From Employee to Entrepreneur: Considerations for Starting Your Independent RIA

Jul 7, 2023 | Guides

Being a financial advisor is one of the most rewarding career paths out there, regardless of whether you work for an employer or yourself. In this role, you have the opportunity to work with clients who respect your wisdom and guidance.

If you’ve been an employee at an RIA, broker dealer, or other financial services company, there comes a point where you may be reflecting on what’s next in your career. You may be thinking about leaving your full-time role to pursue a more independent, entrepreneurial path. 

Consider the following trends from the 2020 TD Ameritrade report:

  • 3 in 4 believe they’ll earn more as independent RIAs.
  • A notably higher proportion (53%) are willing to move for a modest bump in income.

Breaking away and making the move to starting an independent RIA is  not just about financial upside. It’s about life satisfaction as well. Research from Fidelity Investments has found that only 4 in 10 advisors are happy at the firms where they are employed. Only 55% indicated that someone at work had talked to them about their progress in the previous six months and only 51% said they understand what they need to do to get promoted to the next level.

For many advisors, entrepreneurship is a clear and direct pathway for career progression.

When financial advisors are ready to make the transition from employee to entrepreneur, it’s about taking action towards a goal. That’s why, according to the 2020 TD Ameritrade report, 55% of prospective breakaways say they are likely to move in the next 12 months.

Taking practical action on these objectives; however, may not always be the most straightforward process, as it’s common for new entrepreneurs — from all different industries, not just the financial advisory profession, to encounter challenges.

“The first few years of running my solo practice,” explains Kevin Andrews, who started his financial advisory practice Eagle Financial Group, based in Nampa Idaho, 20 years ago. “I was lucky enough to be taken under the wing of a wonderful mentor. She showed me the ropes, and after just 9 months working for her, I was ready to go solo. But it wasn’t easy.”

At CircleBlack, we are fortunate to work with financial advisors like Andrews who are building thriving practices. We regularly receive questions from aspiring breakaway advisors who are considering transitioning from employee to entrepreneur. We’ve compiled some of our best advice to help answer these questions, from our community.

Knowing your why

Financial advisors have different reasons for starting an independent practice.

Some aspire to make a greater societal impact while others are looking to deliver a higher level of client service. Meanwhile, some are simply seeking greater flexibility in their work lives or to spend more time with family.

“It’s up to me whether I want to scale up my business,” explains Andrews. “The question is how big I want it to be. I’m not really sure yet.”

That’s the beauty of running your own business. The possibilities are up to you to define, based on the vision for the type of organization that you’ll want to build — i.e. whether you want to take on partners, hire staff, or maintain a solo, focused practice.

At the beginning stages; however, when you’re first taking steps to launch your financial advisory practice, it’s easy to lose sight of this perspective. You might find yourself running into challenges and potentially feeling discouraged.

“To imply that this is easy or comfortable is a lie,” explains Phil Telpner is president at Breakout Private Wealth in Glenview, Illinois in an interview with U.S. News and World Report. “It is hard and scary, but if it was not, everyone would do it.” 

Staying motivated is important. That means remembering to focus on your big picture objectives. What are you looking to accomplish in your career? What will a successful outcome look like? Why have you decided to pursue an independent career path?

Everyone’s “why” is different, and one of the best ways to understand yours is to find inspiration from your peers and people whose careers you admire.

Here are some of our favorite stories we’ve come across, of advisors charting their own paths.

The impact you can make as a business owner

The benefit to establishing an independent financial advisory practice is that you can run your business on your terms, based on your unique approach to investing and working with clients. 

Running your own firm is a great way to expand your knowledge while delivering service that aligns with your values. With this freedom and flexibility, independent advisors are well-positioned to follow their passions in crafting career paths with meaning and purpose. Moreover, running your own firm means that you can choose the clients you want to serve, without restrictions.

Consider the experience of Martin A. Smith, founder at Wealthcare Financial Group, whose firm advances the mission of financial inclusion.

