Adam Werner, CFP®, CPWA®, is a wealth advisor and Vice President of EP Wealth Advisors. Over the course of his career, he’s developed a passion for helping his firm grow. He knew after the first few years in the profession that he was interested in pursuing partnership or part-ownership.

Adam started having conversations around partnership and new business development ideas with the partners of his firm. He presented strategies for opening a subsidiary financial planning practice that focused on working with a younger, Gen X and millennial, client group (an idea he developed while attending a NexGen conference).

He also had consistent conversations about succession planning – both for the current owner, and for himself and future partners. By showing how passionate about he was (and is!) about growing the firm, Adam was able to start conversations about potential partnership within the firm. His firm, originally Donnelly Wealth Advisors, worked with FP Transitions to develop a plan for changing their business to be open to partnership with both Adam and other future partners, as well.

Now a partner of EP Wealth Advisors, Adam is still working to grow the firm, bring new ideas to the table, and develop himself as a leader. In this episode, Adam covers the best ways to pursue leadership opportunities both inside and outside of the office, how to approach firm owners about ownership conversations, and what to expect when you become a partner.

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What You’ll Learn:

  • Why growing your own financial planning and leadership skills is critical
  • How to pursue leadership opportunities at work and within the profession
  • How your personal brand impacts ownership conversations
  • What to expect when becoming a partner
  • How to talk to owners about partnership, and what you can expect from those conversations
  • The importance of being open, honest, and respectful when pursuing partnership
  • How “buying in” to a company works – and what cost expectations are

 

Show Transcript

Episode Transcript


Ian: Hi everyone. We’re here today with Adam Werner, a wealth advisor, vice president and partner at EP Wealth Advisors. Adam, thanks for being here.

Adam: Yeah, thanks for having me Ian. Happy to be here.

Ian: Adam and I have known each other for a few years now and Adam’s story is great from a partnership track sort of discussion on making the decision to become partners or dealing with a merger in the early part of his career here and taking some opportunities throughout his career to grow, to become a leader within the firm and within the profession, and so we’re here to talk a little bit about that and understand your story, what you learned through the process and maybe what some folks can learn from you.

Adam: Sure.

Ian: I guess a good place to start might be… so can you tell us a little bit about how you got into financial planning, sort of the early days. What made you become a financial planner or how did you get started?

Adam: My story goes back to when I was 14 years old and when I was 14 years old, I was doing a bunch of chores around the house and my mom would pay me for the chores and I would paint the house and reshingle the roof and everything else, and I got to the end of one summer and I went to my mom and said, “Hey, I think you owe me 500 bucks.” And my mum said, “Oh yeah, well, why don’t you prove it? Write down all the things you did and then write down all the money you think I owe you for all these projects and then prove that I owe you 500.” Because she thought I was inflating it a bit and I couldn’t write everything down obviously, so then I thought I was cheat out of my mom’s laundry list of items I did throughout the summer.

Adam: From then on I started tracking all of my potential income on an Excel spreadsheet and all of my expenses and all of the things I was saving up for, and it was great because at the time I never felt broke even as a college kid or as a high school kid because I was always saving for everything that I had kind of planned to do. We wanted to go snowboarding, I had money saved up for that and I didn’t have to go borrow more money from mom and dad or ask for a couple extra bucks, and that carried with me all through college, and I always felt empowered because I knew how much money I had, I knew what I was saving for, and again, I never really felt broke necessarily although looking back I was probably pretty broke at the time, and then through college I just had a natural interest towards stocks and investing because I thought it was cool.

Adam: At a certain point in time I started to get some internships and then I ended up meeting Rich Donnelly and Brad Owen of Donnelly Wealth Advisors at a career fair, and we immediately clicked and got along really well, and so they picked me up as an intern and I started my internship in February 2009 so just as a stock market was bottoming and it was all pandemonium, I think in our industry by and large, but I thought it was fascinating.

