Issues that effect building a company and it’s executives.

RIAs: What’s Your Business Model Look Like?

orghartAdvisors are often running a practice that is quite different from the type of practice they went independent to run.  Their business model is often one reasons they end up frustrated and feeling overwhelmed.

Working on (or towards) the “right” business model is extremely important — and something to decide upon before improving a firm’s operations and marketing.

Since I work with clients on developing their ideal practices, the subject of business models comes up very early as we work together.

In September I’ll complete a report that includes samples of the various types of advisory business models along with organizations charges.   Below I’ve listed a few types of models I’ll include.

I can use your help.

You Game?

2 QUESTIONS for RIAs & Advisors to Answer

1.  Is the way you operate your firm noted below?  If not, can you let me know more about your business model?

2.  If you changed your business model, what model did you previous have.  Why did you change models?   Which model do you have now?


If you’d prefer to tell me privately, email me at linkedin @ ElevatingYourBusiness . com  — just remove all the spaces.  Otherwise you can tell me in the comment area.  Feel free to also leave the name of your firm and your website URL too.   This way if I have any questions I can easily contact you.

I am looking forward to your expertise in this area!

Solo Business With Office
Owner-Advisor.  May have a very small team, hired on a low budget, often first hires are family members.   First 3-5 years usually involves an excessive amount of training and turnover.  Owner is involved in both production and management of staff.  At exit time, the only book of business to sell is that of the owner.  Some advisors would like to purchase a turn-key solo practice while others want to have their own hires.

Solo Business With Virtual Office
Same as above, but with a fully virtual office.

Solo PLUS Business
Owner-Advisor plus multiple other independent-advisors who retain existing clients and share in the overhead expenses of the office, technology, support staff, operations costs, etc.  Owner advisor is involved in production, bringing in new advisors and the management of staff. When everyone has their own book, the only book the owner has to sell at exit time, is that of the owner-advisor.  There  an office (or offices).  Can also be virtual offices.  New owner-advisor may want a ready made office with independent advisors, other buyers may not.

Ensemble Business
Owner-advisor plus associates and junior team members who share clients that belong to the firm.  As time goes on, a Sales Manger is brought in.  An Office Manager is hired who also has excellent people skills and who over time will also manages staff.  Clients get accustomed from the get-go of working with the team, not just one Advisor. For sale at exit is the firms’ book of business, office space and team — a turn key company.

Thank you in advance for your insights.

Business Quote for June 29, 2015

I’m Excited to be Featured in Today’s Woman’s Advantage Calendar!

My advice was selected from over 5,000 quotes submitted, for today’s page of the calendar. This is the fifth year in a row that one of my quotes has been published! Enjoy the calendar page with the quote….

Womens Advantage Calendar 2015 June 29

For additional information about The 2015 Woman’s Advantage Calendar visit

Advisors: Say No & Set Boundaries for Freebie Seekers

Establishing where free ends and fee begins can be challenging, difficult and even nerve racking! However, learning the art of declining gracefully, when that’s really what you want to do, is an essential skill that helps you focus on what’s important in your practice.

“So, you’re a financial advisor…have any hot stock tips? What should I be buying? Can I take you out for coffee, pick your brain, and get your opinion on my portfolio?”

Sad but true, you’re probably shaking your head, rolling your eyes, or chuckling knowingly to yourself. If you only had a nickel for every time someone asked you for free, off-the-cuff advice, right? But be honest — how often do you set aside your reluctance, give in to a sense of obligation and actually answer the questions?

Even though I haven’t been a Wall Street trader for many years, the questions about tips never stop coming. As a business coach to advisors and planners, at least twice a week I’m asked out for a cup of coffee because the person wants to pick my brain. My standard answer is: “That will be a cup of coffee — in Italy, please.”

Take heart — you’re not alone. As long as you’re in the financial arena, own a service or work at a business that is in a service industry, you’re going to be asked to work for free. 

Financial professionals endure a specific set of boundary-crossing issues. Timothy Yee, a corporate/non-profit retirement planner from Green Retirement Plans Inc., says this about the people I call “freebie seekers”: “It is amusing to be asked if they can buy a no-sales- charge/ultra-low-expense fund through me and not pay me for my time. I can’t imagine the same person going to a doctor and asking to fix a broken leg for free. Why has financial planning allowed itself to be turned into a commodity?”

Why indeed. And these requests don’t always come just from friends but from current clients. I’ve known advisors to take on the extra-mile tasks of mediating family feuds, buying cars, researching colleges, and selling homes for their clients — all for free! While these may be extreme examples, it is the everyday, “innocent” requests that rob you of big chunks of time.

Please note, I’m not saying you must never provide free information or services to prospects and clients. Setting professional boundaries means striking a balance between everything you could provide for free and what you’re in business to do — and charge for.

Free vs. fee

It’s difficult to say no to people because we don’t want to disappoint them. We choose careers in the financial industry not just to make money (as much of the media claims), but to help others. We want our clients to achieve their business, personal, family and retirement goals. We want to provide impeccable customer service, too. But at times, our own fear of rejection keeps us from rejecting others’ requests. Wouldn’t it be great if saying yes guaranteed that we’d get a yes in return when we want to manage more assets? Alas, we know this isn’t always the case. See: 10 indispensable questions for advisors to ask — and 10 to answer — at networking events.

