9 MIN READ
When taking on anything new—a house project, a recipe, a job—most people first look to the same place for answers: the internet. It's no different when starting a financial planning firm.
And while you'll certainly find answers on the web, you'll also find inaccuracies, inconsistencies, and, quite simply, too much information. Weeding through it all becomes a project all its own.
Allow us to help. We rounded up XYPN's best blog posts, from finding your first clients to finding inspiration, for advisors who want to launch their own financial planning firms.
Choosing a Financial Planning Fee Structure – What Are the Options?
We talk with advisors a lot about fee-only vs. commission-only vs. fees-and-commission fee structures when they go to launch or transition their firm to working with Gen X and Gen Y clients.
Many advisors who are starting firms have only worked on the commission side of the industry, and aren’t quite sure about going fee-only. Others may have worked for large RIA’s that only charged their clients on an Assets Under Management basis, and are looking for alternative fee structures.
This is the first post in a multi-part series on determining the ideal fee structure for your financial planning firm. We'll start by talking through the different fee-structures that are used by fee-only advisors, and the pros and cons of each when working with Gen X and Gen Y clients.
5 Places to Look for and Find Your First Clients
Starting your own practice comes with a lot of decisions. What CRM will you use? How will you tackle compliance issues? Who’s going to design your snazzy new website? Which company will serve as the best custodian?
These are all questions that need to be answered prior to launching in order to ensure you’re prepared to best serve your clients.
But wait -- what about your clients? How do you plan to actually find them and grow your business?
Kevin Costner’s famous declaration, “if you build it, they will come,” may have worked in Field of Dreams, but it doesn't exactly apply to a new financial planning practice. Unfortunately, clients won’t be knocking down your doors immediately upon launch.
To find your first clients, you’re going to have to take action, get out there, and spread the news about the incredible new business you’re building.
Curious as to how to actually start growing your client base? Read on for an overview of 5 places to look for and find those first few people that need your services.
How to Convert Prospects into Leads: A 5 Step Process for Financial Advisors
Over the past four months, I’ve converted 76% of my prospects into clients.
It’s been mentioned on #XYPNRadio that if you’re converting more than one out of three prospects that you’re probably not charging enough. But I wouldn’t call myself “cheap.” I charge based on a percentage of income, and my hourly rate for those 76% averages $210 per hour.
I don’t say this to brag. I say this because the thinking goes that if your conversion rate is high, then you must be underpriced. That may be true in some cases, but doesn’t have to be.
The real reason I’m sharing this is if talented, honest advisors were able to convert more prospects into clients, we would be able to help more people live the lives they truly want and make the world a better place because of it.
Imagine - how many more lives could you impact if you doubled the number of prospects you turned into clients?
Marketing versus Prospecting: Knowing the Difference, and Developing a Plan
In a mailbag episode of #XYPNRadio, Michael Kitces and I discussed the difference between marketing and prospecting. We were both so invested in the topic, we spent nearly half the episode going over it!
That’s because I firmly believe that there’s a fairly confusing cloud of information around both prospecting and marketing. The two terms often get used interchangeably, when they don’t actually represent the same strategy - at all.
A Successful Business Strategy Starts with Vision
Over the years, strategy has become somewhat of an overused buzzword thrown haphazardly around the business world. But strategy should not be destined for the buzzword graveyard. It deserves better than that because it’s not just a convenient, catchy word. Strategy is important.
So, what exactly is it?
There are countless definitions of “business strategy”—there are even advanced degrees on the topic—and even more resources on how to create one.
The typical definition goes something like this: A business strategy is a set of guiding principles that generates a desired pattern of decision-making.
A good strategy should, therefore, act as a roadmap that outlines a set of rules defining the actions you should—and should not—take and things you should—and should not—prioritize to achieve your desired goals.
But I have an even simpler definition. Ultimately, a business strategy boils down to the business you’re trying to build—your vision.
Planning for Your First 12 Months as an RIA Owner: Part One
While the Advisor Success Team is here to help advisors throughout the entire journey of business ownership, we know that an especially critical time is the first 12 months after you’ve decided to start your own RIA.
It can be overwhelming to sort through the many facets of taking this leap, from ensuring all your registration paperwork is properly completed to knowing which software will be most valuable to creating your initial marketing strategy. There is a seemingly endless list of details to consider, and often not a lot of extra time to dwell on each of those details.
XYPN’s Advisor Success Team is focused on developing targeted training programs that walk you through critical considerations and requirements of this critical launch phase.
Read on to learn what you should focus on in your first 12 months of launching your RIA.
Planning for Your First 12 Months as an RIA Owner: Part Two
If your firm registration is now complete, congratulations! We know how much time and effort it’s taken you to get to this point in your business, and you’re now ready to get started on the launch process.
