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061: Building a Successful Practice That Is a Good Fit for You

Building a Successful Practice That Is a Good Fit for You

Advisors need to be able to help their clients meet not just their short-term goals, but also their long-term wealth management goals, and that means building strong relationships with clients and having a clear understanding of their needs and priorities. Today’s guest has built a successful practice doing just that.   

Daryn Form has built a successful financial advisory business over the past 20 years. In 1999, he earned the Certified Financial Planner™ professional designation. In 2011, he earned the Canadian Investment Manager (CIM™) offered by the Canadian Securities Institute; this professional designation is required to be licensed as a discretionary portfolio manager in Canada. Daryn uses a scientific process-driven approach to investing—along with his breadth of experience and knowledge in wealth management and advanced financial planning—to help his clients achieve their financial goals. 

Topics Discussed in This Episode:  

  • Who Daryn’s firm serves (1:14)
  • Why Daryn decided to become an advisor early on (3:24)
  • Daryn’s onboarding process for clients (9:36)
  • How Daryn approaches client acquisition (14:18)
  • Why Daryn decided to switch to an AUM-based model (20:53)
  • How would he start in the wealth management industry today (32:07) 

Links and Resources: 

  Assante First Avenue 

 Quotes From the Show:  

“In some ways the business has changed dramatically, in some ways it hasn’t changed at all – this is still a relationship-oriented business.“  

“The majority of our new clients come from our overwhelming effort to do terrific work for people, such that they want to tell other people about it.”

“Their problem is unique to them, but it’s not unique to others, which means it wasn’t unique to us.”  

With over two decades of industry experience, Daryn’s expertise stemming from building his own successful practice is useful to advisors of all different levels. Today, he is sharing his experience and wisdom with us. 

Below, we’re sharing three key ideas from the episode:

  • Daryn’s clientele and how he approaches serving and acquiring them 
  • How to build a business that is a good fit for you
  • Daryn’s advice for young advisors breaking into the industry 

To listen to the full episode, find us on iTunes or Stitcher, or click the link at the top of the page. 

Daryn’s clientele and how he approaches serving and acquiring them 

Many advisors build a clientele that is niche-oriented, allowing them to serve people on a deeper level than they could if operating in a diverse market. Daryn’s niche is owner-managed enterprises. Operating in Saskatoon, his client base is typically made up of business owners across the different industries in the area such as manufacturing, mining, construction, and more. 

This commonality amongst the client base of his practice has its benefits. The majority of these business owners come in seeking help with similar financial planning problems, allowing Daryn and his team to know what the future solutions look like early on in their relationship. This has allowed the practice to build a proven suite of services that can be reused over and over again, making the work they do more efficient and therefore, more impactful. 

Serving Clients and Client Acquisition

When it comes to acquiring new clients, Daryn’s firm is a relationship-oriented business. Most of his clients come from referrals, something that he attributes to consistent hard work and delivery for his existing client base. 

While he doesn’t put emphasis on manufacturing referrals, he does point out that it is important to let your clients know when you’re taking on new business, along with the types of clients you wish to serve, so that they are given a nudge to refer their friends and family members. From there, your previous dedication will lead to successful client acquisition. 

To serve his clients, there is not one process that fits every situation. Typically, Daryn and his team begin by getting to know the client and their needs in a comprehensive way – Who are they? Why did they start the business? What are the biggest challenges they need help solving through wealth management?

From there, Daryn’s firm steps in with suggestions of how they can fix the headaches the client is facing, using a solutions-based approach early on. He points out that taking several meetings upfront with a client is worthwhile in an industry where it could turn into a relationship spanning decades.

Hint: If you want to learn more about the operations at Daryn’s firm, check out the investor resources on their website for articles and videos covering different aspects of investing.

How to build a business that is a good fit for you

For Daryn, running his own business is something that excites him, making it easy for him to be excited about working with other business owners. This is the key to building a successful financial advisory practice that is a good fit for you: finding out who you will be happy serving in the long run. 

Instead of focusing on the net worth of clients you wish to attract, or going down a path that you think you are expected to follow, Daryn suggests spending time and energy to build a business that feeds your sense of personal fulfillment, setting you up for long term, sustainable success. 