“After graduating from Howard University and working for a nonprofit in Washington, D.C. I thought I would go into politics,” explains Smith. “My experiences gave me a heart for understanding the needs of people, particularly African Americans and Latinos, who have been underserved by the financial industry.”

He elaborates that today, African Americans are for the most part first or second generation investors due to a history of not having adequate representation within the finance industry. His personal life experiences were a motivating consideration for starting his independent business.

“As an example, I was the second person in my family to own any mutual funds,” he says. “My mother was the first as she started investing in her employer-sponsored retirement plan when she was in her mid 40’s.”

“Despite these hurdles, African Americans’ participation in the stock market has grown considerably within the past 10 to 15 years,” Smith elaborates.

Smith has devoted his career to embodying the change he wants to see in the world. So he became a financial advisor and started Wealthcare Financial Group, Inc. in 2003. 

“Early in my career, a friend read an article I wrote and said that I have a knack for encouraging people,” says Smith. “They suggested that I go become a financial planner.”

His career journey led him to establish a series of business ventures that truly helps people.

“We are not afraid to challenge conventional wisdom in our approach to investing and preserving wealth,” explains the firm’s website.

Smith built his practice, brick by brick, from the ground up. His entrepreneurial days began in 1994, before he began obtaining his financial planning certifications. 

“I started with a small firm with mutual funds and life insurance,” he says. “I was replacing predatory life insurance that was sold in poor neighborhoods throughout Washington, D.C.. I’m talking about single mothers with maybe 3 or 4 kids who have anywhere from $1,000 to $10,000 of coverage, who were told that her policy is a savings.”

“I would go to them and say, ‘okay you’re spending $300 a month for this. We’re going to give you a $150,000, 20-year term insurance policy for $100. Then, we’re going to put $25/month towards your kids’ college and invest the rest into mutual funds.’”

Beyond the clients who Smith serves, he strives to make a community impact as a recognized leader. Smith is a presenter at the NBA Development League, is a Public Speaker and Educator on the topic of Federal Employee Retirement & Investment Planning at the California Air National Guard, and a Financial Planning Educator for employees at PG&E.

Similarly, Tucson, Arizona based Mark Silverman of Silverman + Associates Wealth Management, LLC is a visible leader in various associations and community groups including the local Financial Planning Association (FPA) board, Habitat for Humanity finance committee, Foothills Club of Tucson (FCT), Caballeros del Sol (CABS), Southern Arizona Estate Planning Council (SAEPC), and Vistage Worldwide. He hosts both a radio show and a podcast called, $aving With $ilverman, focusing on financial and retirement planning in addition to investing.

Being a business owner means that you can focus where and how to devote your focus.


It’s about work-life balance 

For human beings, time is the most valuable resource on this planet. That’s why it’s important, in life, to devote your focus to what matters most to you personally. 

Running your business on your terms gives you the freedom and flexibility to live your life to the fullest — the biggest reason being that you can choose your own hours to get your work done. Consider the experience of Pat Hehir, for instance, who is one of four partners in his advisory firm, Princeton Financial Partners, in Newtown, Pennsylvania. 

Herir has three teenage children with whom he spends as much time as possible. Two of his children have an active hockey career, and he is fortunate to be present at their athletic events due to his ability to manage his schedule.

Some financial advisors are even bringing their families into their practices and building multigenerational firms. One example is Susan Michel who is the founder and CEO of Kingston New Jersey based Glen Eagle Advisory

Founder and CEO Susan Michel established the company in 2002 from her kitchen, with the vision of helping clients achieve sustainable, long-term goals. Her goal was to deliver on promises and provide a service level that she felt was missing on Wall Street. Both Michel’s son and daughter are key leadership personnel at Glen Eagle.

Work is a part of life, and it’s important to spend your life pursuing a career that you enjoy.

