Things get complicated
Being a financial advisor feels great. The work is rewarding; you feel worthwhile, productive, and essential.
But building a firm in addition to advisory work can feel like juggling two full-time jobs. The demands of your growing company start competing for your time and attention. The more your firm grows, the more time it takes (because “who else gon’ do it?) You become the “working-ON-the-business-not-IN-the-business” guy.
If you’re like me, pretty soon this can leave you feeling a little empty inside—like your identity as an advisor is being slowly stripped away.
And now you’ve got some difficult choices to make. Because if you’re any good, there’s always more people asking for help than you can service on your own. You could fill all your time advising clients until your plate was full and send regrets to the rest.
Or you could just raise your fees. Although then you’d become unaffordable to the very people who need your help.
So instead you choose to grow the firm to meet demand. You work on the business. And that means you spend less and less time personally engaging with clients.
You find now you’ve got to do things like create policies for time off, decide on employee benefits, and establish guidelines for social media, and dozens of other administrative details. Your earliest employees pine for the days when it was just a few of us playing Atari in the garage, eating takeout and dreaming about the future when the firm was bigger. Now that it is bigger, they question whether you’ve sold out and complain about all this corporate garbage.
Although sometimes I really do miss the simpler days, I’ve started to embrace how an organization can make a broader impact on our community’s financial health than any single advisor. As we specialize, innovate, and find operational efficiencies that help us scale, that influence only grows.
In a world where the top five companies in the S&P 500 index are making up 25 percent of its market cap, the market is likely telling us something. Operational efficiencies and cost controls are a part of scale. As financial advisors, we can’t say we want to earn an above-average living, and then spend 30 percent of our time doing routine tasks that computers could do much better than humans.
What’s the right call for you?
Don’t get too stressed. Just lean into the discomfort a little bit. Albert Einstein said, “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.”
I’ve found that to be true in my own life. I’m thankful to my team and my family who push me to step outside my comfort zone and embrace new challenges every day in the pursuit of my dreams.