When it comes to the number of clients a firm should serve, Daryn says that you can find success at any number of clients as long as you establish a process that makes sense for all parties involved. Whether you have 3 clients or over 100, setting up a service model that aligns the needs of the clients with the needs of the advisor, as well as setting up a revenue model that allows the advisor to be properly compensated, is the best path. 

Hint: Interested to hear more from about approaching financial advising from the lens of being a business owner? Check out Episode 41 with Dustin Serviss, where we discuss how owning his own business helps him advise his clients.

Daryn’s advice for young advisors breaking into the industry 

For those wishing to break into the financial planning industry, Daryn suggests utilizing the community of advisors around you. Take time to research firms that align with your value set and that serve communities that interest you, and look for mentorship opportunities within them. 

Similar to the legal or accounting world, the structure of the industry has shifted to people coming in as associates and working their way up at firms through hard work. Daryn suggests volunteering your services at different firms to find the best fit, and then making yourself a useful component at that firm, positioning yourself for upward mobility. 

To hear more from Daryn about the compensation model at his firm, what he attributes his success to, and his opinions on financial planning technology, check out the full interview. Listen with the link at the top of the page, or subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher to make sure you never miss an episode.

060: Grow Your Practice by Closing Estate Planning Gaps for Clients

Grow Your Practice by Closing Estate Planning Gaps for Clients

Financial advising isn’t just about what an individual should do with their money while they’re still alive. It’s also about their family and what happens to wealth after an individual passes away. Wills, estate planning, powers of attorney, and healthcare directives are all important things that a financial advisor’s clients should be thinking about, and that means that financial advisors need to think about them as well.  

Today’s guest is Tom Deans. Tom is a professional speaker and the author of two best-selling books that deal with the intergenerational transition of family wealth: Every Family’s Business and Willing Wisdom. Listen to the episode to hear what Tom has to say about why there’s an estate planning gap, how advisors can fill that gap, and what kind of effect the COVID-19 crisis has had on the subject of estate planning.  

Topics Discussed in This Episode:  

  • How Tom became focused on the issue of estate planning (3:37)
  • Why Canada has an intergenerational wealth issue (6:10)
  • How advisors can fill the estate planning gap and provide advice to their high net-worth clients (12:01)
  • What Tom has noticed about the culture of families that transfer wealth successfully (15:16)
  • What is The Willing Wisdom Index (23:09)
  • Whether there are any trends over the last few months related to COVID-19 (26:57)

Links and Resources: 

For a free software trial: [email protected] 

Call Tom: (519) 938-2069 

Willing Wisdom 

Quotes From the Show: 

“Estate planning isn’t just about answering the question ‘Who gets my stuff when I’m dead?’ There’s a whole part of estate planning that’s very much about the living.” 

“A will is like an MRI for a doctor – the will and a conversation about a will reveals everything.”

“Wealth has always been about family and family relationships.”

Tom provides a unique perspective from outside of the traditional financial planning industry at how advisors can grow into an untraditional niche. His many successes in publicizing the issues facing intergenerational wealth position him to provide insight to all advisors on how they can grow their business by opening discussions on estate planning with their clients.

Below, we will be discussing three key ideas from today’s episode: 

  • The Biggest Problem Facing the Transfer of Intergenerational Wealth 
  • What Successful Advisors Are Doing Right With Estate Planning
  • How to Use Estate Planning Software as a Sales Funnel

To listen to the full episode, use the audio player at the top of this page, or find us on iTunes or Stitcher.

The Biggest Problem Facing the Transfer of Intergenerational Wealth 

In Canada today, many advisors are seeing more and more clients that are a part of the first generation in their family that faces dying before they can spend all of the money they have earned. As people accumulate wealth that has the potential to be intergenerational, one problem stands out amongst the rest: 12.5 million Canadians do not have legal wills as a part of their estate plan. 

It isn’t just low-income Canadians who are missing this key component of their financial plan; high net-worth individuals are coming up short too, putting their family’s wellbeing at risk once they pass away. If a person dies without a will, their province will use a unique formula to distribute their assets to their surviving relatives. Even if the family wishes to divide the property according to provincial law – which is rarely the case, having a will in place will reduce delays and expenses. If not having a will has such a negative impact on the ones closest to them, why do so many people not have one?

