I’ll just say it…

I am a horrible runner.  Short distance.  Long distance.  No matter.

I’m slow.  No endurance.  And I get bored easily.

I also have proof.

His name is Gary, we were both on a highly competitive cross-country racing team in high school.

I joined the team because my best friend was the top runner on the team.  And we liked to hang out together.

Gary, on the other hand, was forced to join the team by his father.

It was Gary’s father’s attempt at helping his socially awkward son make friends at our new school.

A big, scary all-boys school filled with guys from all over the city.

Located in the inner city of Cleveland (rough neighborhood).

Lots of strangers.

Many of our classmates seemed very different from those we knew in our cozy, parochial school neighborhoods.

And, trust me, I was no less awkward than Gary.  I was just lucky to have one of my best friends in my same homeroom (and on the team).

Gary didn’t help himself.

On the very first day of practice, he declared that he had never run competitively before, and he did NOT plan to start.

He’d just “walk the course” because he was an avid hiker and rock climber.

This gave me a bit of relief.  I figured I couldn’t be worse than Gary if he wasn’t going to actually run.

But I was.

Gary could walk fast.  Some might say he jogged.

I, on the other hand, had absolutely no regular pace.  No strategy.  I’d sprint, run, jog, walk (slowly) and even stop.

I’d pass Gary.  But eventually he would pass me.

A sad state of affairs.

Last…always last.

In practice.  In races.  It didn’t matter.

I was awful.

My best friend told me I needed to be more competitive.  To toughen up.  He was probably right.

But I never improved.

I’ve come to realize that running just wasn’t my thing.  If you want to be a competitive runner, you need more than a friend who can fly like a gazelle.

Running, winning big races, was his passion.  Not mine.

And, even though I hate to admit it, my only purpose for running was to avoid feeling uncomfortable.

Feeling alone.

In an environment filled with strangers.

I wanted to employ talents I didn’t have…just to live up to standards that didn’t really matter to me.

I got into this prestigious school because I was really smart.  Not because I was a runner or even a good athlete.

With cross country, I was kidding myself.

But my friend was also wrong…I was competitive.  And I still am to this day.

I like winning at the things I really care about.

When I was an active financial advisor, I loved topping the charts among my colleagues for increasing AUM and fee-based revenues.

Year-after-year, I was always among the top achievers.

My team was awesome too, other advisory teams tried to emulate us.  We were the folks who got all the questions at conferences and training events.

And, most proudly, we were known by the way our clients showed their loyalty.

Competitive??? Definitely.

My race was growth, teamwork and client care.

My purpose was to lead a team that led by example.

How about you?

Do you truly believe in your purpose as a financial planner? An RIA?

Does your business actually run on that purpose?  Or do you follow the herd?

I recently met with a financial planner, Grant.  I asked him those exact questions.

Grant, as he put it, is “trying to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up.”

Despite his enviable 7-figure stream of recurring, fee-based income…he feels empty.  He doesn’t know which way to turn.  (I hope to get a chance to help him fix that.)

He’s a lot like me in my cross-country days.

Chasing goals that don’t matter because everyone is telling him they’re important.

Well-respected in his community.  His business no longer feels like his own.

No purpose.

Well over 100MM in AUM, he’s still chasing small, totally non-ideal clients.  Littering his calendar with meetings that totally BORE him.

He admits those clients are getting lousy service.

Probably damaging his reputation.

He has enough staff (3 assistants).  And they’re “the best group of people I’ve ever had.”

But they make a lousy team.

And now…

Grant is looking to buy the books of retiring advisors because he’s been told M&A is the new AUM growth secret.

In truth, he only looks at crappy books run by lousy advisors.

He ends up doing a ton of due diligence.  Making nice with advisors for whom he holds no respect.

Lining up financing.

Thinking he can fix his business by buying and fixing practices that are in worse shape than his own.

I think that’s what they mean by FOOLS GOLD.

Fortunately, he keeps getting outbid for these deals.  Deals that would most likely crush his spirit and make his business a living nightmare.

I see this false hope all the time.

Some advisors recognize their “condition.”  Most don’t.

On the flip side…I work with Jason.

Top rated planner at his hybrid firm.  Crushing it.  Far exceeding industry-trends for fee-based revenue growth.

Just lost his assistant (a real keeper) …no worries.  He quickly found a Rockstar replacement.

Wasn’t looking for an acquisition, but just inked a deal with an RIA who’s retiring.

This deal will add 50% to his AUM.

Almost all of his new clients will match his ideal client profile.

And he’ll inherit another superstar assistant.

Jason couldn’t be happier.

What’s the difference between Grant and Jason?


Jason knows what he wants.

The way he talks about his business matches up with the way he runs his business.

His “luck”, as some might jealously call it…

…adding A-player team members,

…growing fee-based revenues way faster than his peers,

…acquiring an awesome business (without competition, for a reasonable multiple), and

…taking more time away from his business than ever before

…is directly tied to the fact that he has a picture of what success really means to him, to his team and to the people he cares most about the most.

Jason’s business looks like a winner because Jason is a winner.

And NOT by accident.

He works hard.  But he’s running the races he really wants to win.

And, as he puts it himself, “I couldn’t be having more fun.”

So, I’ll leave you with this…

…building a 250MM, 500MM or more AUM practice starts with understanding your true purpose for building your business.

It’s not just about managing and making more money.

You MUST run the race you’re built to win.

When you do, you’ll still have to put in the miles, but you’ll glide to the finish line.

And you’ll always feel like a winner.

Rooting for your success!


P.S. If you’d like my personal help uncovering your purpose as you continue to build the business you’re meant to lead, send me an email: rob.brown@encorepartners.com.  We’ll schedule a time to talk.


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