Adam: I thought it was exciting what was going on with the market, although scary because it felt like the end of the world, but I also just really enjoyed over hearing the conversations that Rich and Brad were having with clients, and those conversations were so much more about their life and retirement and what’s important and all of that, and I thought that was just… I loved it, and talking to a lot of my peers at the time, you know, when you’re 21 years old and you’re comparing notes with the other college buddies. I had some other friends that were in larger financial institutions doing internships and their experience was so much different than my experience at a small wealth management firm, and I thought it was just so neat what we were doing.

Adam: We were doing all the investment stuff and all the research was really fun and interesting, but the relationship that these guys had with their clients and we’re building with their clients was so much more empowering than I think than just looking at the numbers all day, so I loved it, and then when I graduated San Diego State University, they brought me on full time and when I first started working for the firm, I mean at the time it was a small four person financial planning firm, and so being the 22 year old, you’re kind of a jack of all trades. I mean you’re the paperwork monkey when that needs to be done, you’re the marketing expert because you’re the youngest kid from college, you’re the researcher, you’re whatever needs to be done. You are that person.

Adam: I spent a couple of years just doing whatever needed to be done in the firm and learning a lot and being engaged in more and more client conversations, and then as the years passed, I got my CFP and more and more of my time was spent directly with clients working on their financial plans, eventually being in charge of more and more family relationships and client relationships, and then eventually bringing in more and more of my own clients as well, and then that just kind of evolved further and further to where you’re no longer really the paperwork monkey anymore, and then at a certain point too, we had a unique opportunity with our owner, Rich Donnelly of Donnelly Wealth Advisors.

Adam: He was always very adamant of, hey, let’s the grow the firm, let’s do what we want to do and do what we think is best for our clients and the firm, and he empowered me to essentially start my own little subsidiary firm within the firm, so I built out kind of the full idea, we called it GenVest Planning. It operated as its own company. It was still underneath the Donnelly RIA, all the account paperwork was still Donnelly, but we had our own website, own social media marketing campaigns and just the look and feel was very much towards the client who’s maybe 30 to 40 years old, they’re married, they have kids and they have some financial complexities and they want a bit more help, and that client… that kind of client profile was very different from the Donnelly client profile of maybe a successful business owner or a retiree.

Adam: We started GenVest Planning and I still spend a lot of time obviously with the Donnelly clients, but we focused a lot of energy on GenVest and built that up and then had some great success with that, and then over the course of a couple of years, we began to talk about a succession plan with Rich Donnelly. Both Brad Owen and I began to discuss that with him, and we were kind of in the thick of it and about to press go with our internal succession plan, and due to some internal strategic planning, we actually did made the decision to merge with a larger company, which is EP Wealth Advisors.

Adam: Through the course of that merge, we transitioned all our clients over and we’ll get into that a little bit here, but through the course of that merge, myself and Brad and Rich became partners of EP Wealth Advisors that we essentially stepped up into a larger firm. I got a lot more support from the larger firm and then still enabled the three of us essentially to have a succession plan ourselves. Now we’re a year into EP and it’s going great and-

Ian: And that’s where we are.

Adam: …that’s kind of the story of how I got here, that’s right.

Ian: Whole financial planning career boil down to eight minutes.

Adam: That great, man.

Ian: Out of curiosity, so you leave college, you’re interested in stocks and bonds and investing and you realize there’s more to this financial planning conversation than stocks and bonds.

Adam: Yeah.

Ian: When you first started, were you already thinking I’m going to be an owner one day or were you sort of thinking I just kind of want to be involved in this financial planning world and see what happens?

Adam: I was thinking at the time that ownership would be cool because I looked at Rich Donnelly who had built up this company and being a business owner, it means you get to make all the decisions yourself and you get to have the company car and you get to do some of these cool things and pay off some of your trips from time to time, if you’re going someplace for a conference, and so I thought that, that sounded really, really cool. I didn’t really maybe appreciate at the time that being an owner also means that you… in a small firm instance, you have to make all the decisions, right, so it’s you who stays home maybe on the weekend to figure out payroll and you’re the one who if there’s a client issue on a weekend you have to pick up that phone call and deal with it.