Why are Canadians Not Making Wills?

There are a few different reasons Tom provides to answer this question. The first is that many estate planning professionals have abandoned the practice of writing wills for more lucrative alternatives. With DIY will writing kits becoming more popular and more affordable, many lawyers have abandoned will writing for estate litigation. 

Not only is it harder and harder to find a will writing professional, but many people have superstitions around writing a will, finding the topic too morbid to discuss. With several first-generation clients not seeing their parents set an example by writing a will, it is left off of their list of priorities as well. 

For financial advisors, this leaves a corner of the market wide open for them. With nearly a third of Canadians not having a will, and the majority of people who do having less than perfect ones, financial planners are set up to take advantage of the market. As Tom puts it, “What is a more valuable role for an advisor to add value to a client relationship in than an area that every other professional has largely walked away from?”

Hint: Interested in learning more about intergenerational wealth transfers? Check out Episode 47 with Cindy Radu, where we discuss how to increase the odds of successfully transitioning wealth. 

What Successful Advisors are Doing Right with Estate Planning

If you are a financial advisor considering adding estate planning to your services, you may be wondering how to approach it. Tom points to the successes of American and European advisors in the space who have one thing in common: they have positioned themselves to be central to an entire family’s success. 

The main way to do this is to organize quarterly or yearly family meetings that cultivate a more formal approach to familial wealth preservation. Many people shy away from having these necessary financial discussions out of the fear of it causing family rifts. When an advisor acts as a facilitator for these discussions, resourcing solutions to the issues brought up and delivering them in these meetings, they become much more than a financial planner. They are set up to become a central part of the family’s financial success for generations to come. 

Tom points out that if an advisor is not offering this service, it is highly likely that their competitors are. In many cases, older clients are not as concerned with the amount of money an advisor has generated for them as they are knowing how they will be taken care of as they age. Offering this service could mean the difference between a client choosing your firm over your competition’s. 

The other main piece of advice Tom offers advisors is to make sure they have their own will locked down. If a financial planner does not have a will of their own, how can they successfully advise their clients on how to structure one? Tom suggests going over your own will and taking note of the questions that come up naturally for you. Who will care for you if you become incapacitated? How will your assets be divided amongst your children once you die? These are the same questions you can assist your clients with to form a long-term relationship. 

How to Use Estate Planning Software as a Sales Funnel 

Tom’s estate planning software, The Willing Wisdom Index, gives advisors the unique opportunity to simultaneously get automated data about an individual’s existing estate plan and to use it as a sales tool to lock down a potential client. 

The software works by creating an email that a financial planner can send out to a potential client or post on their social media channels. The prospect will then complete the questionnaire attached to the email, which will populate a robust report on the state of their estate plan. The report includes a general score out of 100, information on how their estate plan measures up to their peers, and a list of key areas they need to improve on. 

With this report, advisors have their foot in the door to suggest their assistance in closing the gaps in a person’s estate plan. By opening up a conversation about the topic using this software, the advisors are able to capitalize on this market that has been left open by other professionals.   

Hint: Interested in this software? Email Tom at [email protected] for a free demo and to get more information.

To learn more about how Tom got into the industry, how his books gained popularity, and the trends he sees emerging from the current pandemic, listen to the full episode. You can check it out at the top of the page, or subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher to ensure you never miss an episode. 

059: How to Create a Value-Based Portfolio that Performs Well

How to Create a Value-Based Portfolio that Performs Well

Is it possible to make investments and get good returns while investing in assets that reflect your values? Today’s guest says that it is. Tim Nash is the founder of Good Investing, an investment planning firm with a focus on sustainable investing. 

Tim’s blog The Sustainable Economist has inspired thousands of Canadians to invest according to their values with model portfolios to reflect different definitions of sustainable investing. Tim writes a bi-weekly column for The Toronto Star and is regularly featured in publications such as CBC’s The National, BNN Bloomberg’s Market Call, and the Globe and Mail. Listen to the episode to hear what Tim has to say about what’s involved in sustainable investing, what kinds of returns can be expected from those investments, and how Tim approaches helping his clients invest in a way that reflects their values.