The power of an owner’s mindset

When you build your own firm, you are in control of how that business brings value to the people you care about most — especially your family. Given the importance of generational wealth in our society, owning your own business can help establish a legacy that benefits the people you care about most.

One compelling story here is that of California-based Diversified Capital Group, a firm run by a father and son duo, Paul Laughton and Cole Laughton. When Paul established Diversified Capital Group in 2007, he was motivated to build a business that offers truly independent financial advice to his firm’s client base.

“It was not the right environment for me,” says Paul. “I wasn’t keen on the banking culture, habits, and pressures on advisors like myself to market and promote internal products.”

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. One dream that has come true for Paul has been the ability to bring on his son Cole as a business partner to the firm.

“Bringing Cole on has been a dream come true,” explains Paul. “It’s wonderful to work with him and great to be able to communicate on a daily basis — to share screens and problem-solve together.”

“It’s a pretty rewarding business.”

With Cole on the team, the duo is empowered to build a multigenerational firm that can serve a multigenerational client base. Prior to joining Diversified Capital Group, Cole held a career as an IT project management consultant for the oil and gas industry. He worked with organizations to design and implement software solutions and technology stacks.

“Cole understands software way better than I do,” Paul elaborates. “His background and brainpower in this area are far superior to mine.”

As owners, Cole and Paul have built a business that aligns with their passions in all regards — for software and systems-building, for family, and for providing great service to their clients. This dream took years to build.

The key to taking action towards your goals

The short answer: it’s about mindset, setting attainable goals for yourself, and taking intelligent steps forward. Similar to managing your clients’ investment portfolios, the key is to conduct a risk/reward analysis that helps you take the right steps forward for your situation.

One approach is to think like an engineer. As you think about the big-picture of breaking away from your employer and starting your own practice, it helps to create a checklist, according to Grier Rubeling, owner and operator of Raleigh, North Carolina based Advisor Transition Services, for the Kitces blog. She recommends creating a schedule and sticking to the process:

“Assign a date of completion goal to each of the tasks, centering the timing around your proposed resignation date, as once you pull the trigger on your resignation, the race will be on to transition your clients quickly – not only to bring them along before your prior firm competes to retain them, but also simply because you don’t get paid and generate new revenue in your new RIA business until the clients actually transition with you (and you can bill them)!

Keeping a running list of your open transition tasks is good practice, especially if adjustments to the timeline need to be made.”

When you’re working full time, it may be challenging to prioritize time after work to move your business forward. Something as simple as keeping a checklist can help you make progress in spite of time constraints.

Setting up your firm

When you’re an employee of a larger firm, your employer takes care of managing a marketing budget, overseeing operations, maintaining compliance protocols, obtaining insurance, and running a payroll.

One of the challenges of being a business owner is the never-ending pressure of getting everything done. It can be tough to know where to focus your time, energy, and attention. 

In Part 2 of this guide, we’ll help you get organized by listing the exact considerations to prioritize when starting your breakaway firm. The idea is to get started while you are already employed to simplify and de-risk the transition to entrepreneurship. 

Here are 9 recommendations to keep in mind.

1.  Maintain a positive relationship with your employer

Before breaking away from your employer, it’s important to take steps to part ways on good terms. Now is a good idea to read your employment contract to understand potential conflicts of interests and liabilities.

As an extra level of precaution, it’s a good idea to consult a lawyer to avoid the possibility of a potential legal dispute. At a minimum, you’ll want your attorney to review provisions for non-competes, client solicitation, and confidentiality agreements.

If you’re not sure what questions to ask or what to be looking for, you can talk to other advisors who have broken away from your firm to see what the process was like.

In some cases, it may make sense to give your employer a heads up. If you’re on good terms with your employer, your departure might even be met with congratulations. Your former employer may be a potential referral source for your practice and strong collaborator, down the line. Every employment situation is different, however. You’re in the best position to conduct a temperature check with respect to your organization’s culture. In an unsupportive, captive environment, you may not want to say anything at all.