Adam: I didn’t maybe comprehend that, I just thought being an owner was a cool lofty goal to have. I will say that maybe about five years in working with the firm there was kind of a switch maybe in my mental state as well as with Rich and Brad, I think, just for myself, I was becoming much more of a proactive contributing member of the team and always trying to help make the office run better, make sure that our processes were as efficient as they could be, making sure that our clients experience was as good as it could be, making sure that we’re doing really good financial planning and tax laws and things are always changing so you have to stay contemporary.

Adam: It was kind of during that shift that I recognized, oh, being an owner is not only having the ability to run the company and say that you’re an owner, but it also means that you are the one that’s deciding how to run the company, and you’re making those strategic decisions, and it is on your plate to make sure that this firm continues to grow and be prosperous and have new clients, and have a great client experience, so that was when the shift I think began to occur at some point in my mind.

Ian: There’s two perspectives when we think about growing in a firm period almost, and then growing to the partnership level. From a technical perspective, how did you demonstrate sort of your growth as you were approaching, hey I want to think about becoming a partner?

Adam: If you’re going to become an owner at some point within your firm, if your path to ownership is by being a financial planner and contributing to the firm as a financial planner, and then I think step one is to be a really good financial planner, and so one of the things you can do is obviously get your CFP. I would encourage people not to stop at your CFP, look at some other credentials that may be further your knowledge in certain categories that you’re interested in. I know for myself, I got my Certified Private Wealth Advisor which is… also delves into how to deal with ultra high net worth individuals and high net worth individuals, so it’s kind of a CFP on steroids bit, but beyond that, I mean I know for myself, I knew that as a 22, 23 year old kid, I’m not going to win over a client because I have a gray hair, and because I’ve seen it all.

Adam: That’s not going to happen. As a 22 year old kid, I’m going to have maybe one of our clients because I have the technical expertise in the tax code and just with financial planning topics, there’s retirement distribution plans, their stock options, whatever it is. I have to be an expert at that.

Ian: You know, 22, 23 years old and you’re working through your career, so you start to build this technical skill, right, you can do the math, you understand how the financial system sort of work for your clients, so then the question becomes what else is there, right, and since you’ve left this world of just stocks and investing and you’re in the relationship side of financial planning, there’s also the soft skill learning curve, right, and so how were you able to demonstrate that to your eventual partners?

Adam: The soft side of the learning curve I think is one on the side of being able to listen and talk to your clients and to hear what they’re having to say, and it’d be a good financial planner from that perspective to build up those skills. To be honest, I practiced on my friends quite a bit. I brought my friends in as clients and honestly just practice having those maybe more difficult, thoughtful conversations with them and then try to get some feedback. I joined as many FPA programs as I could and went to as many conferences as I could to build up that knowledge base. I had a study group for a long time where we met on a regular basis and talked about case studies and then practice back and forth. One of the things I did as well is I took a Dale Carnegie course, kind of their general I think, eight week long business class, which was really empowering just to learn how to speak to others and how to listen to others as well.

Adam: There’s that side of it of the clients and being just a good financial planner, and then the other side of it I think too is also learning how to work well with others and empower the rest of your team, because when you become an owner, the success of the firm is your success, and so you have to be able to talk to your team members, both your peers and the folks who are supporting you. Be able to talk to them, understand any issues that they have and really listen to their ideas, and really empower them to come to you with ideas or to empower them to come to you when there’s problems.

Adam: For myself, I was always a big advocate within our firm of, I’m trying to do mentoring, so everyone in our office for quite a while had essentially a mentor, someone who would you’d meet with on a regular basis. Something else that we started in our firm, we stole from Marty Kurtz, the talking stick, so we do talking stick once a month where we all sit around the circle and share our feelings and our thoughts about how things are going, and that’s an idea that I brought from NexGen gathering a few years back, and so being able to empower your peers and work well with your peers, I think is very much important when it comes to impressing upon the owners that, hey, I know what it takes to run this firm from a client side, but also from a firm management and working with other people and empowering other people to do really good work and to enjoy staying here and working here.

