About two or three weeks ago, business began to increase substantially and it continued this week. That’s the good part. The challenge is to keep up with all of the additional activity required to process paperwork, track asset transfers, maintain contact with clients, and, oh yes, continue to market my services.

All of this, at least in my opinion, cannot possibly be accomplished by one individual. So, enter my faithful part-time assistant and wife, Kitty. She has been a tremendous help handling all of the “back office” stuff. She is working with me about two to three days a week and has proven to be invaluable. I learned a long time ago, that to grow, you need to have adequate staff.

Basically, there are two ways to do this. You can either borrow the money and hire the people or add staff as your income increases. I’m following the second path. I realize that means the growth may be a little slower, but it’s also less risky and doesn’t add debt to my balance sheet. So far, so good.

This week, I had an appointment with a prospective client who decided to move his accounts to me. One of the accounts happens to be a 529 plan with American Funds which was set up through a local broker as a 529 “A” plan. I discovered that they have an RIA version called a 529 “F” Plan. After a short phone call, I was set up in their system to offer this. They e-mailed the required forms to change the advisor of record and convert the shares to a different class. Now, I’m ready to meet with the client, sign the paperwork, and get this done. They were very helpful.

My journey with my new custodian, TradePMR, is progressing well. They are very willing to listen to their advisors. I really like that. If you have a good idea, they are eager to hear about it. I think listening to customers is a fundamental principle of every successful business. The problem is that after some time, and growth, businesses tend to stop listening, which leads to multiple inefficiencies. Perhaps they get too busy, or perhaps they adopt the attitude that the customer needs them more than they need the customer. When this happens, you can be sure that some other, more attentive company will enter the picture and capture market share. As an independent advisor, this is completely within our control.

Let us never forget, “The customer is still king!”