Succession planning is a meaningful step for any business owner. For advisors, the ability to find, hire, train, and inspire someone to take over your practice can seem like a daunting task.
We are delighted to bring you a post that delves into the success a couple of our members found when building a succession plan and also seeing it through. Using the ACP System as a foundation for training and building a practice, they found that the community, resources, and education with ACP paved the way for the smooth transition as well as company growth.
The insights in our blog post today come from our webinar series and features ACP member Jacob Kuebler, owner and senior financial advisor at Bluestem Financial.
The path to Bluestem Financial
Jacob wasn’t always the owner of Bluestem Financial. In fact, when he started, the firm wasn’t called that at all. Karen Folk was the founder of Folk Financial Advisors and hired Jacob as an intern after he received his undergraduate degree from the University of Illinois.
A graduation date of 2008 didn’t make for an easy jump start to Jacob’s financial career, but he felt fortunate to work with Karen and learn the ropes of the financial planning profession. Karen founded a lifestyle planning practice, something that Jacob was inspired to see. She was also a member of ACP and implemented its tenets to build and sustain her practice.
When Jacob came on, he served as a paraplanner, diligently preparing and taking notes during client meetings and lightening some of the load off Karen’s shoulders. After seeing the care, value, and impact that Karen brought to every client interaction, Jacob knew he was pursuing the right career path. He later worked for his CFP designation and after passing the exam, enrolled in the ACP Success Program.
Why enroll in the ACP Success Program?
With Karen being an active ACP member, she felt it vital that Jacob embark on the same training if he were to eventually own the practice. Folk Financial Advisors was built on the methods and philosophy of ACP, and Karen wanted to ensure those core values remained intact. Luckily for her, Jacob became just as passionate about ACP as she was.
While Jacob had a baseline understanding of ACP, his formal training helped solidify and enliven his excitement for the process. He learned so many valuable lessons, such as:
- Build a deeper understanding of how to serve clients on a comprehensive basis. The best ways to talk to clients about the value this approach brings to them, and ultimately how to sell services. As a young advisor, Jacob appreciated the resources, training, and education on the best ways to speak to all types of clients and clearly demonstrate how he can serve them.
- How to market himself to prospects.
- Creating a cohort of people. The camaraderie he felt with other new members gave him a sense of peace and belonging, something that novice and veteran advisors cite as their favorite part of the ACP community.
After completing the ACP Success Program, Karen and Jacob discussed succession planning more seriously. They became business partners and changed the name from Folk to Bluestem Financial, paving the way for growth and value in the future.
This new vision meant that they needed to grow, and ACP proved to be instrumental in that process. Many smaller firms are hung up on determining the best way to host and structure meetings, finding and vetting the right tools, and determining how all of these pieces work together.
But ACP was an out-of-the-box system. From the start, they had the resources they needed to successfully run meetings and operate the business. This meant that they were able to get their names out there and focus on growth without getting bogged down with the systems and processes. Instead of building mechanics, they found new clients.
ACP as an integral component of succession planning
When Karen retired in 2016, Jacob took over the business and continued down the path of growing and scaling for the future. As he brought on new advisors, he had each of them go through the ACP Success Program to keep the company true to its roots and build a lasting institution.
Eight years after interning for Karen, Jacob owned the practice and helped build its reach from 35 clients to over 130. The team also increased overall revenue from about $200,000 to over $1.6 million. Jacob credits ACP as a fundamental component in that growth journey.
The philosophical underpinnings of ACP run through the practice, and Jacob is thrilled to provide comprehensive, holistic wealth building services to his clients every day while also growing a profitable business.
A fundamental position of ACP’s system is an emphasis on tax planning. Taxes impact every aspect of a client’s finances, from income planning to retirement planning to insurance to estate planning, and more. Jacob knows this niche has provided immense value in the firm’s service offerings. It also distinguishes them from other firms, while allowing them to address this client pain point.
Another crucial way ACP helped Jacob develop the practice was the modular approach to planning. Most financial professionals will take a look at a client’s goals, priorities, and financial statements and make numerous recommendations right upfront. ACP believes in prioritizing and taking recommendations one step at a time so as not to overwhelm clients and keep them on track to reach their goals.
Since everyone on the Bluestem team are members of ACP, they have the same philosophy and values tying them together. The client, therefore, gets a more cohesive experience.
ACP isn’t just helpful for solo advisors. Our methodology can also help firms grow and thrive for generations to come. How can you apply the ACP system to your succession plan? Set up a time to talk to one of our team members today.