Jim Davis CFP®, EA, Partnership Financial
I understand the great value of working with an ACP member, having been a client of a fellow ACP member since 2002. I had been working in unrelated field. I was part owner of a small business that provided “leads” to other small business owners, mostly insurance agents. The work was dull, mind-numbing, and not satisfying.
In short, I needed a change. I had always been interested in personal finance. At a particular meeting with my advisor several years ago, I mentioned my dissatisfaction with my career and that I wanted to pursue a career in financial planning. So, my advisor and I set up a game plan to make this happen.
After taking the CFP® classes and passing the certification exam I met my advisor for lunch to ponder my next move. I knew I wanted to do fee-only planning. Should I start my own practice? Should I try to pursue a position with an established firm? I was putting the cart before the horse. My advisor prodded me to first figure out what type of clientele I wanted to work with - high net worth or middle income, for example.
It was at this point I realized that I wanted to work with people like myself - folks in “Middle America.” I also liked the idea of starting my own business, so I barraged my planner with questions about the ACP model and began to research if ACP would be a good fit for me.
The more questions I asked and the more research I completed, it became apparent that the ACP System™ would be a natural progression for my career, even though I was changing careers and new to the financial planning world. Particularly, what attracted me to ACP was the following:
- Using a proven model to advise clients
- Providing clients with comprehensive planning and not just managing assets
- Being a business owner
- Accessing the support of the ACP community - staff and other planners
- Receiving guidance on how to start a practice - setting up an office, attracting clients, practice efficiencies
- Training in ACP financial planning techniques that is specialized and comprehensive
For me, the most important benefit of being an ACP member is the fact that you are part of a tight-knit community where your fellow planners will bend over backwards to help out one another, especially the new advisors. I like the idea of being a business owner, but also knowing that help is a phone call away is very reassuring.
Plus, ACP advisors come from a wide variety of backgrounds, and many have specialized knowledge across the spectrum of financial planning - estate planning, tax preparation and planning, and insurance, for example. It is very reassuring to know that you can tap into the expertise of fellow advisors.
A tenet of being an ACP member is providing more value to your client than you charge for their retainer. I feel that ACP provides value tenfold for what I paid to start with ACP and the yearly dues.
As of May 2009 I would say that my practice is everything I thought it would be and more. We have been signing up new clients as the economy and stock market have been in turmoil over the last year. I think the increase in client acquisition is actually due to these events. More and more people are taking notice of their finances as they see their investments plummet. In many cases this has been the “spear in the back” to get prospective clients to seek professional advice and work with a qualified financial planner.
I also believe that many consumers are becoming more aware of the “fee-only” concept of financial planning. People want sound, unbiased advice and are tired of being pitched different financial products - mutual funds, life insurance, and annuities, for example - by their so-called “financial advisors” who work on a commission basis.
I firmly believe that the “fee-only” approach is the future of financial planning. The ACP system is a proven model of not only advising middle-income clients in a holistic approach, but also becoming a successful business owner.