Ian: I love what you’re talking about, and I think it’s really difficult for folks who are entering the profession or new in their careers or they’ve been at their firm for three or four years and they’re considering whether or not this is their lifetime firm. How do you foster a relationship where you as mid to late 20s individual can have the kind of effect where you bring talking stick to the firm or you’re able to empower your team members, not only your peers and those who view themselves on your level, but those who are clearly not and they’re above you in… at least in firm structure. How do you get to that point?

Adam: It takes a while because to bring something like talking stick, which is very touchy feely.

Ian: Sure

Adam: …where you have a stick and you pass it around and you get to say kind of whatever you want to say and you have the talking stick, you get to speak and if you don’t have the talking stick just get to listen.

Ian: Right.

Adam: Instead of bringing something like that to a firm, you have to have the ear of the owner and you have to have the trust of the owner. I was fortunate in that Rich Donnelly is similar to Marty Kurtz to be honest and very thoughtful and he’s always happy to have conversations with his employees, but even if you’re not in that particular type of environment, I think initially making sure to plant the seed with the owner of, hey, I really care about this firm and I think doing x would really benefit the team.

Adam: Can we try to set aside some time, not this week, maybe not this month, but set aside some time for you and I from employee to owner, have a chance just to talk some of my ideas and ways I can think we can make this firm or this team gel better, work better, be more efficient, and so you have to start by just kind of cracking the door open at the very least and continuing because just try to start to have a dialogue with the owner so that way they agree to your ideas and they say they’re willing to accept your ideas and listen to you and then keep that dialogue going.

Adam: And then I think something else that’s really important is if you’re able to get that dialogue started, that’s also in the same instance as when you want to start planning the seed of, hey, I really care about this firm. I really care about the growth and the success of this firm, someday I would like to be a part of this growth and success more than just a salaried employee, but someone who is actively participating, growing the firm and becoming an owner. In that vein, I think is when those conversations start to happen.

Ian: If someone’s in this situation and they’ve cracked the door open and they’re preparing for that, someone has made time for them. They’ve asked for it, and the time has been made. How do they show up? How did you show up? What works, what doesn’t work? What maybe, what… don’t show up doing this?

Adam: I think, the big one I would say is don’t show up going in and complaining about everything, right. You’re going to carve out 30 minutes of the owners time and you’re going to walk in the door and say, “Hey, this sucks, this needs to be better. I don’t like this, and yada, yada.” I mean, that door is going to get shut so quickly on you that it’s never going to be open again, but if you come in and you’re… you have to realize that the owner themself, he or she is working really hard to manage their clients, manage the team, think about new ways of growing the firm. I mean, they’re working really hard. I think you have to give them the credit that they’ve built a company that’s successful and they’re doing everything they know how to do or everything they have time to do, right.

Adam: If you’re going to come in there and you’re going to suggest some thing, I think you have to make sure that you’re coming in with positive suggestions, have a positive attitude about it, and the suggestions that you’re suggesting should be things that maybe that you can do yourself and say, hey, I’d like to do this. Can I take this and run with it? Or hey, I see that we’re struggling in this area over here, can I give it a go? Can you put that on my plate and I’ll try to take that on. I mean, I think some of the things that we as a firm of Donnelly Wealth Advisors always pushed off to the side where things like creating a new website or having a social media campaign or things like that, and if you’re able to take some of those types of tasks that just take time and effort, if you’re able to own those tasks and run with it, then you’re showing your owner, hey, I can take on more than just what my job description says I do.

Adam: I think that’s what you want to show the owner, is that you are more than just what the exact job description that they hired you for and that you are capable of doing more.

Ian: The second question then is, what if they reject your idea? You come in, you’ve showed up well, you didn’t complain the whole time you were well thought out, but it’s not resonating. Then what?

Adam: Then you just got to try again, thank them for their time. Try to get some feedback as to maybe why this project or this idea isn’t going to happen now. I think usually if something is turned down, it’s probably just because we just don’t have the time for it right now and we’re at the end of tax season or it’s the end of the year and we just don’t have time for it. You have to be conscious of that. I would say, try again, be more thoughtful and be still considered of their time and energy, and then at a certain point though, if your ideas really aren’t making any progress, then I think at that point is also when you look around and say, well, I don’t know, is this really the firm that I want to be a part of and grow? Is the firm that I think that can become is being stifled one way or the other for a long enough time, then maybe there is opportunities elsewhere.

