A few months ago, at the outset of the transition to the new office in the Prospect Neighborhood, we mentioned the phases of MY Wealth Planners’ development. As we closed up the end of the second phase and looked to the third phase, we stated that we would begin to confirm MY Wealth Planners’ value proposition for its clients and begin to focus on the systemization and consistent delivery of that value proposition. Today, I’m happy to share how that development has gone and where it will be taking us. So, let’s talk about what MY Wealth Planners is, where it’s going, and what that means for you.
It probably makes sense to explain something at the outset: MY Wealth Planners doesn’t need to grow. In the field of financial planners, small fee-only practice owners so often elect not to grow beyond their original set of clients and themselves that the term “lifestyle practice” is almost a ubiquitous and de facto default career path and decision for financial planners. However, I’m dissatisfied with this answer because while every lifestyle practice owner has a right to decide how to live their lives and grow (or not grow) their business, they are ultimately leaving it to the insurance salesmen and fund brokers to pick up the slack where the supply of competent financial planners stops, and the demand for financial guidance continues. This means we’re willingly putting ourselves above the public’s need for competent and fiduciary financial planning and advice and, in turn, leaving them to the avarice of those commission-based and rent-seeking “professionals.” Ultimately, growth is not just a business decision in my eyes; it’s a mandate.
Finding an Identity
I’ve been happy to share from time to time that MY Wealth Planners is the first and only fee-only financial planning firm run by a CFP® Professional in Longmont, CO. When that first became true in 2019, I didn’t think it was a competitive advantage that would last forever. Yet, just three years and 364 days ago, we filed our notice with the SEC and the State of Colorado that we would be going independent, and in the time since, no one has come out to compete. In fact, competition has declined in Longmont. When we went independent, there were 168 registered brokers and investment adviser representatives in town. Today, there are just 133, and of those 133, only 18 are CFP® Professionals. In fact, to this day, MY Wealth Planners remains the only locally founded and operated independent fee-only financial planning firm in Longmont.
In the book, “The Gap and the Gain” by Dan Sullivan, it’s pointed out that it can be much easier to measure your progress and advancement by looking backward than looking forward. While forward-looking goals can feel distant and out of reach, we’ve often advanced exponentially in the past, and by looking at our accomplishments, we can find that we’ve made enormous progress up to this point. When such exponential growth is considered, we find ourselves looking at future opportunities as much more attainable and likely more within our reach than we’d expected. With that in mind, when I look at just shy of four years of progress in MY Wealth Planners, I see a practice that launched as simply the work of a solo financial planner trying to do his best for his clients, to a practice on the cusp of beginning to grow into Longmont’s largest local firm. Not just the largest fee-only financial planning firm (it already holds that distinction at a mere two people), but the largest financial planning firm in Longmont, and by extension, it aims to be Longmont’s premiere financial planning firm.
Recognition of who we best serve
MY Wealth Planners today stands on the precipice of growing significantly. In fact, we intend to double our head count in the next ten months and likely again over the following year. As the practice grows from being an individual financial planner’s practice to a firm that supports many financial planners in helping their clients, the firm will need to grow and grow again to support that goal. This means being clearer about who we are, what we provide, and where that stands in the marketplace of service providers.
One of the great anchors of good intentions that I was given was imparted to me early on in my practice by a family member. “Never get so big that you’d turn anyone away who asks for your help.” I call this a great anchor of good intentions because though the wisdom has been a meaningful part of my practice as a financial planner, it can inadvertently blind us to helping people in the best way. Let me provide an analogy: If you knew someone needed a car, would you first send them to the Ferrari dealership? As Longmont’s fee-only firm, while we would love to serve every person who asks for our help, we’re in a better position today to say that we can most effectively serve the needs of three types of client: The business owner or the business’s executives, the Type A professional or professional couple, and the pre-retiree and retiree household. All three of these groups have complex needs that we are uniquely suited to serve in Longmont, and our time is best spent doing so. In turn, this means that we have become more effective in identifying when a potential client would not benefit optimally from the services we can offer and when we need to refer them out to a provider who more directly specializes in their particular needs.
In choosing to serve these three unique groups going forward, we are better positioned to tailor our services and communication to these clients, and in turn, better serve this segment of the Longmont population. That doesn’t mean if you’re not a good fit that, you should shy away; we are more than happy to help anyone from Longmont find the best professional to assist them in living their best financial life, whether that be us or another incredible financial planner.
From Identity and Recognition: Purpose
Recognizing who we are and who we best serve leads us to the question: How do we do that? While Dan has worked with several hundred clients in the past decade, today, we uniquely serve the needs of just over 150 households and small businesses. This represents close to the limit of Dan’s personal ability to serve more clients, and by extension, leads us to the need to grow MY Wealth Planners as mentioned before: We cannot be the premier provider of financial planning services if we don’t have the people to provide the service! As such, MY Wealth Planners aims to adopt an apprenticeship and development model of professional growth in which both financial planning students and career changers have the opportunity to enter the financial planning field in a learning environment where they can practice financial planning without the pressure of a sales role or the conflicts of interest that arise from the sale of investment and insurance products. In turn, this means that MY Wealth Planners will grow quickly to serve the increasing demand for competent and fiduciary financial planning services, and in its direct specialization toward the needs of the three core demographics it serves, it will do just that. In turn, we can help our community thrive financially and live our best financial lives and, as a result, make the world a bit better.
What’s in it for me?
Of course, I know you don’t read this blog just to hear about MY Wealth Planners and what we’re up to. The expansion of the practice in number of clients it serves and its number of financial planners means that we will be able to bring additional experience into the firm, such as experts in advanced tax planning, career coaching, business succession planning, and multi-generational estate planning, all with the purpose of assisting each and every client with the highest quality of financial planning service. This will become part of the normal fabric of MY Wealth Planners’ service model over the next several years, and will simply be an expansion of an already robust service model for both existing and future clients. We hope you’ll enjoy the journey with us as we grow to provide these services and improve the scope of how we help you live your best life.