Why I Started My Own Advisory Firm

Just short of a year ago I was watching my one-year-old take her first steps in the living room of our home.  My wife had just left her teaching job of eight years so that she could be a stay-at-home mom.  It was a tough choice for both of us to forego her steady income, and just as difficult to see her lose those amazing health care benefits.

Our little family would be OK though. I had been working for one of the largest investment management firms in town—one that had just achieved their greatest year of growth ever. I was the youngest advisor at the firm, eager to make my mark on a city where young advisors were few and far between. My aspirations of working in a profession I first dreamed of when I was in college were now a reality. This carried new importance too, because for the first time, my family’s entire financial sufficiency rested solely on my shoulders.

But as this seemingly great opportunity lay ahead of me, I began to get the urge for a change. Not a change in career or necessarily a change in employer either. Instead, I simply wanted to improve the level of service and advice I gave my clients.

You see, over the past 10 years, while I had worked at a handful of financial firms helping people make decisions about investments, I noticed an often times sad, disappointing reoccurrence. Clients simply were not getting help in some of the most important areas of their financial life—areas like taxes, estate planning, and social security. While all of these clients had “retirement” accounts full of 5-star investments, most were not sure if they were on track for retirement. Actually, most clients couldn’t even tell you what retirement would look like because their advisor had never taken the time to sit down and explore the possibilities. Their goals weren’t well defined—and as a result it was unclear if they could ever truly reach their goals. While the firm I worked for at this time made efforts to offer financial planning better than any firm I had worked for previously, it wasn’t to the standard that I believed clients deserved, and I knew many of them wanted.

Unfortunately, the tendency to offer inadequate financial advice isn’t just characteristic of firms I’ve worked for. It’s prevalent everywhere.  Most self-proclaimed “financial advisors” will only help their clients with the investment or insurance side of their financial life.

So the natural question to ask (and one I asked myself repeatedly) is “why are people paying for what seems to be insufficient financial advice?” Well, clients accept what they’re getting because most advisory firms look and operate similarly.  And when it’s hard to tell the difference between one firm and the next, clients settle because they don’t see a better alternative.

Thankfully, there a handful of firms across the country which seek to give clients more value by providing high quality, comprehensive financial advice—including investment management, retirement planning, tax planning, and estate planning.

I was inspired by the personal story of one of these firms, and sought to bring about these improvements within the firm at which I worked. But, implementing change of that magnitude at a firm that size was not an easy task. They had done respectably well over the past 20 years, so why change now? It would require a big investment in time, money, and company resources.

The problem for me was that I didn’t want to be part of a firm that claimed greatness over the past 20 years; I wanted to help build a firm that would be great over the next 20 years (and beyond).

So I left my job and all the opportunity that went with it to start my own Registered Investment Adviser, Panoramic Financial Advice. In building Panoramic I was able to create a firm that intentionally addressed the inadequacies that are prevalent in so many investment management firms. People seeking holistic financial advice can come to Panoramic. Here, we put as much emphasis on investment management as we do financial planning and financial decision-making—all in an effort to give clients what they want when they seek the help of a financial professional.

Already, Panoramic Financial Advice is quickly approaching a year since its inception. I am happy to say that the well-balanced, comprehensive approach we take with our clients has been strongly embraced. I look forward to sharing with you more of how we are different in the coming weeks. For now, I encourage you to check out the rest of our website, follow us on Facebook and LinkedIn, and let us know if we can help serve any of your financial planning and investment management needs.