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Reflections From 2018

When I first started to write this blog, I remember hearing Barry Ritholtz say he writes for an audience of one…himself. I have to admit, that is great advice I never followed—I’ve viewed All About Your Benjamins as a way to communicate/educate and hopefully one day grow my business. Because of this, I have always written with an audience beyond myself in mind.

Today, I write for myself but share it on here for two main reasons:

1. Accountability

2. The off chance something I’ve learned or realized might benefit someone else.

This is not an exhaustive list; there are a number of other lessons, realizations, and experiences I could have included, but this list includes the ones that were most impactful for me.

The Year Of Connections

Over the last 12 months, I’ve made an insane amount of connections from all over–financial planning, investment, FinTech, and other communities; I’m not even going try to give everyone a shoutout because the list would be too long, and I’d feel horrible if I forgot anyone.

These new connections have come from a variety of sources; I’ve had advisors reach out to me, I’ve reached out to advisors, and I’ve had introductions from others. I’ve enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people, learn new things, strengthen existing relationships, and form what I believe will be life-long friendships. I don’t know what the future holds for these new connections and relationships, but I do know I will continue to find the time to talk with anyone willing to share their time.

Why should you consider carving out time on your calendar to talk with your “competition”?

Well first, it’s narrow-minded to view your peers as competition; there are more than enough people who need our advice. Your professional peers are more like colleagues than the competition–most of us are in this for the same reason, to help people make good financial decisions and reach their goals. We’re fighting the same fight. Missing out on the opportunity to learn from another advisor because you’re concerned they might steal your clients or your trade secrets is a mistake. You have far more to gain than lose, trust me.

Second, had I kept to myself and not taken the time to meet other advisors I wouldn’t have my monthly “study group”, which consists of a group of advisors on their way to wild success, a weekly Friday morning video chat with two advisors turned close friends, a standing every 6 weeks call with an advisor I highly respect and have so much to learn from, and hopefully, an annual dinner with a mentor. All of this started with small interactions on Twitter and has expanded beyond anything I could have imagined.

I’m having fun, I’m learning a lot, I’m building a network of peers to lean on when needed, and it all just feels right–so I’m going to keep it going.

Change In Vision—From Founder To CEO

I try to keep my firm, RLS Wealth Management, and everything All About Your Benjamins independent—my goal for AAYB is to share content, educate, and have fun—all without plugging my company; if a reader wants to work with me, it’s not hard to find RLSWM.

That being said, I do want to share one RLSWM note.

When I first started RLSWM I wanted to create a company that would allow me to have close relationships with my clients, provide a high level of service to them, and have the balance between family and work that I desire. Until 2018, I believed that could only be accomplished by containing growth and having a “lifestyle” practice. For those not familiar with a lifestyle practice, it entails identifying a number of clients that can be serviced with a small staff and capping growth; by maintaining a smaller firm, it allows for the advisor to have more flexibility with their time and meet other lifestyle goals…not a bad business model at all.

I also believed growth meant sacrifices in areas I’m not willing to sacrifice; I will not sacrifice my relationships with clients, the level of service they receive, or the ability to spend a lot of time experiencing life with my family for growth.

I’ve learned this is not necessarily the case.

Thanks to encouragement and insight from other advisors, I’ve realized I can build RLS Wealth Management into a bigger firm, impact more lives by helping more clients, and create a culture attractive to other advisors needing a better firm to do what they love. This can be done without sacrificing my family or client relationships. Don’t get me wrong, there will be sacrifices, but not in the two most important areas–and if I see either area slipping I’ll be quick to pump the breaks.

I’m entering 2019 with a renewed focus of positioning RLS Wealth Management as a firm to know and respect, growing its brand first in my hometown, Fishers, Indiana. Then to Indianapolis. And then beyond.

Realistically, this is a long-term plan, but thanks to 2018 it begins in 2019.

I Want To Speak More

I’ve always enjoyed public speaking–growing up I think I was one of the few people who actually enjoyed getting up in front of the class to present;  In 2018, I had the opportunity to speak at conferences twice, and I loved every second of it.

The first, at EBI West, allowed me to share the stage with, well be on the same stage as, many of the FinTwit contributors I admire the most. Initially, the thought of participating on a panel in front of a room full of people I look up to was a little intimidating, but as soon as I was mic’d up and sitting in my chair it felt natural—I don’t know if I came across that way, but the nerves left immediately.

The second, at XYPN Live, was a roundtable, and much to my surprise, it was standing room only. For over an hour I led (maybe dominated) a conversation about why financial advisors should consider creating their brand legacy and sharing with everyone. I’m all-in on creating content to educate and share who I am as a person and financial advisor, so it was a blast to get to talk with other advisors interested in doing the same. As I shared with them, being a smaller independent financial advisor gives them the flexibility to do things larger firms can’t, and creating a loyal following through sharing content, aside from referrals, is the best way to grow—it’s the way of the future.

I’m in the process of finishing up a presentation built off the foundation of that conversation to take on the road in 2019.

The Value of Processes And Workflows

Prior to hiring my Director of Operations, I had processes and workflows, but I rarely followed them–it was just me after all. But, once I hired Darlene and there was someone else whose productivity would rely on mine, I quickly saw the benefit of having systems.

Luckily, creating processes and workflows and holding me accountable to following them is one of Darlene’s strengths, and the efficiency of RLSWM has already improved tenfold. The processes and workflows we’ve created will continue to be improved, more will be created, and they will all play a huge part in the growth I described above.

Content Wins

Without a doubt, content is king and will be one of the main driving factors behind my growth goals. Luckily, I enjoy creating content and in 2018 I added a podcast, videos, and an Alexa flash briefing skill to the mix—I’ll continue to add as more opportunities to share become available.

Advisors, or any business for that matter, underestimating the value of creating original content (original being the keyword) will find themselves being passed up by those communicating via blogs, videos, podcasts, etc. I’m not saying content creation is the only way to grow, but I do think it is one of the best ways to attract clients who are a good fit for your business and 2018 only solidified this belief.

There are other benefits for creating content, but I’ll save that for my presentation. Just know I’ll continue to make content a priority and finding time for it…it’s non-negotiable. After all, as my good friend Douglas Boneparth says, “Content wins!”

I Still Have A Long Way To Go

Despite feeling as if I had some success in 2018, I still have a long way to go…it’s all just a work in progress.

Some of 2018’s Best:


Disclaimer: Nothing on this blog should be considered advice, or recommendations. If you have questions pertaining to your individual situation you should consult your financial advisor. For all of the disclaimers, please see my disclaimer page.

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