Entrepreneurs Dave Dickinson and Delwin Holeman saw an unmet need in the marketplace: There are a lot of unhappy advisor-client relationships out there. So they decided to launch an advisor-firing business.
If that sounds like a sinister plot to the ears of advisors, think again. The beneficiaries of this business, in addition to disgruntled clients, are new advisors who are introduced to a prospect with both assets and a disposition to receiving financial advice.
Dickinson speaks with sympathy for the experience of an advisor, having spent decades managing a book of business. He started at Merrill Lynch for six years, followed by a stint with a regional firm, before a two-decade stretch in the RIA world.
Unhappy in the brokerage world’s “sales culture,” he found much more satisfaction as an RIA, and one of FireMyAdvisor’s principles is to only match fed-up investors with some kind of a fiduciary, be it an RIA or CFP.
But the unhappiness that may exist in a client relationship can go both ways, and there are many advisors who ignore or neglect some of their relationships as well. Perhaps they don’t click with the client or the client is unimportant economically.
Dickinson and Holeman initially thought: “Wouldn’t it be great to find a way to switch clients” between an advisor unhappy with his client and one that would be very happy with that same client?
Thus was born their contrarian approach to lead generation: Rather than seeking to attract clients interested in investment advice, FireMyAdvisor, which launched this week, is seeking to appeal to those investors with assets in hand who may not understand how they can divorce their advisor.
“If you were to poll investors, I’m taking a very educated guess that most people don’t know they can switch advisors by simply signing some paperwork,” Dickinson says. “They’re under the impression they need to talk with their financial advisor and have a confrontation.”
FireMyAdvisor’s plan is to attract investors to its site with an offer of a free guidebook on exiting a relationship they would rather not have, as well as an offer of help in finding a more suitable advisor.
The idea is to validate the feelings of these investors, essentially saying: “It’s okay to be in a bad relationship; it’s just bad to stay in bad relationship,” Dickinson says.
The duo — Dickinson is the one with experience as an advisor and is married to a compliance expert to boot, while Holeman produces advisor websites and has expertise in SEO and online marketing — is singling out women in particular for its dissatisfaction pitch.
“They’re one of the unhappiest groups; we have a bunch of studies that verify that,” Dickinson says, noting as an example of the experience of his wife, a native of Minnesota’s lake country.