If you’re still waiting for that key piece of good news, keep holding tight and read on for an overview of the next two phases in the process: Business Launch and Business Growth.
Money Well Spent in the First Year of Running Your RIA
If you’re thinking about starting your own RIA, you probably have a few questions...or a few hundred. How much should I charge? Where will I find my first clients? And, something that weighs heavily on every business owner’s mind, how should I spend my money (if you even have any money to spend, that is).
Knowing how to effectively spend your money in your first year of RIA ownership is critical to the success of your firm. You need to weed out the “nice-to-haves” from the "must-haves" and distinguish your desirables from your non-negotiables.
Below, three XYPN advisors offer their advice on how to best spend your money (and how not to spend your money) in your first year of running your RIA.
10 Lessons You'll Learn in the First Year of Running Your RIA
So, you’re doing it. You’ve decided to quit your 9-5 job and jump feet first into the world of entrepreneurship. Congratulations!
For some people, this decision brings nothing but excitement. But for a lot of XYPN members who are just joining the Network, the idea of what lies ahead in their first year brings excitement tempered with uncertainty. Becoming your own boss comes with so much freedom—and so much responsibility.
As a Member Experience Specialist at XYPN, there are many facets to my job, but one constant is I talk to our members. A LOT. At this point, I’ve had one-on-one conversations with more than 400 XYPN advisors over the past year. During these conversations, we discuss their wins, their losses, their businesses, and their lives. We talk about where they’ve been, where they’re headed, and what they’ve learned along the way.
Compliance 101: Your First Year as Chief Compliance Officer
Compliance is one of the biggest concerns for new firm owners. Many advisers and financial planners are coming from the broker-dealer world, where compliance is presented as a Big Scary Monster. Others are career changers, and have no frame of reference at all for what RIA compliance entails. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the adviser’s knowledge of the industry, the word “compliance” is usually associated with terms such as “rules and regulations” and “enforcement, fines and deficiencies.” These terms can cause anxiety, and as a result, there is great apprehension for first-year compliance officers.
Despite these pitfalls and challenges associated with a first-year compliance program, there are plenty of ways to address and resolve any issues that firm owners may face in their role as Chief Compliance Officer. Let’s take a look at 3 common pitfalls and challenges for the first-year compliance program, and discuss how to address them.
Transition: Leaving Your Position with an Existing Firm to Start Your Own Fee-Only Firm
Leaving a position as an Investment Adviser Representative “IAR” for an existing firm can be a scary, yet rewarding, process. Being an IAR at an established firm tends to bring about a level of comfort grounded in the idea that as long as the advisory revenue continues to be generated, then consistent income will follow.
As a Registered Representative of a Broker Dealer, oftentimes a rep may be paid a salary that is derived from pooled commissions and sales of insurance products, combined with advisory revenue and sales incentives. Alternatively, in a more traditional compensation structure, a Broker Dealer Rep may be compensated directly from commissions paid on the purchase and sale of securities.
How to Deal With Failure In Your First Year
Starting your own firm is tough. You second-guess if you’ve made the right move to strike out on your own, wonder if the stress and hustle is worth it, and feel unsure of whether or not you’re cut out to be an entrepreneur.
It’s okay to feel like you’re flailing -- because we’ve all been there. Acknowledge the discomfort and worry and fear. And then remember that the successful planners you might look up right now to likely felt the same way you do at some point in their career.
Other people may make running a financial planning firm look easy. But as Jon Acuff said, you can’t “compare your middle to someone else’s end.” Even the most successful planners and business owners dealt with some version of the struggles you face today.
That being said, we wanted to share tips on how to deal with failure in your first year of running a financial planning practice. It’s tough to stay motivated, but definitely possible to push through to build a great practice.
Finding Success in Year One of Your RIA
I recently interviewed Shawn Tydlaska of Ballast Point Financial Planning in XYPN Radio Episode #103. Shawn is undoubtedly a success story. Within his first year of launching his RIA he has gone from zero to 38 clients – 26 of which are ongoing retainer clients. Success of this magnitude in an RIA’s first year is rare, but not unachievable.
Shawn made some interesting points in our interview, and I wanted to drill deeper into some of them here. We hear a lot of people’s success stories coming from a vantage point where they’re 3-5 years down the line from their initial RIA launch. Having Shawn’s perspective – both the good and the bad – having just launched a little over a year ago is incredibly valuable.
7 Things to Do Before You Launch Your Financial Planning Firm: What Would Arlene Say?
I talk to a lot of advisors who are gearing up to launch their firms. The world can never have enough fee-for-service financial planners, and I guarantee there are a fantastic group of clients out there just waiting for your unique planning style, personality, and experiences.