As you navigate this delicate balancing act, it’s helpful to keep an eye on legislation that’s unfolding. For instance, the Federal Trade Commission recently released a rule proposal that would prohibit employers from using noncompete agreements that prohibit employees from joining rival companies.

3. Establish a startup budget

It’s a good idea to set aside funds to help with managing your transition into entrepreneurship. Depending on your business model, you may anticipate costs including working with consultants, obtaining office space, hiring staff, setting up software, launching your website, and implementing the right bookkeeping software. This budget should also help you fund your own salary, which you’ll need to cover your living expenses. 

Your startup budget depends on your specific situation, in addition to the timing that you anticipate it will take to build up your book of business. Consider making a spreadsheet to ensure that you have a clear view into anticipated costs. 

4. Plan out how you’ll run your business operations

It’s a good idea to make a detailed business plan before you take action on starting your financial advisory practice — especially if you’re considering a partnership with other potential advisors. This business plan should be clear about the components of your business model, in addition to how you’ll run your firm. The more you document ahead of time, the better. 

Here are some tactical details to consider:

  • How you’ll handle HR and benefits, particularly your insurance policies for healthcare and whether you’ll be running a regular payroll. For instance, you may choose to work with a preferred employer organization (such as TriNet or ADP) to outsource your benefits. You can also work with brokers and with companies directly to obtain your policies.
  • Whether and when you’ll need to handle administrative staff or junior advisors
  • What tools and technologies you’ll need to get your business up and running
  • What you’ll need to spend on subscriptions, such as insurance policies
  • What you anticipate needing for growth and marketing

Understandably, writing a business plan will be challenging. As the saying goes, you don’t know what you don’t know. Much of the exercise of creating your business plan depends on making the right choices for the business that you want to run.

As you develop your business plan, you can consider working with a coach or consulting firm that specializes in supporting breakaways. This perspective can help you cover your bases, determine realistic goals, ensure cost efficacy, and find opportunities that you may not have considered.

Don’t be afraid to talk with your peers or mentors, either. It’s valuable to gain extra perspective — especially to help make sure that you don’t make an error in your thinking.

5.  Choose your business entity structure

At some point, you will need to incorporate your business into a formal entity such as an S corporation, C corporation, or LLC.

Before making the decision, it’s important to consult with a certified public accountant (CPA) who works with financial advisory businesses like yours to best understand the tax implications.

One decision you’ll need to make is when to incorporate your business. This timing will depend on your individual circumstances, particularly your employment contract in addition to your confidence level for how quickly you can get everything up and running.

In any case, you’ll need to take action on forming your business entity on day one, before you advertise your business publicly or take on potential clients. 

Your business entity structure will depend on the business model that you’ve established in #4.

Every business entity structure has its own unique legal and tax considerations.

6. Solidify your custodian relationship

As you research custodians, you’ll notice that you have many different options. 

Choosing the right solution is crucial to a well-run financial advisory practice that can continue to grow. Here are a few considerations for your evaluation process:

  • Determine which option will provide the optimal experience for your clients
  • Know whether there are any AUM minimums
  • Evaluate whether potential custodians will help your firm perform more efficiently
  • Conduct an assessment regarding cost structure — seek out transparent options without hidden fees
  • Ensure that there are appropriate standards in place for asset safety
  • Identify your unique use case, so that you’re establishing the optimal partnership for your needs
  • Select an option that can grow with your business from a technical perspective with features such as an open platform architecture
  • Seek out custodians that demonstrate transparency rather than institutions that are making decisions behind closed doors
  • Make sure you get an accurate picture of the types of customer service to expect.

Before making a final decision, talk to other advisors to gather their perspectives. It’s a good idea to gain an understanding of technology capabilities and customer service support levels.

As an independent financial advisor, you’ll need to be on your toes and responsive. It’s critical to work with a custodian that maintains high-performance service levels and standards.