Ian: Sure.

Adam: I think that, that’s kind of the cold reality of that at some point too.

Ian: Sure. Assuming the ideas are good, right?

Adam: Assuming the ideas are good. I’ve had a… yes, if the ideas all suck then, I don’t know, maybe that says something about you, I don’t know.

Ian: Right.

Adam: …but I think, I’ve had a fairly unique career in that I’ve worked with the same two guys essentially my entire career. The last 10 years I’ve worked with Brad Owen and Rich Donnelly and we’ve had… our team has grown and we brought on a lot of great people, especially in the last year or so, and I think one of the reasons why I’ve stayed with those two guys for so long is because we have such great conversations together. We’ve always viewed ourselves as a team, Rich Donnelly as you know, was always the man in charge at the end of the day, but he involved us so much in the conversation of where do we want to go with this firm and what initiatives do we don’t want to try, and how can we make things better, that I always felt so empowered.

Adam: Sometimes the ideas kind of get shoved off to the side at times because timing isn’t right or there isn’t a budget for it, but I’ve always felt very empowered working with Rich Donnelly and Brad Owen and that’s why I’ve been here my entire career-

Ian: Sure.

Adam: …and up to this point and will continue to do so.

Ian: Which is a testament, right, for how to retain employees who’re, A, of your caliber and B, who’re doing good work.

Adam: Yeah.

Ian: You’ve been in these situations where you’ve had some ideas. Was GenVest Planning your baby so to speak?

Adam: Yeah, it was. I think it was something that I walked away with from one of the conferences that I attended at one point of, hey, it would be kind of neat to have that have essentially a subsidiary firm focused on younger clientele. Clientele that’s more my peer group for one, but also clientele that still needs planning, and so I talked about it with Rich for a long time and we spent some time together and filed a DBA and help build the website, and so we spent some dollars on that little project, but yeah it was my idea and kind of my baby, and if it didn’t work out then well, it didn’t work out, but I really wanted it to work.

Adam: I’m not saying that it was an overwhelmingly thriving success and we made a ton of profit on it, but we did really well with it. We brought in a lot of clients and we even… it was kind of funny too, we even brought in clients who were the parents of the clients we were initially targeting. There’s a couple scenarios where we had a younger couple come in and then they referred me to their parents and then their parents end up being wealthy individuals who were from a revenue standpoint, a really good client to have and really complicated and wonderful to work with. That isn’t the norm, but that happened as well in that instance.

Ian: Sure, so you’ve taken leadership opportunities within the firm, you’ve demonstrated your soft skill ability, your technical ability. You had some leadership opportunities outside of the firm. I know you were a local leader for NexGen and San Diego. Were there other leadership opportunities where you were able to sort of demonstrate where you can add that leadership value.

Adam: I think it’s always good to be involved outside of just your office and be involved in the community. I’m obviously as you are in… very passionate about this industry-

Ian: Sure.

Adam: …which is why we’re involved in the Financial Planning Association, but outside of that I was involved in the Boys & Girls Club for quite a while and then helped kind of with a young professional organization and sat on the board there with my fraternity. I sat on the… run the Alumni Chapter here in San Diego for a number of years and help support that group, and then right now I’m currently the president-elect of the FPA Chapter here in San Diego.

Adam: I think it’s always good to just stay involved, and you don’t have to run the organization necessarily, but if you are involved and you’re on the board, you know, one that helps with overall prospecting over time, but I think it just further develops you as an individual and as a leader and you get a chance to work with different people too, which I think must be a really great growth experience if you’re working with different people from different industries.

Adam: Those are some of the groups that I think are the most dynamic and so much the most interesting to work with when you’re working with someone that’s not a financial planner, and you’re trying to accomplish a similar task or goal.

Ian: Exactly, and you pick up different leadership skills, right, so if you were surrounded by the same leaders all the time, you may not be as well rounded as you might be otherwise.

Adam: Sure. Yeah.

Ian: At least that’s what it sounds like you’re saying.

Adam: Yeah, that’s what I’m saying.