Unfortunately, not all financial planners feel prepared to strike out on their own.
Launching your own firm is exciting, but it can also be incredibly stressful. Putting some legwork in ahead of your launch can help prevent a lot of headaches once you get started.
You want to make sure you’re completely ready to hit the ground running, or at least as ready as anyone can be when they launch their own business.
These seven steps can help you start to lay the groundwork to successfully launch your own fee-for-service financial planning firm.
How to Determine Your Services and Fees When Launching Your RIA
At XYPN, we help financial advisors become successful RIA business owners by providing the support they need to launch their own RIAs and begin their entrepreneurial journeys. While owning your own business can be one of the most rewarding experiences, it also comes with risk and uncertainty.
Our launch series program helps mitigate the inherent risk of firm ownership by providing marketing, sales, financial planning, compliance, and business support throughout each of the phases of launching an RIA.
XYPN’s program is unique compared to other RIA consulting options in that we combine the compliance and business resources with access to a community of over 950 fee-only advisors who have all at some point launched their own firm.
XYPN Executive Business Coach Arlene Moss recently wrote about seven steps to take prior to launching your RIA firm; one of those steps is to determine the services you will provide to your clients and how you will charge for those services.
Launching Your Own Financial Planning Firm: Aaron Hatch of Woven Capital
Aaron Hatch shares his story and the journey that led him to launch Woven Capital.
Aaron Hatch, CFP® is a fee-only financial planner who loves helping creatives, entrepreneurs, and professionals make sense of their money. Based in Northern California, Aaron works virtually with clients all over the the US, but especially in San Francisco, Portland, Minneapolis, and in Iowa. He aims to help those he serves prototype their financial futures, today.
Launching Your Own Financial Planning Firm: Nannette Kamien of Inspiration Planning
Nannette Kamien shares her story and the journey that led her to launch Inspiration Planning.
Nannette founded Inspiration Financial Planning after a 15-year career in business and information technology, because she loves personal finance and helping others find their financial inspiration. Her firm offerings a different model where professionals can access comprehensive financial planning with a lower up-front planning cost.
Launching Your Own Financial Planning Firm: Jennifer Harper of Bridge Financial Planning
Jennifer Harper shares her story and the journey that led her to launch Bridge Financial Planning.
Jennifer founded her firm to provide today’s professionals with unbiased advice and implementation support for their financial goals. With more than 15 years of experience in the industry, Jennifer feels privileged to work with a wide variety of clients -- from young people looking for a ‘smart start’ to multi-generational, high net worth families.
While financial planning & investing can be complex, Jennifer believes her job is to make them approachable and useful tools to help clients achieve their goals.
Here's what she had to say about the experience of getting her own firm off the ground -- and a few valuable pieces of advice for any other financial professional looking to do the same.
Launching Your Own Financial Planning Firm: Cristina Guglielmetti of Future Perfect Planning
Cristina Guglielmetti's shares her story of how she launched Future Perfect Planning.
Cristina 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.
Launching Your Own Financial Planning Firm: Erik O. Klumpp of Chessie Advisors
Erik O. Klumpp shares his story of how he launched Chessie Advisors, LLC.
Erik is passionate about helping others achieve the lives of their dreams. He specializes in providing financial guidance and investment management to teachers, engineers, attorneys, and young professionals who are 30 to 65.
He explains his story, experiences, and insights on launching his own financial planning firm:
Running a Successful RIA: Financial Advisors Look Back One Year After Launch
XY Planning Network is leading the way in a new kind of financial planning firm, and we're proud of how we're helping young advisors create the businesses of their dreams. But launching -- and subsequently running -- your own RIA is still hard work.
You need to be dedicated to your goal and willing to devote a ton of time and energy to getting something successful off the ground. To keep you motivated and inspired, we reached out to a number of XYPN member advisors who have successfully run their own RIAs for a year or more.
We wanted to gather their insights, tips, and advice for others who are at the very beginning of their journey to launching their own firms and RIAs. There's so much to learn from those who have already gone through the process.
Kitces Roundup: Best Posts for Financial Advisors Looking to Start a Firm
What better way to close out a roundup post than with another roundup?
Check out 25 of the best posts for financial advisors looking to start a firm, straight from the renowned blog of XYPN co-founder Michael Kitces.
About the Author
As XYPN’s Content Manager, Kelly Moorman is tasked with communicating the Network's value proposition to the world. For years, Kelly has helped organizations tell their stories in ways that inspire others to listen, and to care. Her penchant for a well-crafted sentence, good grammar, and clever wordplay has earned her the moniker “Word Whiz” around the XYPN office. She’s thrilled to share XYPN’s story with you and the rest of the world.