7. Build your compliance foundation

RIA tasks are detail-driven and complex, which is why it’s a good idea to hire an experienced compliance consultant rather than trying to handle everything on your own. 

Your compliance consultant can help you navigate the registration process with the Investment Advisor Registration Depository (IARD), which is regulated by the  Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA). This electronic filing system manages RIA registrations and public disclosures.

“Ideally, retain your consultant before submitting your Form ADV since the firm will likely have useful templates to speed the process,” explains Jon Talamas at 360 Coverage Pros. “ It can also help with your other compliance tasks such as developing a client advisory contract, a policy and procedures manual, a privacy policy statement and a Code of Ethics.”

Since you’ve already worked as an investment advisory representative (IAR), you likely will not need to get an IAR license. However, you will need to register your business as an RIA since you are establishing a new entity for your organization. Your registration will be terminated by your old firm, and you will need to change it to the new one.

These forms and registration processes can be complicated. It’s helpful to work with a compliance expert — and possibly an attorney — early on.

8. Establish your early client base — and secure verbal commitments before taking the jump

The toughest days of entrepreneurship are when you’re getting your business from 0 to 1. During this transitionary period from your job to starting your business, you may not yet have the client base that you need to sustain your revenue and profitability requirements. 

These early days of running a business can be particularly nerve-wracking, especially if you rely on a consistent revenue to support your livelihood. 

Here are some steps to help you achieve stability early on.

Suggestion #1: Connect with your network of supportive clients

One way to reduce this risk is to begin building your client base sooner rather than late, while you’re in between roles . Provided that you respect and abide by your employment contract, you can let your clients know that you’re planning to start your own firm. Even if you’re not able to reach out to clients directly, you may be able to share that you are making a transition, through an independent party. Keep in mind that you’ll need to respect your relationship with your employer, first and foremost. Transitioning clients is a sensitive topic, ultimately.

Rubeling writes for Kitces that you should make sure to bring your clients’ basic contact information such as name, email address, phone number, job title, etc.

However, it’s important to remember that when you’re starting a new firm, you’re establishing a new business relationship. Data privacy regulations and compliance laws may come into play, so it’s important to speak with an attorney about what you can and can’t take with you. 

The risk you take in bringing your clients with you is up to your discretion, so it’s important to be informed about the decisions you’re making. Remember that even if your clients know you, there will be a transition of the business relationship between your employer and your new firm. It is important to be mindful of and sensitive to this practical consideration.

Suggestion #2: Request referrals from fellow advisors

Another way to quickly and efficiently find clients is to request referrals from fellow advisors who you know and trust. One suggestion that Andrews has shared is to acquire lists from advisors who may be shutting down their practices.

An important trend to recognize is that there currently aren’t enough advisors in the United States to meet the demands of clients. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there are 218,100 personal financial advisors in the U.S., which translates to 9.70 financial advisors for every 10,000 adults ages 25 and older. Keep in mind that thanks to technology,  you can offer your services anywhere in the United States, especially in regions where there may be a shortage of advisors.

One question to ask peer advisors is if they are looking to offload particular clients — or if they are receiving an abundance of potential clients that they are unable to handle.

Suggestion #3: Request referrals from clients

In addition to asking advisors for referrals, you can also talk with clients with whom you have a strong connection. A lot of advisors are reluctant to take this step due to the perception of appearing salesy — which is why only 11% of advisors ask for client referrals according to NASDAQ. In these moments of hesitation, it’s important to remember that your top clients want you to do well. Consider that people are 4x more likely to become clients to an advisor following a referral from a friend and that 58% 

“I’m starting a new financial advisory practice and open to accepting new clients. As the saying goes, good people know good people, and I’m wondering if you know anyone who might be a good fit for my approach to wealth management. I trust your judgment and value your recommendations.”

Be open and kind. You never know who’s willing to support you behind the scenes.

