Robert Walsh has always loved getting into the nuts and bolts of the numbers when it comes to finance. In college he found himself drawn to accounting because he liked the concrete math of it, the certainty. “There was nothing subjective about accounting, nothing open to interpretation—either the numbers added up or they didn’t,” he says. After going into public accounting for a few years, he had the chance to shift course and work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. It was a great time to be there; the internet was fueling a stock market boom and every day was busy. “It was like working in a beehive,” Robert says.
Though the stock exchange had that buzz of excitement, for someone like Robert who’d worked on international taxes and done trips around the world, the day-to-day routine became monotonous. He knew it was time for a change. He considered becoming a commission-based advisor, but the model didn’t resonate with him. The cold calling and sales didn’t interest him, plus he knew how inflated some of the commission-based products were. Instead, he decided to join the tax department of a financial planning firm.
With his background in taxes and his experience in stocks, Robert was building the ideal foundation to become a planner, but it wasn’t until he discovered Bert Whitehead’s ad in a finance journal that things fell into place. He read about the fee-only model and realized it was exactly what he’d been looking for. In the spring of 1999, he flew out to meet with Bert for two days and found the perfect business model for what he wanted to do.
“It was a little bit hard to explain to my new bride that I’d just handed over $12,000, but having ACP behind me in those first years was instrumental,” Robert says. He connected with a mentor, ACP member Ted Roman, and found the structure of the Success Program to be just what he needed. “I didn’t tweak anything. I stuck to the plan and followed the script ACP gave me,” he says. It paid off. Soon he found his practice growing naturally. “It was a great time to be in fee-only planning,” he says.
From the beginning, Robert built his practice on client referrals. That has allowed him to focus his energy on giving the best possible service to his existing clients. “I’m always thinking about how to serve them better,” he says. “I never go into work thinking I can just sit back; I’m always tweaking and improving.” Robert’s work ethic and interest in the mathematical component gave him the natural edge. “For me the harder the tax return, the better,” he says. He loves digging into a client’s past taxes and finding errors, and he’s discovered that’s what clients get excited about too. “No one gets excited to tell their friends about the index funds they’re invested in, but when they save $5,000 on their taxes, they let people know,” he says.
Over the years, Robert’s practice has continued to grow. He’s taken on additional advisors and staff members to help manage the firm. He credits ACP with laying the groundwork. “There’s no way I’d be where I am today without ACP,” he says. “In some ways I consider it my alma mater.” Robert stays engaged and involved within the community, taking on roles over the years on the marketing committee and serving as chair. He believes wholeheartedly in the organization and appreciates the chance to continue to pay it forward. “Sometimes it can feel like the best-kept secret because we’re all more interested in the work itself than the marketing, but I think we have the best planners in the world,” he says.
For all you do for ACP, thank you, Robert!