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ACP Secrets: Unique Advice and Insights from ACP Members


In many ways, ACP member-owned financial planning firms operate very differently than traditional financial planners. 

As such, members often have unique tips and insights to share based on experience with ACP’s fee-only holistic planning model. 

In a recent webcast, we covered some ACP secrets, tips, and tricks that non-members might not know about, along with some of the unique benefits that come with ACP membership. Our panel of members shared insights and advice based on their experience as ACP members and owners of their own practices.

1. Tax Focus Adds Value for Clients

One of the most significant differences between ACP members and other financial advisors is a tax focus and an emphasis on tax planning and preparation. Most ACP members offer robust tax planning services, and many also provide in-house tax preparation.

Panelists shared that, especially for most clients, it’s much easier to add value on the tax planning and investment sides. Tax planning and preparation are also highly valued by the client, and combining the two means that your firm is a one-stop-shop for the client’s tax needs. 

By offering comprehensive financial planning services that include tax preparation and planning you become an indispensable resource for your client.

2. Fee-Only Advising Builds Trust

Another area where ACP members often differ from other financial advisors is their unique fee-only, retainer-based pricing model. Clients typically work with advisors annually and pay one flat fee based on their income, net worth, and the complexity of their financial situation.

Not only does this approach help reduce some of the conflicts of interest that can come with managing a client’s portfolio, it also builds trust with clients. Because they know exactly how much they’ll be paying and how you make your money as an advisor they can be confident that your advice is unbiased and in their best interest every step of the way.

While there are many benefits to fee-only advising, setting your own rates and maintaining profitability can be challenging without getting advice and insight from other existing firms. 

That’s where ACP comes in again: they provide a wealth of resources that help advisors set fair rates for both the firm and clients.

3. Mentorship and Community Are Critical

Many financial advisors are sole proprietors, operating firms by themselves. Others have small teams of people working for their firms. In either situation, ACP membership enables advisors to access an experienced and supportive group of peers to come to for advice and bounce ideas off of.

One panelist shared the value of joining a peer group within ACP. This group has been tremendously valuable and has contributed to the growth and success of his business. The group typically meets twice a year. There, members receive honest, candid, and experienced peer feedback from other members in similar situations. Because all of the advisors in the group subscribe to the ACP method, they are uniquely able to look inside each of their peers’ businesses and identify strengths, opportunities, and challenges.

The many commonalities that ACP members share mean that they can move straight to discussing the most important and impactful things about each other’s firms. 

At the same time, however, ACP also harbors incredible diversity. There’s a lot of variety between different practices, which means that advice from ACP strikes an outstanding balance between understanding the needs and perspectives of other member advisors while also providing new perspectives and fresh ideas and insights.

4. Work-Life Balance is Incredibly Important

When it comes to financial planning, it can sometimes feel for advisors like the more you work, the more successful your practice will be. However, one panelist stressed that this isn’t always the case. Work-life balance is a vital part of growing a practice.

One reason why work-life balance is so significant is straightforward: if you get enough time out of the office, the time that you do spend in the office will be more productive and energized. 

Focusing on balance can enable you to become more efficient and more effective in your practice. Developing these efficiencies also means giving the client 100% and helping them reach their goals while also fulfilling your personal goals outside of work.

Walking the walk when it comes to work-life balance also helps you give your clients balanced advice. Emphasizing a client’s personal goals, rather than focusing solely on finances, can help you to gain a deeper understanding of their situation, form a lasting relationship, and build a plan that is fine-tuned to their specific needs and wants.

5. You Should Always Be Planning for the Future

For a profession so focused on planning other people’s futures, it can be easy to lose track of your own goals for the future as a business owner. One panelist emphasizes the importance of keeping future plans for your business in mind. To make sure your practice is where you want it to be now and in the future, it’s a good idea to continually envision what you want your firm to look like two, three or five years out and plan accordingly.

Planning for the future can also help you realize what changes you need to make for your business to fit your needs. Whether you want to expand rapidly and need to hire extra help, or are looking to retire in the future and want to transition your practice to another owner, or just want to tweak your day-to-day operations to fit your goals better, visualizing the future can help you to be proactive about shaping your business to meet your needs.

6. The ACP Method Results in High Client Confidence

Throughout the panel, one comment came up again and again: clients love the ACP method. Not only is the pricing structure simple and easy to understand, but ACP also provides a great platform to help advisors take care of people.

The ACP method is so successful that it even transcends individual firms. One panelist explained that when she purchased two existing ACP forms and merged them, the transition was simple and painless for existing clients. Because the processes were essentially the same, the fundamentals and the way they thought about financial planning were the same; clients knew what to expect and understood that they would be cared for.

ACP also gives you a vocabulary for talking about the value you bring as a financial advisor. As an advisor, you can pinpoint exactly how you are helping the client and work with them side by side to help them achieve their financial goals.

Becoming an ACP Member

If you’re interested in fee-only, tax-focused, comprehensive financial planning, becoming a member of ACP can help your dreams become a reality. 

With a supportive community of like-minded peers, comprehensive resources, and expert advice and mentorship from established advisors, new advisors often find that ACP membership is invaluable for the success of their business. Get in touch with us today to learn more!

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