A long-time client who steadily guided his firm toward the $1 billion in client AUM saw growth slow substantially over the past year. I asked him, “What’s up?”
I generally have good relationships with my advisor clients and often am surprised when they open up about things that they wouldn’t tell other people.
In this case, the advisor said: “I haven’t told anyone this, not even my wife, but I am bored with my firm. I don’t want to work with clients, I have mastered portfolio management, I understand the principles of business management, bookkeeping and leading people, and I just don’t want to do it anymore.”
This owner’s experience is far from unique. In fact, it’s quite common for owner advisors to get bored with their “job” at some point and, at the same time, fear the consequences.
Here’s the basic problem: Independent advisory firms are hard to build. But once they reach a crucial mass of about $4 million in annual revenue or so, then their systems will (if done right) run themselves.
At about the same time, the firm owner usually is approaching his or her 20-year mark as a financial advisor and business owner, and the repetition of tasks is beginning to get old.
However, this doesn’t mean that all firm owners have to suffer through an advisory mid-life crisis. Owners who work at maintaining a high level of involvement with their business are usually able to avoid both the “boredom” and the “fear” zones.
Reframe Your Job
To stay involved, you have to look at your business in a new way. See it as a work in progress rather than as a finished product.
I’m not suggesting all advisory firms should work on “getting larger.” Building the right-sized business is one of the main keys to being happy in your work.