Ian: Great, so then the decision comes and it sounds like the folks who you were working with were encouraging you to consider partnership and so at Donnelly that was the case and then you had some strategic planning discussions and you wind up connecting with EP Wealth Advisors. What does it mean to you now? We talked a little bit about early on, what does it mean to you now to be an owner? This is no small investment, right, so it’s a big decision to make. What were your sort of driving factors to make that investment in the firm?

Adam: I think becoming an owner of a firm and what that means is different depending on the size of the firm. I think, the quick and easy answer of, oh, I’m an owner, that generally means that you’re the one running the company, or at least you’re involved in running the company, but that’s not necessarily always the case and shouldn’t be the case. When I was working on becoming an owner of Donnelly Wealth Advisors at that point in time, we had hired FP Transitions and we had worked on the evaluation and we were crunching numbers, and it was through the course of that kind of discovery process that we began to talk about strategic planning for the longterm of the firm, because I think that’s a big thing too, is that when you talk about succession planning and passing the firm from one generation to the next, or one owner to another owner, a big portion of succession planning is more than just changing the name on the front of the door.

Adam: It’s about how do you create a plan for the firm and for all the clients moving forward, and as we were looking at our succession plan, what we decided was that strategically partnering with a larger firm so that way we could begin to offload some of the daily trading, some of the compliance, some marketing to HR to a larger firm essentially and get back to focusing more and more time on being a planner, being an advisor. For us as a office, as a firm, as a team, that’s what we decided was the best succession plan for the entire firm.

Adam: In doing that, during that course, that conversation both Brad and I kind of looked at Rich and said, well, if we do this, we want to make sure that we’re still equity owners because we’ve helped build this firm to what it is today. The fact that we’re able to do this merge is because we’ve been involved in building this firm, so if we do this whole merge, we want to make sure that we then have equity stake in the firm that we’ve built, and so now we’ll have equity stake in the firm that we’re joining.

Adam: In terms of becoming an owner and that initial plan, the plan there was to give Rich the opportunity to retire at some point and start that ball rolling, but then through the course of that, when we realized, you know what, I think longterm it would be a good fit for us to find a firm that looks and acts very similar to us, which is what EP Wealth Advisors is. We kind of shopped ourselves around and after looking around the west coast for all the other major firms, we landed on EP because they were still planning centric and investment philosophy lined up, so we joined them and so now that I’m an owner of EP Wealth Advisors, I’m an owner because I have equity in the company, so as the company grows, I benefit from that, and I’m still helping lead the San Diego office, but I am not in charge of leading the entire hundred person company that we have now become.

Adam: I think becoming an owner doesn’t necessarily have to mean that you’re making all the decisions, but it does mean that you are involved in the growth of the company from an equity standpoint, and I think you don’t necessarily need to become an owner to run the company, if it’s a small company, you kind of do, but if you’re joining a larger company, the opportunity to become an owner of that company gives you the ability to grow with the company from an equity and a value standpoint.

Ian: Yeah, and I think what I’m hearing you say is there’s a decision to be made at some point of whether or not you want to be an owner that is strictly the owner making ownership decisions or you want to be client-facing, right.

Adam: I think the key thing that I’m trying to drive home here is that if you’re involved in a succession plan and you’re really looking at the longevity of the firm and the clients and all of that, part of that longevity and that responsibility as an owner is making sure, hey, do we have a strategy beyond just switching the name on the door, do we have a strategy to keep things going, and what is our strategy. For Brad and I our strategy we decided was to join EP, so as an owner of Donnelly Wealth Advisors, I was a very much a part of the conversation to merge with EP as part of that longterm strategy, and then now as an owner of EP, I’m not as involved in the day to day strategy of the firm, but I am very much involved in the day to day management of our office here in San Diego and helping guide our mentor team down here.

Ian: One of the last few questions I have for you is are there pitfalls that people could step into if they show up incorrectly to discussions with current owners as they’re considering becoming owners themselves?