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • What Tim and his firm do (1:09)
  • How Tim got into his niche of the industry (3:22)
  • Terms of Socially Responsible Investing (8:50)
  • Where socially responsible investing is in terms of returns (14:20)
  • Tim’s approach to advising and serving clients (20:00)
  • Tim’s sliding scale (24:45)
  • Tim’s advice for investors (46:19) 

Links and Resources: 

Good Investing

The Sustainable Economist

Quotes From the Show: 

“The number one indicator that is most correlated to financial outperformance is gender diversity on the Board of Directors.” 

“You don’t need to sacrifice financial performance. You can do at least just as well, and most socially responsible funds have outperformed by a little bit.” 

“I very much believe in price discrimination- that some people can afford a higher price, and some people can afford a lower price.”

From his unique business approach to his success in the sustainable investing niche, Tim Nash offers insights backed by years operating in the industry. Advisors at any career stage can benefit from learning from his expertise, along with hearing about the potential performance implications of cultivating a sustainable client portfolio.

Below, we will be discussing three key ideas from today’s episode: 

  • How Tim Breaks Down Sustainable Investing 
  • Expected Returns in Sustainable Investing
  • How Tim Structures his Business to Serve People from All Walks of Life 

To listen to the full episode, find us on iTunes or Stitcher, or listen with the link at the top of this page. 

How Tim Breaks Down Sustainable Investing 

To discuss the core of Tim’s business, we must first establish what sustainable investing really is. He breaks it down into two different groups: “Doing less evil” and “Doing more good”. 

Doing Less Evil 

The most common route to socially responsible investing (SRI) that Tim’s clients take is what he refers to as the “doing less evil” route. This style of investing still uses a typical approach: you are investing in large companies with the goal of getting market-rate returns. However, the companies that the client is investing in are vetted according to their values in order to get rid of the least sustainable companies, making sure that their money is being invested using a value-based system. 

The beginning of this model relied heavily on negative screening, which focused on excluding specific industries that the client did not want to invest in. A common example of this is a client not wanting to invest in any fossil fuel company. 

The model evolved further into relying on ESG analysis, which stands for environmental, social, and government research and analysis. This model evaluates companies based on those key factors to determine if they are acceptable for inclusion in a sustainable investing portfolio.

For example, if a company contributes to pollution with the way they create their products or has a large carbon emission problem, they would fail the environmental analysis. If a company has poor labor standards or lacks diversity on its board of directors, it would not be up to par on its social analysis. If the company spends a lot on political lobbying, it may not qualify for sustainable investing due to the government analysis. 

Combining ESG analysis with participation such as shareholder engagement including voting on shares to push the companies toward more sustainable initiatives is what makes up the “doing less evil” model today. 

Doing More Good 

For those that are extremely committed to sustainable investing, they may opt for the “doing more good” model. This is based less on the traditional goals of financial returns, and more on the intention of investing for the greater good. 

Also referred to as impact investing, this model typically contributes to the private side, relying on things such as microfinance, green bonds, community bonds, etc. The investments are usually hyperlocal, impact-focused, and do not put much emphasis on the individual’s financial gains.

Hint: If you want to learn more about value-based investments, check out Episode 39 with Ryan Fraser, where we discuss his approach to charitable giving.

Expected Returns in Sustainable Investing 

For potential clients interested in sustainable investing, the main question on their minds is whether or not they would be sacrificing returns in their portfolio by using a socially responsible contribution model. While Tim admits there is no way to predict the future with complete certainty, over the past ten years companies who have good ESG have outperformed those who don’t.

Tim’s clients have experienced high returns on their investments, largely due to major players with poor ESG falling out of popularity in the last 5 years. “My portfolios have done very, very well over the last 5-10 years… a large part of this is due to the fact that we are underweight or zero weight in fossil fuels.” 

Even if the energy sector does bounce back causing underperformance, Tim predicts that we will see climate change become more of a common issue, which may favor sustainable investment portfolios. He also notes that since many social funds are overweight in technology and healthcare, they are set up for success in the post-COVID world. 

Although there is no definitive answer to how the space will shape up in the future as sustainable investing becomes more and more mainstream, Tim’s clients typically do not have to sacrifice any returns at all, and oftentimes they can expect to slightly outperform traditional portfolios.

