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 is right for you.
In a recent episode, we spoke with Ross Schmidt, a financial planner with over twenty years of experience. While based in Colorado, Ross has clients from all over the country, from Maryland to Hawaii and everywhere in between. Ross has been an ACP member for over two decades and shared with us some of the benefits of ACP membership that have helped make his practice so successful.
Before embarking on a career as a financial planner, Ross was a sales manager for a computer company in New York City, selling computers to Wall Street firms. He wanted to start a business of his own and was interested in pursuing a new career as a financial planner.
Before making the leap to a new career, Ross drew up a list of things he wanted to do as a financial planner and how he wanted to design his practice. For example, he knew he wanted to run a fee-only practice, with an emphasis on a holistic approach to financial planning.
While searching online, Ross came across ACP and was surprised by just how well ACP matched his own vision of what an approach to financial planning should entail. According to Ross, he was “stunned” that the list he had made for his new business “exactly matched what ACP does.”
Since joining ACP, Ross has been able to take advantage of the many benefits that the organization has to offer for its member advisors. Ross is an active member of ACP’s community of advisors to this day.
The ACP Success Program
One of the cornerstones of ACP membership is the ACP success program. This program features a holistic training method that exposes new financial advisors to a broad spectrum of financial planning issues, from investment to tax preparation and everything in between.
The training program is instructor-led by ACP members who have their own practices. These instructors are able to provide detailed, real-world examples and advice for members who are just starting out in their careers.
The success program consists of a mix of virtual classrooms and live sessions. As Ross mentions, one of the most valuable parts of the program is the ability to participate in “a community of like-minded financial advisors” who are able to encourage and support one another.
In addition to the personalized training, ACP membership also gives members access to an extensive selection of tools and resources developed by ACP advisors. These tools cover everything from accurately pricing services to providing added value to customers.
The ACP Process
Another benefit to joining ACP is the ability to model your practice based on the tried and true ACP process. This process includes all elements of financial planning, including tax preparation and tax planning, investment strategy and recommendations, insurance, estate planning, and more.
Rather than solely focusing on investments, ACP prioritizes a comprehensive financial planning approach that incorporates all aspects of personal finance, from preparing taxes to setting personal goals for the future.
Ross emphasizes that the goals meeting is an especially important part of the ACP process. Rather than starting with a goals meeting up front, he recommends including the goals meeting in the middle of the planning process.
According to Ross, this is an ideal timetable “because you’ve gained trust with clients and they will share more of their hopes and dreams, as opposed to the first appointment, where the client has trusted in you enough to sign up, but they don’t really know how you operate.”
The ACP Community
As Ross notes, “people say that you come to ACP for the training, and you stay with ACP for the community.” The ACP community is one of the defining features of ACP membership. Members have access to a supportive, experienced community of peers who are always willing to lend a hand and share expertise when it comes to challenging financial planning topics.
Even the most experienced financial planners may not be skilled in all areas of financial planning. When your client has a problem that you’re unfamiliar with, you can turn to a community of over 180 individuals with strengths in different areas. For example, Ross notes that “when I have a real thorny tax issue, I know where I can go to ask that question.”
ACP membership also comes with access to an extremely active internal discussion forum where members can ask questions and seek recommendations. It’s not uncommon to receive immediate answers to your questions in just a few hours—or even a few minutes!
Whether you’re just starting out in your career as a financial planner, or you want to deepen and expand your knowledge of comprehensive financial planning, membership with ACP can give you access to the tools you need to make your practice a success. In addition to the ACP Success Program and the supportive ACP community, members also have access to plenty of useful templates, tools, and webinars so that they can continue to learn. If you’re interested in joining ACP, schedule a call with us today to learn more!