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Steve Cruice, CFP®, CPA
"As I recently passed the one-year anniversary of the start of my firm, I truly realized the enormous impact that ACP has had on helping me lay a solid foundation for the future of my business. I wanted to thank all of ACP’s members and share the things that have had such an impact.
1. Understanding Fees - Even though it‘s just one tab of the ACP toolkit, the Fee Calculator was business-changing for me this first year. Before joining ACP, I thought things like, "Well, I'm a new firm, so I'll have to really discount to get people to sign on at first" and "Since some of my first clients will be paying out of cash flow, I can't charge very much." But I stuck to my instructors’ advice to have confidence in my value and in presenting the fee. I don't have a ton of clients after a year, but the firm recently became profitable enough to pay me a small monthly salary and provide some money to invest back in the business. ACP doesn’t tell me what to charge, but they did teach me to value my professional guidance to my clients. Without this, I'd have just as much client work to do now and would be looking at the prospect of feeding the business from personal savings for probably the good part of an entire second year.
2. A Planning Process - I still review the Preliminary and Presentation Meeting chapters and notes before almost every Prelim or Presentation meeting. On a weekly basis, I turn to my Advisor Desk Reference. It would have taken me years to come up with a decent planning process for clients. ACP provides both a planning process and a huge amount of training on the process. Instead of spending countless hours my first year developing processes, I spent countless hours marketing.
3. Great People - I put this last because I want it to be the one that everybody remembers. ACP members share so much and truly seem to care about the success of other members. I am fortunate to be within driving distance of several other ACP members. Each one runs a very successful firm. Each one is extremely busy. They all sat down with me during my first couple of months in the business, let me ask them anything, and all gave great advice. ACP’s Kyle Root helped get me through the initial startup phase and through Group Instruction. Member Ed Fulbright answered my questions prior to my joining ACP. He was very helpful, and once I joined he agreed to be my mentor. He has helped to keep me on track and gives me valuable advice every time we talk. The online member forums are invaluable—where else can you find such a concentration of experienced CPAs, EAs, CFPs, and successful business owners to answer any question you run into? I loved meeting so many members at the last ACP Conference and look forward to meeting even more this fall (and catching up with those I met last year).
Joining ACP has been both business and life-changing. I greatly appreciate all the members. Thank you especially to the board, committee members, and Joanne and team for all they do to run ACP. "
Steven Clark, CFP®, EA
"Your sentiments capture how I felt when joining ACP and still do four years later. I put technology on the back burner and focused on the ACP model and processes, building professional relationships, gaining confidence and focusing on doing the absolutely best I could for every prospect and client. In the beginning, I figured the purchase of additional technology and tools would come naturally over time as I grew my practice. I learned that the set of tools provided by ACP with membership is more than enough to get started. I love the Pyramid because I immediately had something I could use to capture and view prospect and client investments and net worth. Without the Fee Calculator I would not have had any idea what I was worth and what I should charge. Four years in now and I still watch the preliminary and presentation videos prior to meetings to get myself in the right mindset prior to a meeting (just finished watching a video a few minutes ago as I head out to a meeting). I also review the Advisor Desk Reference and the training materials often."
Wendy Marsden, CFP®, CPA, MS
"+1 on all of these, but I'd also add two more things:
4.) Mentoring. I felt really stupid needing this help, but Kathy Dollard setting up regular monthly mentoring calls really really helped me through some bad moments. The actual nitty gritty things that can bug you are really helped by ACP.
5.) The Conference. I have been treating myself to two "fly-away" conferences for the past several years. AICPA, NAPFA, FPA, SRI/ESG... I've been to lots of them. But the ACP conference hits just the right note of useful panels plus (possibly) drunken karaoke.
As it happens, I joined XYPN this past fall, when the allure of the tech suite and the snazzy referral site got too much. It's simply not in the same class in terms of helpfulness.
I set out to "fix my life" by joining ACP, and it totally worked."
Kevin Jacobs, CFP®, EA
"I have been a member for ten years and ACP has helped me grow and sustain my practice. I don't use the tools as much as I used too, however, I am regularly looking up information on the discussion forum. I to have joined XYPN and I plan on going to their conference in September. I joined XYPN mainly for the discounts I got for using the technology and credit card processing service. I joined XYPN for the discounts but my heart is in ACP.
I will be attending the ACP Conference in the Fall as well. I look forward to it. I am just hoping that I don't have to choose between ACP Conference sessions and Cubs World Series games like I did a couple of years ago."
Lawrence Friedrichs, CFP®, CPA
"The "great people" category should also mention the fact that these great people all have the overwhelming desire to serve their clients first. They have the desire to provide the best guidance to real people. Emphasis is not on gathering assets, selling products or beating sales records. This cannot be said about 95% of the financial services industry despite their public rhetoric to the contrary. Financial planning practiced the ACP way would cure most of the personal financial dysfunction that exists in the US today at a fair cost to the recipient."