Hint: Want to hear more from Tim on the debate around sustainable investment returns? Check out his appearance on Ben Felix’s podcast, where they discuss the economic impacts of SRI in detail.

How Tim Structures his Business to Serve People from All Walks of Life

Tim’s investment planning and coaching business is designed to allow him to serve all Canadians, no matter how large of an investment they can make. He does this with his in-depth investment coaching and education plan, as well as charging an hourly fee based on a sliding scale.

At Tim’s practice, the goal is to educate a client to the point that they are comfortable investing on their own, setting them up for long-term independence and success. The first step is to teach his clients about the space, walking them through the complexities of financial planning so that they are confident in making decisions for their own portfolio. 

Next, he works with them to determine where they are on the spectrum of sustainable investing – whether they want to “do less evil” or “do more good”. Once that is established, he coaches them through their options in the sustainable space, explaining the tradeoffs in the industry and empowering them to choose an approach that fits them best.

In the end, they have built their own portfolio based on the values they find most important, and Tim walks them through their first time investing. This unique approach is designed to alleviate the anxiety and fear around first time investing, allowing his clients to have long-term results thanks to him equipping them with confidence to make their own future investment decisions. 

In order to ensure that no one is unable to work with him due to cost, he created a pay scale that charges an hourly rate that is based on how much money the client has to invest. This way, he is able to serve clients who would normally have to make these decisions on their own, while still allowing him to profit off of his expertise. 

Listen to the full episode to hear about how Tim got into the sustainable investment niche, how he is expanding his business, and the biggest obstacles he has overcome while running his own practice. You can check out the episode at the top of this page, or subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher to make sure you never miss an episode.

058: How to Build a Successful Practice by Swimming Against the Tide

How to Build a Successful Practice by Swimming Against the Tide

Sometimes, you may encounter an idea or opportunity that hasn’t yet been adopted by the mainstream, but you just know that it makes sense. Having the vision to know when something makes sense for your practice or your clients even though it isn’t yet mainstream in your field is a quality that can separate the average advisors from the exceptional ones. Today’s guest – an early adopter of ETFs – has insights to share about the importance of knowing when to swim against the tide. 

Keith Matthews is a Partner and Portfolio Manager at Tulett, Matthews & Associates. He has an MBA from the Richard Ivey School of Business and is a Chartered Investment Manager. For close to 25 years, Keith has been working with his clients to deliver leading-edge wealth management strategies to help his clients reach their long-term goals. Listen to the episode to hear Keith talk about why he decided to become an advisor, what attracted Keith to ETFs in the early days, and how clients respond to Keith’s book, The Empowered Investor.

Topics Discussed in This Episode: 

  • Why Keith decided to become an advisor (3:22)
  • What attracted Keith to ETFs early on (5:57)
  • How Keith approaches advising and serving his clients (12:08)
  • Why doing taxes for clients gives you an edge (15:53)
  • The role of Keith’s book in the client acquisition process (21:17)
  • How Keith leverages software at his practice (32:11)
  • Advice for new advisors (40:11)

Links and Resources: 

Tulett, Matthews & Associates

The Empowered Investor

Quotes From the Show: 

“All of the early advisors that were doing this knew it made sense, knew it was the right thing, knew it was very friendly for clients.” 

“The idea of at least understanding tax sensitivities is huge for an advisor, and it’s a huge value-add for clients.” 

“If a client buys into all the following things and wants to have the sort of comprehensive approach that we’re dealing with, wants to be engaged, is serious, wants to see themselves reach their goals, and subscribes to the investment approach, then I think we’ve got a really nice connection.”

With an expansive career in the industry, Keith has become an expert on ETFs and passively managed strategies. His knowledge and experience can help you evaluate your processes, no matter what career stage you are in. 

Below, we’re discussing three key ideas from today’s episode: 

  • How Keith Pioneered the use of ETFs 
  • How to Set Up Clients for Success with a Thorough Onboarding Process
  • Keith’s Advice for New Advisors

To listen to the full episode, use the link at the top of this page, or find us on iTunes or Stitcher.

How Keith Pioneered the use of ETFs 

When Keith began his career in the financial services industry, he worked in a bond trading position at the institutional level. As he began to understand the way financial performance was being measured, he realized that there were a lot of institutional firms that were not performing at the level they boasted. 

