When the definitive history of the financial planning profession is written, I hope it includes a treatment of its most charming and distinctive trait: the willingness of its members to share their wisdom with each other. I’ve been the recipient of that wisdom more often than I can count, most recently at the FPA annual conference in late September and the Junxure Advisor Conference in early October.
“We got into this profession to help others,” Greg Friedman of Junxure and Private Ocean said in a throwaway line in the opening session at his firm’s conference, which served as prelude to his contention that “most advisors are not good businesspeople.” Some of the speakers who followed slightly misquoted Friedman, challenging the notion that “advisors are not good entrepreneurs.” No, Friedman would counter, advisors are great at starting enterprises, but at some point you have to introduce real business discipline in the firms you start. Such discipline can keep you from failing, but it’s perhaps more important in helping you succeed as you grow beyond the startup phase.
A couple of weeks earlier at the FPA annual conference, Friedman spoke during a roundtable discussing the real-life M&A experience of four highly successful advisors who have applied that business discipline. They discussed how they structured their mergers, how they are bringing younger advisors into ownership and how they got consulting and financing help for both processes. They also recounted the mistakes they made and were generous in complimenting their peers on the panel who had made smarter moves.
Then, at Junxure, two other advisors of note shared their successes and their failures. Deena Katz began her keynote by saying she was starting her 40th year in the business before she went on to talk about not succession planning or retirement but social media. At a stage in her career where you might think she could kick back and relax, she’s still teaching her peers — and the next generation of advisors at Texas Tech. True to form, she didn’t simply list “Five Steps to Be Successful in Social Media,” but started by suggesting to her listeners that before they build a social media plan they should know what it is they’re trying to accomplish, and realize that they can’t be successful by sending out an occasional Tweet.