latest interview series on the XY Planning Network advisor blog. We 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.
We've heard from two of our members so far: Michael Solari of Solari Financial Planning shared his experience and advice with us to kick off this series, and Marcio Silveira of Pavlov Financial Planning followed to provide his insights and tips as well.
About Kate Holmes
Kate Holmes, CFP® is the world traveling, wine and chocolate loving, Las Vegas living, plain English speaking founder of Belmore Financial, LLC. After 7.5 years at an investment advisory firm, she realized her heart was with those that need help the most and had nowhere to turn. She launched Belmore to provide accessible and affordable advice, conversations, and education (with a side of good old fashioned fun).
Kate specializes in working with people in their 20s through 40s who are ready to challenge the status quo and go after their happiest life. She also helps others on a large scale by working with companies to bring their employees action-oriented monthly videos and one-on-one advice meetings. She does not manage assets or sell financial products so there's never a conflict of interest.
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?
"You have no idea what the next 12 months have in store for you!" My business has had a number of evolutions as I've tried different things, my personal life bears no resemblance to what it was a year ago, and I've had more successes and challenges than I could possibly have imagined. And I wouldn't change any of it.
What we're doing is new. People are excited about it, but they don't necessarily understand it. Appreciate the excitement and enthusiasm you'll receive, use it to fuel continual building, but don't count on it to result in business right away.
And I wish I knew to connect with my peers. I thought I was all alone on this journey. I had no idea there were others on the same path. Thankfully, XYPN provides the community I so could have used 12 months ago.
What do you wish you had known before you launched your practice that would have helped avoid some stumbling blocks along the way?
I wish I knew it's OK to be totally virtual. That's my biggest regret. I wasted a ton of money on six months of rent and furnishing a nice 'lounge.' I didn't want to call it an office (See the pic Kate shared with us to the right!).
I wish I knew to spend my time on blogging, videos, and social media instead of filling those first few months with any meeting I could get with a potential COI (that had near zero ROI).
I wish I instituted the monthly-retainer from the get-go and wasn't so accommodating with my time and fees. I have a heart to help everyone, but this is a for-profit business, not a non-profit. It can be hard early on to think like a successful business owner and not like a kid thankful for an opportunity.
Even as a successful financial planner, all RIAs face challenges. What’s one of yours that you overcame?
I'd been in the industry nearly eight years when I launched Belmore so I had a lot of contacts. After blasting out the initial announcement, it felt like word spread quickly and loads of people were interested in my new business model.
I filled my calendar with meeting after meeting of interested COIs -- estate planning and family law attorneys, CPAs, advisors, record keepers, insurance agents, you name it. I walked away from every meeting energized from the positive feedback, excitement, and encouragement I received. People wanted to partner for events, projects, and business ideas.
I invested time, I followed up, and as the months went on, and little to nothing resulted from it all, it took its toll. There may be long term benefits to all those meetings, but I wish I had spent my time refining my message, building my brand, interacting with the media, and targeting my ideal clients instead.
What is your number-one piece of advice for a new advisor starting their own firm?
Take your conservative first year projection, cut it in half, then be amazed how happy you are making little to no money. This is not a get-rich-quick model. It's a long game. But it feels so good investing in yourself to build the business and life you want, which takes time.
What has been one of your best successes as a result of launching your own RIA?
I've made a few videos for clients, announcements, and my website. I've gotten great responses from them all, have had a number of people request how to's and to borrow my 'studio' (which is a 4' x 5' section of a spare room!), and was featured in InvestmentNews for doing videos differently. I've largely done them for myself as a creative outlet but I clearly need to do more!