It is then when he started thinking about serving individual investors by delivering wealth management services and building portfolios using asset allocation strategies and attaching those strategies to underlying ETFs. When Keith began this practice in the 1990s, he was swimming against the tide- going against other firms marketing different approaches as the “secret” to successful long-term investing. 

Keith continued pursuing this new approach because it made sense for both the advisor and the client. The business model allowed the advisors to have the time to focus on the things that their clients cared about the most: Do I have enough money to retire? How can I optimize my taxes? Are we on track to meet our financial goals?

By pioneering a model that put client needs first, he was able to build a successful practice and implement an approach that has since grown in popularity. 

Hint: Want to learn more? Check out Keith’s book, The Empowered Investor, which outlines 8 key investing principles in a way that anyone can understand.

How to Set Up Clients for Success with a Thorough Onboarding Process

When it comes to serving clients, Keith starts the relationship with a strong onboarding process that allows the advisors and the clients to get to know one another. 

They begin with a discovery meeting, which can last up to an hour and a half, where there is no presenting from the firm – only listening to what the clients have to say. They learn who the clients are, what their goals are, and what they wish to accomplish by working with a wealth planning team. At the end of the meeting, they do a deep dive into the client’s financials to understand where they’re at at. 

If both parties feel like the fit is good, then they move on to a proposal meeting, in which Keith and his team inform the prospective client on how the firm operates and what investment approaches they take. 

As a result of this comprehensive process, Keith is able to work with clients that are serious about the process and that want to be engaged in it. An educated client will get more out of financial planning services because of their level of involvement, their accurate understanding of expected returns, and the trust that is built with their financial advisor. 

Hint: Interested in learning more about the importance of client education? Check out Episode 54 with Sasha Djurdjevic, where we discuss how he approaches educating his clients.

Keith’s Advice for New Advisors

After 25 years in the industry, Keith has one key piece of advice for aspiring financial advisors: to find the services that you love and put a lot of energy into those strategies. The more passionate you are about the way you are investing, the more likely it is that you will find success with clients. 

For young advisors fresh out of college, Keith recommends joining a firm and finding a philosophy that you identify with. There are many opportunities at firms for those that work hard, and they are a good place to begin your career. 

For more seasoned adults looking for a career change, whether they take an entrepreneurial route or join an existing team, as long as they find an approach that fits and put client needs first, they will be set up for success.

Listen to the full episode to hear how Keith utilizes financial planning software at his practice, and how his clients and colleagues have responded to his book. You can listen to the episode at the top of this page, or you can subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher to make sure you never miss an episode. 

057: How to Use Financial Storytelling to Help Non-Traditional Clients

How to Use Financial Storytelling to Help Non-Traditional Clients

People in different fields and with different types of learning styles think about finances in different ways. There is more than one right way to talk about finances and financial planning – the trick is finding the language that works for you and the language that can best speak to your segment of clients. And that’s what today’s guest is here to talk about.

Chris Enns is not just a financial planner – he’s also an opera singer. Over the last 10 years as a performing artist, he’s learned the hard way that ignoring money doesn’t really work. That’s why he founded Rags to Reasonable – an advice-only financial planning & money coaching firm that specializes in working with creatives and people with other non-traditional financial situations. Listen to today’s conversation to hear what Chris has to say about non-traditional financial planning, Chris’s biggest challenges and successes, and what it’s like to speak a different kind of financial language. 

Topics Discussed in This Episode:

  • Who Chris’s firm usually serves (8:48)
  • Chris’s strategies for coaching and planning (14:30)
  • What happens after clients improve their financial stability (19:50)
  • Using different financial language for different kinds of people (28:55)
  • What things Chris believes have contributed to his success (31:37)
  • The biggest challenges Chris is facing (35:37)
  • Chris’s advice for financial planners (49:53)

Links and Resources: 

Rags to Reasonable

Quotes by Chris: 

“The truth is, the things that make people great artists, and really good at their craft, are the exact things that are going to make them good at their finances.”

“I think that one of the things we need to think about more in the financial space is that the answer cannot be that we talk about money in one way.”

