Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. - Albert Einstein

Three key events have shaped how I approach running a financial firm:

 

 

1.  Operating a high-tech business in the 1990s with 80 employees during incredible growth.  

2.  Spending over a decade in the financial industry seeing the good, the bad and the ugly.

3.  Maxims:

 

  • Structure it like a Law Firm or Medical Practice instead of using salaried advisors so Clients are always with the person who knows them.  You cannot systematize relationships.

  • Keep it small -  A bigger team means bigger costs that get passed on to the Client.  Since the assets are held by a third party custodian, there is no threat assets could disappear from a Client's control.  It is a scare tactic big firms use against small, more agile firms. The advantages of directly managing the assets outweigh benefits of size in today's open information world.

  • Never lose sight of the clients that got you started - those first relationships are the most valuable.  Don't forget it.

  • Outsource cautiously - evaluate whether outsourcing a function benefits you or the Client.  If the former, will that cost get passed on to the Client?

  • Keep the costs down - directly manage the assets and don't try to be everything to everyone.  

  • Choose new partners very carefully and vet them for years.  The structure of the Firm can make a difference in the relationship by placing emphasis on cost sharing instead of revenue sharing. The latter can result in a self-destructive, greed-driven time bomb.

 

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