Adam: Yeah, I think one of the pitfalls that often, not often, but can happen is if you think you’re owed ownership, I think that could be a pitfall. Now you might think you’re owed ownership because you help build the firm or you brought in so many clients or you’re developing all these new things, but if the owner of the firm doesn’t view you as a business partner, then you have to help shape the mind of the owner to get them to see that, but it’s not necessarily owed to you. Nothing is owed to you.

Adam: If you really want to be an owner that bad, then go start your own company and do it yourself, but that feeling owed factor, I feel like I see that often with our generation as they’re struggling to have these conversations with some of the older advisors to move on the firm. I think the other aspect of that being owed is also the assumption that, hey if I become an owner, it’s not going to cost me anything. I can tell you that becoming an owner, it’s usually not free. You have to pay for it in some capacity.

Adam: Now, generally speaking, when you’re an owner, hopefully you can work it out where company profit distributions help cover the cost of the loan or something in some kind of transaction like that, but buying into the company, I mean the owner is generally not going to give it away for free, it’s pretty unique if they do but you’re going to be expected to buy in and put up money that either you have to borrow or that you have to come up with, and so the assumption that you’re going to get it for free, and it’s going to be easy is also I think incorrect in most cases, not every case, but in those cases.

Adam: That being said, your overall spendable income during at least those initial years may go down, but if you think about it from the firm owner’s perspective, when the initial firm owner started everything, I mean, they took a leap of faith and they probably didn’t make a lot of money either. The first three to five years, it took them a while to get things going, not to say that it needs to be a rite of passage, but they’re used to that experience, and so I think as a younger firm owner coming in, you should expect that as well to some degree.

Ian: The last question, I think you’ve made this clear throughout our discussion, but what keeps you going? You’ve made partner, right, you become an owner or part owner. What keeps you motivated to keep planning, to keep on every day? Is the ownership in and of itself, what keeps you motivated?

Adam: I mean the ownership is maybe one small component because when I have success and I bring in more clients or when the team has success, we operate very much as a team in here in San Diego, when they have success, then my ownership value goes up to some degree, but I think what really keeps me going is the fact that I truly love this business and I love the team that we have and the folks that we work with. Since joining EP, I’ve been able to spend a lot more time with clients and new clients and that’s what we’re trying to get after.

Adam: I’ve spent very little time actually doing very much portfolio trading or marketing or compliance or usual fund research at this point. I’ve spent so much more time this year working on getting new clients and spending time with my existing clients. For me that was kind of a nice refresh of, oh this is why I got into the business, is to spend time directly with clients day in and day out, and now I get to do that even more, and so every new client that comes in, is a new kind of exciting tale and a new interesting complexity to work with, and I find that really, really exciting and interesting, and just the growth aspect, I mean, we’re growing down here in San Diego, so it’s exciting to see the ability for us to spend more time with clients and bringing in clients, and we’re growing, and so that’s… I think we’re growing at a much faster rate than we have in the last couple of years, and that’s exciting. It’s fun to watch the company do well and have success, and so it’s been an exciting last year here.

Ian: You said something that struck me and now I have to ask you. You’re a part owner and you sort of seem to revel in the idea that you don’t have to worry about marketing and some of the strategic discussions you want to be working on clients. How do you bifurcate between not working on marketing for the firm and at the same time growing your business?

Adam: Not marketing for the firm… I would consider marketing for the firm, working on a website and then posting things to our website or trying to submit for, a biggest firm in San Diego kind of thing, like all that stuff is stuff that we now have a team to help us for in that instance. Marketing for myself, I mean I’m still… I try to be really active in the San Diego business community, so that’s marketing for myself. I try my hardest to be on social media. I’m not naturally as inclined to do that. Maybe it’s some, but I try and then trying to just represent myself as a personal brand, you know, Adam Warner, great financial planner, great guy.

Adam: As much as I can do that and brand myself and continue to brand the firm as just a great financial planning firm, I can and I do, but I don’t have to update the website anymore.

Ian: Right.

Adam: …so it’s a hard spot for me back in the day. Yeah.

Ian: Make sense. Awesome. All right, well thanks Adam. Thanks for being with us today.

Adam: Yeah, happy to be here Ian.

Ian: All right, well that’s it. That’s a wrap.

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