“I have never had a real job in my life – I’ve worked for myself my entire life.”

Chris is using his performative background to portray a new type of story – a story of financial success for his clients. By helping his fellow artists rethink their ability to handle money, he has found success in the niche he has created to help those with unique financial situations. His experience in growing his advisory practice teaches businesses both young and old that customizing a client’s experience and solidifying a client/planner relationship is the key to maintaining success.

Below, we’re sharing three key ideas from this episode: 

  • How to work with variable income clients
  • How mentorship and financial independence helped Chris start his practice
  • How to use relationship building as a client acquisition tactic in times of market instability

To listen to the rest of the episode, click the link at the top of this post, or find us on iTunes or Stitcher.

How to work with variable income clients

Before Chris became a professional advisor, he saw the need in the arts community for a specialized approach to financial planning. When he transitioned into running his fully online financial advisory practice, he wanted to meet the demand he saw during his own arts career. It was natural that his client base would be made up of sole proprietors and small businesses, almost all of whom had variable income. 

Clients with variable income often struggle with common financial questions like how to save money, pay off debt, or plan for retirement when their cash flow is so irregular. They are also often younger and less versed in the financial planning world than other advisory clients, making it important for Chris to listen carefully to their background before jumping in with a plan. 

His solution? To build a plan that can transition into a lifelong technique, knowing that not everyone can fit into the same system. 

Crafting a repeatable, customized plan 

The first step Chris takes with a new client is to get to know them and make sure that his services are a perfect fit. If not, he takes the time to send them in a direction that will help their financial needs. If he feels he can provide value to the prospective client, he creates a custom proposal based on their exact needs. This ensures that each unique financial situation is taken care of in the way that best fits their situation, rather than forcing a general approach on them. 

When Chris is coaching clients with variable incomes, he uses their time together to craft a set of steps that can be worked over and over again, allowing the result to become more than a one time financial plan. As he says, “It’s more teaching the person to fish, rather than handing them a basket of fish.”

Hint: It may seem like a lot of extra work to start from the ground up for each client rather than use a standardized system. Try creating a customized quoting system like Chris uses to make sure that your extra effort is reflected in what you are paid.

How mentorship and financial independence helped Chris start his practice

Even though Chris’s practice is relatively new, he has been very successful at producing early growth. He attributes his success to two key components: mentorship and financial independence. 

Since Chris had an untraditional pathway into the business, having mentors allowed him to see what his own path could look like in the field. Especially for young businesses starting their practice, he recommends finding experienced planners to learn from, which will help them wrap their minds around the complexities of the industry. 

Hint: Want to learn more from some of Chris’s mentors? Check out Episode 9 with Julia Chung and Sandi Martin from Spring Financial Planning.

The second thing that helped Chris through his early years in financial advising was his ability to not rush to monetize his business. He dipped his toe into the field by writing a blog, which eventually led him to further opportunities to expand and create the business he runs today. 

Because it was his side gig and he was fully supporting himself with his operatic career, he did not have to take on non-ideal clients. This has helped him continue to work with the people that are the best fit for his practice, as the more ideal clients he works with, the more ideal clients he gets referred to him. 

How to use relationship building as a client acquisition tactic in times of market instability

One of the biggest challenges Chris is facing right now is pivoting his practice to be more accessible during the pandemic. With many of his clients facing an extended time period of not being able to find work in their native fields, he is having to solve new financial problems. Even with emergency funds, many of his arts industry clients will be forced to take on different jobs to make ends meet. 

The new opportunity that Chris sees is making his services more affordable, so that he can continue to work with his clients. He is working to create different ways to serve them, whether that be through shorter sessions, a smaller budget, or through his free office hours offered on his website. 

While this is allowing Chris to help his clientele when they need it the most, it is also a good business move. By taking the time to continue to build relationships even when there is no profit to be made, his investment into people will create more business when their financial lives are back to normal. Chris anticipates that once we are on the other side of this crisis, the demand for financial planning will be larger than ever. 

To learn more about Chris’s unique journey to the industry, how he uses workshops to attract new clients, and how he wants to enlist artists to create financial art, listen to the full podcast by hitting the link at the top of this page. Make sure to subscribe on iTunes or Stitcher so that you never miss an episode.