Most small business owners can relate to this tension between supporting business operations and serving customers. Who has time to improve their client experience while serving as the friendly neighborhood HR Director, Chief Compliance Officer, Head of Accounting, Director of Business Systems, Chief Investments Strategist, Head of Marketing, Cyber Security Guru – oh, and sometimes the IT guy?
The awkward reality for financial advisors running their own practice is that “running their own practice” too often prevents them from giving financial advice.
“I was wearing so many hats that it was hard for me to focus time and attention on being a financial planner,” Moneta Investment Advisor Travis Freeman said when recalling his days running his own St. Louis wealth management practice. “I could have been doing so many different things to help my clients or grow my business. Instead I’m stuck doing payroll. That’s not right for my clients, who deserve better.”
Freeman operated as an independent financial advisor under the umbrella of an aggregator providing premium office space and a smattering of shared resources. An ambitious entrepreneur, he always envisioned himself wearing all those proverbial hats because he didn’t want to give up ownership or control over his practice.
“We were fiercely independent,” Freeman said. “It gave me a sense of security knowing that I built and controlled everything around me. The thought of merging with any firm, even Moneta, never really crossed my mind because I assumed I would have to give up a lot. I assumed I would be giving up some of my entrepreneurial spirit.”
Another reason he never considered a move like that was because no one ever asked him to. When Moneta Partner Gus Gast finally popped the question, it quickly became apparent to Freeman that many of his fears were unfounded. He could protect everything he cherished about independence while also receiving the operational support required to focus his time and attention on what he does best and loves to do most: empowering people to navigate life’s path through financial advice.
His business partner, however, wasn’t so sure.
“When Travis asked me to join Moneta, I said, ‘No, it’s not happening,’” Moneta Advisor Danton Troyer said.
Troyer feared working under top-down management that would micromanage his practice and tell him exactly what to do. Like Freeman, he feared losing that sense of control and autonomy that is core to so many business entrepreneurs. What Freeman and Troyer discovered at Moneta, however, was a firm offering the best of both worlds.
“I wanted all the benefits of being part of something bigger, but I also wanted the freedom to run my business my way,” Troyer said. “I didn’t think you could have both of those things.”
GROWING YOUR BUSINESS DOESN’T HAVE TO BE HARD
Because Moneta’s platform is owned by advisors and built by advisors around their unique needs, the firm shares Freeman’s and Troyer’s passion for independence. At Moneta, they would maintain ownership and control over their practice with autonomy. The payoff was plugging into Moneta’s immense resources and reputation, which empowered Freeman and Troyer to grow their business much faster than they could on their own.
“Business development is one of the first areas to suffer when you’re too busy doing other things,” Freeman said.
Under the Moneta business model, Freeman was initially concerned he would not maintain the growth rate he established on his own due to the firm’s focus on higher-net-worth prospects. But he hasn’t seen any dip in his St Louis wealth management clients at all despite quadrupling client minimums from $250,000 to $1M.
“We’re definitely more equipped at Moneta to handle high-net-worth clients,” Troyer said. “It gives you more confidence as a financial advisor to know you have that support.”
SPEND LESS TIME BURIED IN THE BACK OFFICE
Freeman’s and Troyer’s first experience with Moneta’s “Enterprise Service Team” (EST) and it’s renowned “white glove service” blew away even their loftiest expectations.
Part of their on-boarding as new Moneta advisors required transferring over their existing clients and business data – a tedious process they naturally assumed would fall to them. Instead, Moneta’s EST pleasantly surprised them by taking care of everything: paperwork for each of their existing clients, Salesforce migration for all their business contacts and all of the necessary data scrubbing.
“I was told I wouldn’t have to wear all these hats, but I couldn’t envision them going away until that happened,” Freeman said.
Moneta’s EST continued to take all the back-office tasks off their back, delegating each one to a team of specialized professionals dedicated to executing that specific discipline. Those frustrating payroll problems were now handled by a team of HR professionals. Talent acquisition specialists took over the most time-consuming aspects of recruiting new team members, from sorting through resumes to identifying top candidates with screening interviews. Freeman and Troyer were especially glad to know that the firm prioritized cybersecurity and strategically implemented a “defense-in-depth” approach to protecting their clients valuable assets and sensitive information.
“Now I can call clients and prospects rather than just being in triage catching up with my schedule and worrying about something catching on fire,” Freeman said. “Rather than trying to be an expert at everything, I want to be very talented in the areas where I have confidence and find professionals with specialized expertise to help me with the others. Moneta, fee only financial planners, finds and provides those specialized professionals for me, which empowers me to give my clients a better, more rewarding experience.”
© 2019 Moneta Group Investment Advisors, LLC. All rights reserved. These materials were prepared for informational purposes only. You should consult with an appropriately credentialed professional before making any financial, investment, tax or legal decision. Past performance is not indicative of future returns. These materials do not take into consideration your personal circumstances, financial or otherwise.
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