Suggestion #4: Team up with institutions such as local banks, investment platforms, CPAs, and brokers

The financial advisory profession is part of a larger ecosystem of interconnected organizations. As you launch your financial advisory practice, it’s important to get the word out to adjacent firms that might be seeking partners to refer clients.

Consider the scenario of a young couple working with a CPA, having questions about their long-term retirement strategy. It’s only natural that the couple would ask the CPA for advice in this area. At that moment, the CPA will likely need top-of-mind recommendations to make an immediate connection to a financial advisor or planner.

You can also reach out to your custodian or any other institution to see if there are formal referral programs in place for advisors like you. With this approach, you’ll get a head start to building a continual stream of client leads.

9. Build alliances with fellow-advisors

The financial advisory profession is inherently driven by alliances, relationships, and a collaborative ethos. 

One of the biggest mistakes you can make is to not join community associations soon enough. These trade groups often host online and in-person events to meet up with fellow advisors, technology providers, financial institutions, and adjacent industry firms.

The best way to discover these groups, if you’re not already involved in any,  is to ask peer advisors for recommendations. You can also search for local groups in your area. Associations like the Financial Planning Association have regional groups that you can easily join. These platforms are valuable for knowledge-sharing and connection-building — it’s valuable to learn from your peers regardless of whether they send you client referrals or not.

If you don’t see a community that makes sense for you to join, you can always create your own. Consider Kevin Andrews at Eagle Financial Group.

“There’s a small group of us at our broker-dealer,” says Andrews. “Two advisors from Idaho, two from Oregon, and three from Washington. We meet regularly to compare notes, challenges, and client cases.”

The beauty of community-building is that you never know where connections will lead.

Preparing your technology foundation

Technology is at the center of every high performing business today. 

If you’re thinking about starting your own financial advisory practice, it’s important to make sure that you have the right tools and systems in place. That means implementing a financial advisory technology stack that you can use to operate your business. 

Here are 5 recommendations to help you choose the right solution for your practice:

1. Have a clear sense of your exact needs

The 2022 Investment News 2022 Advisor Technology study found that 76% of financial advisors prefer to choose best fit technology solutions as opposed to a limited, unified offering.

‘Best fit’ solutions are tailored to your business’s exact needs. That means, you can customize the technical infrastructure that you build to the human processes that run your business behind the scenes.

“Every six months, I scrutinize the software that I use,” says Smith. “I ask myself what’s working and what’s potentially a waste of money. I also evaluate whether technology is too expensive, in addition to meeting its highest and best use for my practice.”

2. Know what technology you need on day one

There’s a lot of jargon in the world of financial advisor tech. Here are some concepts to keep in mind:

CRM vs. wealth management solution

One common question that comes up among financial advisors is the difference between customer relationship management (CRM) platforms and more comprehensive wealth management solutions. In general, advisors tend to be familiar with CRMs but less so than other types of tech.

“If you think of the financial advisors’ ecosystem, CRM is one of the key components,” explains Tricia Haskins, vice president of digital strategy and platform consulting at Fidelity Institutional, in an interview with Investor’s Business Daily. “We found that 82% of advisors had a CRM. More than half of the advisors said that their CRM platform became more valuable during the pandemic.”

Tactically speaking, CRM software helps financial advisors better manage their marketing, sales/prospecting strategies, and campaign outreach.  Wealth management solutions, on the other hand, are specifically designed for financial institutions and wealth management firms to strengthen client relationships. 

Financial advisors use their wealth technology stacks for the specific purpose of tracking and analyzing a client’s investments, assets, and debts, helping them to identify opportunities and develop strategies to maximize returns. Wealth tech can help assist with the decision, for instance, to identify portfolio diversification opportunities or to assess the risk profile of a client’s investments.

Software integrations

Software integration refers to the process of combining different software systems, applications, or tools in order to allow them to work together and exchange data. 

