Our ACP Insights series highlights ACP member advisors and provides a platform for our members to share their ACP experience with prospective members. We hope that hearing from our members will help you decide that the ACP methodology and fee-only comprehensive financial planning approach is right for you.
In a recent episode, we spoke with Steve Cruice who founded Simply Steward in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. He transitioned from a career as a CPA at a large organization to start his own business as a fee-only fiduciary advisor and chose ACP to help him accomplish this goal.
Steve needed help getting started with a financial planning business and was drawn to ACP because of the focus on comprehensive fee-only planning and tax-focused planning. Here are just a few of the ways ACP membership allowed Steve to start and grow his practice.
Accurately pricing services
Before joining ACP, Steve struggled with pricing services accurately and was planning to substantially undercharge his first clients. Using the fee calculator that ACP provides, Steve was able to charge the right amount of money for his services from the start.
This strategy quickly paid off; the firm became profitable in April, after less than a year in business. According to Steve, “If I had started charging what I was planning on charging, I knew that my firm would still probably be another 12 months away from being profitable.”
Accurately pricing services according to industry standards allowed him to stop putting money into Simply Steward and start collecting a salary.
A tried and true planning process
ACP’s established planning process made it easy to get Simply Steward up and running. Rather than reinventing the wheel when it came to financial planning, Steve was able to rely on a tried and true process. He was then able to invest additional time and energy into marketing and customer acquisition.
As Steve notes, “You can be the best planner in the world, but if no one knows you’re there and no one’s coming to you, you can’t help people.” Because Steve already had a plan in place for his business, he was able to focus on getting his name out there and attracting new clients.
Steve also felt confident falling back on a planning process that has been tested by hundreds of advisors and used for decades. According to Steve, he was comfortable relying on ACP’s process because “I knew that this was [...] something that’s been tested, vetted, and adjusted over years.”
The ACP Success Program
After joining ACP and taking advantage of ACP’s online system, Steve still wasn’t sure whether or not ACP’s in-person Success Program was worth the cost. After taking part in the program, however, Steve realized just how valuable it was to get in-person advice and training from a community of experienced mentors and like-minded peers.
During the ACP Success Program, Steve was able to receive training from ACP advisors who had been in the industry for many years. These advisors brought a wealth of background knowledge to the system, including practical applications of the ACP system.
The peer group was another factor that made ACP’s in-person training such a success for Steve. This group of new advisors all went through the same training process together and still keep in touch on a regular basis about how their firms are doing.
The ACP network
Steve also found the ACP network to be extremely valuable. ACP matched him with an advisor with a similar background in targeting business owners. Steve’s mentor still takes time every month to check-in, give advice, and offer strategies for how to improve. As Steve notes, while it’s “easy to be on an island and get stuck when something comes up,” ACP’s extensive network means that you’re never alone and always have someone to turn to for advice.
This network was especially helpful during the startup phase for Simply Steward when other advisors provided regular phone calls along with helpful checklists and recommendations. Shortly after starting his practice, Steve sent out an email to other ACP advisors in Colorado to connect. These advisors were more than happy to take the time to talk to Steve and give him advice and even referrals.
Rather than viewing other advisors as potential competition, members of the ACP network consistently support and encourage their peers. According to Steve, “This group of advisors really cares about other advisors in the group and they really want to see other advisors succeed. Even though we would be considered competitors they didn’t view it that way at all. They were more than happy to help me.”
For Steve and for many new advisors, ACP membership provides many valuable features, including an established planning process, pricing resources, in-person training, and a comprehensive network of mentors and peers. If you’re interested in joining ACP, schedule a call with us today to learn more!