Empowering Firm Longevity

From succession planning to incorporating new technology — and meeting the needs of a more diverse client base of investors — a lot of financial advisors are thinking about the future of their practices.

Now is the time to take action. The future isn’t fast approaching, it’s happening right now. That’s why Paul Laughton, founder and principal at California based Diversified Capital Group is making smart moves to future-proof the firm he started in 2007.

The driving force behind Laughton’s decisions? 

It’s simple. It’s his humanity coupled with his desire to build an enduring business. “I was diagnosed with a non-curable spinal disease in 2018, and then I had to undergo open-heart surgery in June of 2021.”

Three weeks prior to Paul’s open-heart surgery, on Memorial Day Weekend, Laughton was out golfing with his son Cole. During that round of golf, Paul brought up the conversation of the possibility of Cole joining his firm.  

“I said to him that I really think he should consider joining the firm — that it would be a great fit for him,” explains Paul. “I didn’t want to put any pressure on him, as he had a bright future with a consulting firm that was fast tracking him on an upward trajectory.” 

It’s a conversation the two have had before, but this time it seemed to mean something more.

A few days after this discussion, Paul received a call from Cole saying “I think it’s time, and I really want to do it.”

At the time, Cole was working full time as an IT project management consultant for the oil and gas sector, where he was responsible for advising on software implementation decisions. He continued with his full-time job wrapping up a few projects he was managing which took several months. Upon completion, he began studying for and completed his Series 65 exam. Cole joined the firm shortly thereafter. 

Introducing Diversified Capital

Human relationships are the foundation of Diversified Capital’s business model. When Paul established the firm, his goal was to simply help people.

“People need someone they can rely on to call with financial questions,” explains Paul. “I enjoy helping people reach their goals, plan for their families, and grow their wealth. It’s incredibly satisfying”.

Originally, what motivated Paul to start Diversified Capital Group was a desire to offer truly independent financial advice. Previously, he had been in the brokerage industry, joining Smith Barney in 1995.

“I’m a bit of a serial entrepreneur and had the desire to forge my own path in the investment and wealth management industry. The RIA option was a perfect fit and solution for me. As an independent advisory firm, we’re not beholden to any corporate agenda of a Wall Street firm, nor are we influenced by an investment banking arm. This allows us to make independent recommendations, to the best of our ability, for our clients,” says Paul. 

Becoming independent was a decision to deliver service and provide advice that Paul could stand behind. Over the years, Diversified Capital Group has become a vehicle for Paul to live his life to the fullest.

“Bringing Cole on has been a dream come true,” explains Paul. “It’s wonderful to work with my son, share ideas on a daily basis, and grow the business together. Cole has been a wonderful addition to the firm.”

Why CircleBlack?

When Cole joined Diversified Capital, one of his first projects was to develop and implement a new technology platform for the firm.

“I had a rare opportunity that not a lot of people have,” says Cole. “My dad built up a great business that’s provided a great life with a healthy work/life balance. As well, I wanted Paul to enjoy some of the fruits of his labor and to have some more personal time as he transitions things over to me.”

Upgrading an outdated system

“Cole understands software much better than I do,” Paul elaborates. “His background in this area is far superior to mine. So, his first project was to develop a technology platform that could help service and grow our business into the future, as well as assist our clients with their needs and desires.”

After a great deal of research and reviewing a range of technologies, Cole found his way to CircleBlack and other affiliated fintech software that he ultimately implemented into the firm.

Simplifying processes

“Our goal was to offer our clients a simple and seamless client portal,” says Cole. “CircleBlack also has great reporting technology, which is helpful to illustrate asset allocation, performance, sector breakdowns, risk analysis, etc. with our clients.”

“CircleBlack has become the nucleus for our fintech allowing us to aggregate everything into one dashboard,” elaborates Cole. “What drew me to CircleBlack was its intuitive user interface. This is the foundation we could build all other fintech software in and through. In short, it is our home base.”

Onboarding quickly, with high-touch service

Getting up and running with CircleBlack took about 48 hours. The steps involved signing a contract, setting up two integrations, and setting up Schwab as a custodian. 

“We met with CircleBlack’s customer success team via video conference weekly for the first two months to make sure that things were going smoothly,” explains Cole. 

“The support has been better than we could have expected — they were professional, timely and responsive to our needs.”

Troubleshooting challenges

For Paul and Cole, CircleBlack operates as an extension of Diversified Capital’s in-house team.

“When we had an issue with integration, we didn’t have to operate as the middlemen between CircleBlack and another software provider,” explains Cole. 

“CircleBlack’s customer support team took the initiative to troubleshoot the issue on our behalf. If we or our clients need extra support, we know we can lean on CircleBlack for assistance.”

“It’s great to be able to work with a company we can trust to care for our clients the way we care for them,” says Paul.

Guiding Clients Through Change

Diversified Capital Group works with clients of all ages. Each client has their specific wants and desires. More technology may not be for everyone, but for some it is incredibly important. The beauty is that this technology allows each client to use as much or as little as they would like. Diversified Capital sees that as a win-win situation. 

With this perspective, Paul has established enduring, multigenerational relationships based on a foundation of trust.

“Our firm has always helped clients advance towards their goals in an achievable and manageable way,” says Paul. “It’s important to us to work with partners and software providers that fit into this mission.”

CircleBlack is here to help

CircleBlack is an all in one management platform for financial advisors. We help RIAs communicate and collaborate better with their customers.

To learn how our software can help you build, manage, and grow your financial advisory  practice, get in touch. After reading this article, you may be interested in learning more about our branded app, performance reporting capabilities, and client portal.

Disclosures
This material has been prepared for educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide, and should not be relied upon for, investment, accounting, legal, or tax advice.