I've been in the workshop, choppin' wood for a year now since launch. So much so that I managed to fly by the official 8.17 public launch anniversary without even so much as a thought. Not until the start of this month, when I take stock of the previous month and chart out the next, did I remember. I'll spare the metaphors and hyperbole, as I think they are often overused and are disserving to the original context. So I'll just state it plainly, I've been grinding it out for my clients and future clients.
Over the last year, the learning curve has been fast and steep. And over the last year, we've continued to expand, get better, and grow. There have been many stumbles and falls, but those are only failures if you do not learn from them and get better.
Losing three clients in a year is tough. When two of them were our highest net-worth clients by a long shot, that's even tougher. Even though I've been in this business for close to a decade, the learning never stops. And not learning from these mistakes is not an option. And no, I'm not afraid to talk about where I have fallen short.
What I've learned over the last year has been multi-dimensional. How to run a business, how to market said business, how to be compliant with the regulators, how to work with business partners, how to work with clients, how to truly think like a business owner, how to make business decisions, but most importantly, how to have the right relationship with yourself. The old saying of you being your worst enemy is and continues to be a lesson learned many times over. And it's something you can only learn by doing.
On the business side, FWM today looks far different than what it did a year ago. And one of the best things about that is there was no way I could have forecast these changes, improvements, and growth. There was no way I could have forecast that a company named Zoe Financial would have reached out to me in September of '20, proclaiming that they are the market leader in matching clients with the right advisor. Through my skepticism, I made a business decision, and they turned out to be right and later raised a $10M Series A Venture round from the Softbank Opportunity Fund.
There was no way I could have forecast that after partnering with the BlackRock Institutional Research and Portfolio Strategy Team, they would later come to be ranked #1 in advisor-managed portfolio strategies by Morningstar and given a Gold Star review.
There was no way I could have forecast that the XY Planning Network, which has been instrumental in starting up and running FWM, would have added on a ten-person CPA Team to leverage for in-house tax planning, preparation, and filing services for my clients.
There was no way I could have forecast meeting an integrated Estate Planning group out of Granite Bay, California, called Helios. Now I'm able to coordinate and drive a tailored estate planning experience for our clients.
Again, there was no way I could have forecast meeting and partnering with a company named BizEquity who are experts in business valuation. Now, we can provide accurate business valuations to our small to medium-sized business owners - a largely overlooked yet critically important aspect of a business owner's wealth plan and strategy.
No, there was no way I could have forecast these developments. And honestly, that is the most exciting part. When I started out on this journey, I had but a vision. There was no playbook, only my past experience to guide me and an intuitive sense that there was a better way to build a wealth management firm from the ground up to serve the next generation of wealth generators. This sense has brought me into unchartered waters, and learning to navigate the uncertainty that comes with the territory has been a challenge. However, now, it propels me.
I'm excited to see how things evolve and change over the next year (and beyond), as I'm positive there will be more change that I could not have forecast. It's probably the only thing that is guaranteed - after all, change is the only constant. And as Darwin taught, yet remains commonly misunderstood, it is not the fittest that survives, but the most adaptable to change.
What I'm even more excited about are the people I get to work with - current and future clients. That's what drives me. That's what gets me out of bed every morning at 6:00 am. I know there is a better way, both from what we have been doing for current clients and what we can do for future clients. And those are the wins that really matter. Those are the differences that move the needle. At the end of the day, that is the only thing that counts. And I'm excited that there is no way to forecast that, but I know it will make all the difference. It may be our start of year 2, but we're only getting started!