This can be achieved through various methods, such as using APIs (Application Programming Interfaces), integration platforms, or custom code. Some tech works together seamlessly in a plug-and-play environment. Some integrations will require custom technical development.

3. Build for the future

Choosing the right technology is a key strategic decision for your business. A well-built foundation will help you deliver an exceptional client experience while also saving hours in your day. As you choose your tech, be sure to think about your future client base — in addition to how your platform of choice will help you get to the destination that you envision. Remember that the future is around the corner.

4. Be thorough in your evaluation

As you evaluate potential options for building your financial advisory practice, here are 6 consideration questions to ask before making a decision:

  • Will it improve relationships with my clients? 

From updating financial plans to getting aligned around performance reporting, advisors can ensure that clients have a continuous, transparent, and clear line of sight regarding investment decisions. The key is to choose software that provides clarity while instilling confidence.

  • Is it customizable to the values of my practice?

As a financial advisor, your decision-making process is the foundation of your practice. Remember that your clients chose to work with you based on your skills, personality, and wisdom — which all originate from your values as a practitioner. The right all-in-one advisor tech will remind your clients of these values in every digital interaction.

  • Will I have transparency into the product roadmap?

High-performing software companies are continually building new product features. These upgrades introduce value that you can pass on to your client base of investors.

One of the challenges that you may run into with your all-in-one technology provider, however, is lead time around new releases. Even though your software is a core part of your business, you may need to wait until a launch announcement to hear about new features.

Ideally, your software provider will be able to provide you with more advanced lead time by sharing what’s in the queue, what’s in progress, and what’s been recently released (as an example, you can take a look at CircleBlack’s public-facing product roadmap as an example here). 

  • Does the platform prioritize simplicity and ease of use?

One of the biggest challenges with advisor tech today, according to an article published in Financial Advisor Magazine, is that tools are created for engineers rather than advisors. As a result, firms end up wasting money and time on solutions that they aren’t using. In order for software to be valuable to your firm, you need to make it a part of your ongoing operations. 

When choosing software, it’s important to make sure that you’re paying for the features you need. Otherwise, you risk overcomplicating your operations and potentially wasting money.

  • To what extent will  customer support operate as an extension of my team?

When it comes to choosing the right software, customer support is an important part of the decision. After all, you’re relying on technology to run your business. When you need help, your all-in-one software provider should be on standby to answer questions and help you problem-solve.

As you evaluate different options for software, be sure to ask about customer success protocols. What steps will your technology provider take to ensure that you’re well-supported? What best practices are in place to fully understand your business? Do customer success team members tend to stick around for the long-haul or only a short time?

The right software provider will be more than a vendor to your business. The best customer support professionals will actively contribute to your firm’s success.

5. Ensure that it’s client-friendly

As an independent RIA, your clients are the heartbeat of your practice. How will they respond to your software of choice?

Being able to anticipate answers to this question will be crucial. Ultimately, the goal of technology is to help facilitate relationship-building and healthy communication.

A consideration to consider here is age group. As an example, Diversified Capital Group works with clients ranging in age from 18-90. While some older investors may not be a good fit for the technology, the majority —around 60-70%— are ready for the transition.

“They’re excited to be able to look at their investment performance on their Android or iPhone devices,” explains Paul. “They can easily open up their Diversified Capital Group app, see their assets and holdings, analyze how the market is performing, and the direct impact to their portfolios.”

Piecing it all together

Starting a financial advisory practice is a lot like assembling a puzzle. The beauty of this exercise is that it’s up to you to define the picture. You get to establish the vision that your business is aspiring towards.

When you make good decisions early, you’ll set your business up with a promising foundation for continued evolution. If entrepreneurship is your dream, stay motivated — don’t get discouraged.

The key is to take action. Even small, meaningful steps forward matter.

About CircleBlack

CircleBlack is an all-in-one technology platform for relationship-focused financial advisors. To learn how our software can help you build, manage, and grow your wealth management practice, get in touch to request a demo.

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.

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