ACP is a community of tax-focused financial advisors operating under a unique retainer-based fiduciary business model.
In our ACP Insights series, we discuss the process of creating and operating a successful financial planning practice with ACP members. We hope that hearing from our members will help you decide that the ACP methodology and fee-only comprehensive financial planning are right for you.
On a recent episode of our podcast, we spoke with Laura Rotter, CFA, MBA, CFP®, a financial life planner and founder of True Abundance Advisors.
After 30 years of successfully managing money for some of the country’s biggest institutions, Laura changed lanes to personal planning. In her practice, she guides her clients to align their finances with what matters most in their lives.
Today, we’ll offer a glimpse into Laura’s practice and how the tools, resources, and the ACP community helped her build it.
Institutional Money Management to Financial Life Planning
While Laura is now a successful financial and life planner, she emphasizes that “it was a long journey” to get to where she is today. Her career in finance spanned three decades, during which she worked on Wall Street with institutional investors.
During the first ten years, Laura’s career was exciting and satisfying. During the second decade, Laura raised three children and balanced the concerns of both a career and a family. During the final decade of her career, she found that she was getting less satisfaction from her day-to-day tasks, and felt trapped in a career that no longer made her happy.
Making a Career Change
ACP is home to many career changers, Laura included. The ACP Success Program equips new advisors with the toolkit needed to launch a successful financial planning practice.
While Laura was eager for a career change, she felt that she couldn’t easily change her life, in part due to family and financial responsibilities. However, after developing a yoga and meditation practice, she became determined to set her life on a new course.
After speaking with and interviewing financial advisors, she settled on financial planning as the perfect way to combine her financial knowledge with her new focus on personal growth and development.
Becoming a Financial Advisor
Laura left Wall Street and joined a financial planning practice in 2014. She found that she enjoyed working with her clients, learning individual stories, and seeing how her advice could help make a difference over time.
However, the practice wasn’t fee-only and placed an emphasis on selling products. Laura wanted to go in a different direction and started to explore a retainer-based financial model focused on holistic financial planning instead. This ultimately led her to join ACP and start True Abundance Advisors.
The ACP community is a dynamic group of fee-only financial advisors focused on providing comprehensive planning. The client-first approach at ACP enticed Laura, as that was the type of practice she wanted to pursue. ACP also promotes using a retainer model that keeps costs reasonable for clients and ensures that advisors uphold their fiduciary duty.
Personal Exploration and Personal Finance
Laura prefers to establish a longer client relationship that allows her to really get to know her clients. She acknowledges that she’s “not your typical financial advisor” because of her emphasis on personal exploration and growth.
One reason that ACP promotes a comprehensive approach and retainer-based fee structure is that it better allows advisors to create deeper relationships with their clients. Client’s don’t have to worry about calling their advisor and using up valuable billable hours. Instead, they can feel free to call with questions about their insurance policies, tax return, etc. This was the type of practice Laura wanted to be part of.
So many ACP members value building long-term relationships with clients and a holistic approach to money helps them do that. The ACP training intentionally gives advisors the skills and applications to make their planning comprehensive.
Understanding a Client’s Relationship With Money
With so much fear and anxiety surrounding money and personal finance, it can be an extremely vulnerable process for clients to open up to financial advisors and reveal private details about their lives. Not only can finances be a touchy subject, but they’re often intimately wrapped up in family history and past experiences.
As someone who has had to explore her own relationship with her career, finances, and life priorities, Laura emphasizes, “I want to lead with who I am authentically, which is someone who grapples with the same things.” With this in mind, her practice focuses on clients who are interested in personal exploration as well as financial nuts and bolts.
Several ACP members seek to build profitable lifestyle-focused practices. The rich community support that ACP provided Laura became instrumental as she created her ideal firm.
Building a Plan for the Future
When she takes on a new client, the first meeting is “purely qualitative,” a central tenet of the ACP Success Program. This allows her to get a better sense of her clients’ needs, goals, and relationship with money. Couples interested in financial and personal planning especially benefit from this approach, since it allows them to openly and honestly explore how their attitudes toward money affect their decision-making and communication.
Laura emphasizes that it takes time for clients who are unhappy with the trajectory of their lives to be able to make a change. That said, working with a life planner can help them to understand what resources they have and what steps they should take to live a more intentional life. Working with clients who are committed to making a change allows her to “connect with people on a very deep level about what the meaning of their life is.”
Life and Financial Planning with ACP
Many ACP members focus on life planning as well as financial planning. While each member’s unique approach to financial planning may be different, ACP’s supportive community allows members to build on each other’s strengths.
When asked what the best part of being an ACP member is, Laura is quick to answer that “it’s far and away the people.” By starting ACP with a core group, forming relationships with her peers, and receiving mentorship from more experienced advisors, Laura was able to take advantage of all of the resources that ACP has to offer.
There’s no one path to a financial planning career. Many start out selling investments or insurance products, others come from tax practices, and still, other advisors start out with institutional investors. Professionals may make the switch to financial planning in order to better meet their clients’ needs, or to work with individuals with unique concerns, anxieties, and ambitions.
As Laura emphasizes, “The most important thing is to find some joy in what I do on a daily basis.” No matter where you are in your career as a financial planner, ACP’s supportive community and robust selection of financial planning tools can help. If you’re interested in joining ACP, schedule a call with us today to learn more!