Saying no might feel selfish or violate your definition of good service; however, neglecting to set professional boundaries will hurt your ability to help the people who will benefit from your services the most. Creating clear boundaries between “free” and “fee” gives you more time to attract and work with your ideal clients.

Relationships with prospects start when you invite them into your company’s marketing funnel with an offer of free and helpful information: informational brochures, a book list, an audio you’ve produced, or referrals to other advisors who can better assist prospects who aren’t the best fit for your firm.

Paula Harris, co-founder of WH Cornerstone Investments LLC, a fee-only firm, described an incident where a family with no active contract declined a meeting when they heard their personalized consultation would not be free. She concluded, “It told us all we needed to know — they were not relationship-oriented and not a fit for our firm.”

Your ideal “AAA” client makes a financial obligation, but also an internal commitment. He or she has decided to transition from stranger to prospect to client because you’ve built a relationship. Such clients have grown to know, like, and trust you and your firm. When you help them overcome obstacles or achieve goals, you serve them and everyone else who touches their lives. Spending most of your time with these clients not only yields the best results for them, but the most fulfillment for you. See: 10 reasons for advisors to just say no to less-than-ideal clients.

How to decline gracefully

Every year, during your planning week, it’s important to get your team together to review and redefine where “free” ends and “fee” begins. Of course, you want to create value for prospects. But remember, being in business means earning a profit, and it’s hard to be profitable when you’re giving away the store.

It’s helpful to create a message, in your own words, that you can retrieve whenever you have to say “no” to someone who has requested something outside your professional boundaries. Get comfortable with the wording of your “no” statement for when you must deliver it in person. Prepare a version for e-mail, to which you’ll make adjustments for individual situations. Regardless of delivery mode, always reply with respect, knowing you are serving yourself and others with integrity.

Here are some examples to get you started:

“Are you looking to hire a financial advisor? I’d love to talk to you about that. Our fee for an initial consultation is ____. “

“Yes, I do work with clients on [name the issue]. Would you like to set up a consultation? Our rate is ____.”

“Well, the answer to that question depends on many variables. Would you like to set up a time for a consultation? We charge a flat rate of ____.”

“A complete answer to your question is going to take more than a few minutes over the phone. Let’s set up a ____ on ____. Are you available? Our fee for this service is ____.”

“I have really enjoyed talking with you and would like to help more. May I send you one of my brochures — I’ll include our fees?”

“I can give you five minutes.” When the five minutes is up — and you should time it on your watch — say something like: “This is really something that we should spend more time on. When would you like to schedule a more in-depth consultation? Our fee is ____.”

Action steps

Look at where you’re expending a lot of time and energy because you aren’t saying “no” appropriately. These areas are leaking profits as well as time. List areas where boundary issues arise and calculate the cost to your firm. Do you want to continue saying “yes” when these issues arise? Can your assistant, manager or another advisor handle these client situations? If you’ve realized that having few boundaries is taking a bite out of your bottom line, create at least three “no” statements for your firm — and make them a consistent part of the way you conduct business. See: How a change in mindset and business structure can get you off the hamster wheel.

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Outsource HR to Protect & Grow Your Financial Firm

Most financial advisors delay the task of hiring employees because learning about HR processes such as hiring, training, retaining, or firing employees takes time away from working with clients.  Implementing HR correctly (and legally) involves learning about various state and federal labor laws in order to set up HR processes, employee forms, and manuals.


When you’re ready to grow your firm with the right people and HR is not one of your strengths as an advisor-owner, it’s best to hire a professional HR consultant.  The right HR person is worth their weight in gold; while they do their job, you can grow your practice and keep your sanity.  HR consultants focus on your hiring needs and protect your organization from employee lawsuits, which can average $75k-$250k per event.  Having a dedicated HR professional’s help ensures that your employees understand their job responsibilities, how they will be evaluated, and what rules to follow.


The Lindenberger Group is a HR consulting firm that collaborates with financial professionals and small business owners. Judith Lindenberger and her team will help your firm comply with the law, attract and retain talent, and give you the peace of mind you need to focus on building your business.  Call Judith at 609 730 1049 or learn more about her company’s HR services at









Advisors: It’s time you move out of your home office. Now what?

You’ve made the decision to move out of your home office or out of the cafe into a main-street office.  You’ll be expanding in the next 5 years, intend to hire an associate (or two), a full time receptionist/office manager, etc.

This is a real life situation many advisors go through.  Hiring a Realtor is a great idea.  However, if you don’t have a well thought out ideal office list, your Realtor is going to drive you ragged — and it’s your own fault.   (Hint: if you already have an assistant, etc. ask them to brainstorm with you, and your coach, of course, too.)


What is on your ideal office list?

What precautions are important to consider as you make this move? (things that maybe weren’t as important to a home office but will be to a local office)

What valuable information do you have to share with your colleagues who are just now ready to make this move?

What question(s) haven’t I asked that you’d add here!


Please note:  I’m in the process of writing a collaborate article — an article that is written by many people — in this case, financial advisors, planners, and other who work with advisors.   The title will be something like 10 Important Lessons To Learn Before You Move Out of Your Home Office (or something better that my marketing manger comes up with).

If you prefer that your comment or advice is not republished, please state so.

If you’d like to participate, please list your full name, website and twitter URL at the end of your comment.   I’ll email you the draft to approve before the article is published.