Marguerita: Chris, thank you for taking the time to speak with Blue Ocean Global Wealth. What gets you up in the morning?
Chris: Shaun T for a little Insanity workout. The opportunity to make the world a little better place every day – through thoughtful planning and collaboration – excites me and gets me going.
Marguerita: Why did you start Elite Advisor Consulting (http://www.eliteadvisorconsulting.com) ?
Chris: Starting Elite was the natural progression of my career and desire to help the financial advisory community. I started in the financial services industry wholesaling for some of the largest insurance companies in the world (Hartford, ING, and Jackson National). I then founded an investment distribution company in 2002 after recognizing the need to be more consultative within my closest advisory relationships. I wanted to get away from pushing a product and be a true distribution consultant and find the best product for my advisors given their unique situations. When my products where falling during the financial crisis in ’08, I started heading up business development for a hybrid financial services firm. Similar to starting my own distribution company, I found that I needed to put myself in an independent unbiased position to give the best possible scenario for the advisors I was serving,
Marguerita: What makes Elite unique?
Chris: Attention to detail and an acute focus on the needs of my clients. Understanding where clients want to go underpins every relationship. Understand why a transition is taking place. At Elite, we prioritize the relationship and listen to the rationale for making a major life change. After assessing the situation from several angles, we maintain confidentiality and anonymity when exploring and assembling possible solutions for our clients.
Marguerita: How do you measure success at Elite Advisor Consulting?
Chris: Measuring success is pretty simple. If I help an advisor throughout a transition and they end up in a better situation, then I have succeeded. My goal is to manage the expectations during a transition and assist that advisor on how to avoid the many landmines that routinely derail transitions. Elite applies President Lincoln’s philosophy of ‘I may walk slowly, but I never walk backwards.”
Marguerita: What does is it mean to be an independent advisor?
Chris: Independence is different for every advisor. Independence can be leaving a wirehouse, to starting your own RIA, to running your own OSJ. We operate in a snowflake business. From afar, just like snowflakes, advisory practices may look similar. However, it’s not until you really get in there and understand what they are trying to accomplish and lift up the proverbial hood, that you get a feel for how unique their practice truly is.
Marguerita: What is a contingency plan and why do I need one?
Chris: Contingency planning is a necessity for each and every financial planning firm. In its simplistic form, a contingency plan allows for the continuation of your practice should something unexpected arise in your life that denies you the ability to continue to serve your clients.
Marguerita: Chris, when helping clients Elite may engage a conversation around Time, Money, and Fun. What do you mean that?
Chris: My biggest objective is to get to the root of the pain for the advisor. Once you find out “the why” an advisor is making a transition, you can guide them in a path of fulfillment. What is an advisor looking for – more TIME to spend with family or clients or travel, more MONEY to be able to provide for your family or create a legacy, or more FUN to get back to what you love doing.
Marguerita: Chris, please describe your consulting process.
Chris: My process and approach resembles that of a sports agent. I develop a report with the financial advisor and prioritize truly understanding where they are in their career. Once I understand where they are, I invest the necessary time with each of my clients to see where they want to go in this business. When there is a clear vision of the future, we provide the advisor with a few options that match what they are looking for. Once we decide on a firm, we map out the transition to eliminate the stumbling blocks that can derail a successful transition.
Marguerita: What are the most significant obstacles that advisors encounter when making a successful transition?
Chris: The biggest issue that most advisors have is in the prep work leading up to pulling the trigger. I often relate our methodical engagement process to the Dr. Benjamin Franklin aphorism: Diligence is the mother of good luck. Many advisors are not sure of what they can and cannot take with them as far as the client information goes. Then you have the previous firm typically sending out a cease and desists letter trying to scare you away from contacting your clients. Other than that, the biggest obstacle is managing the advisor expectations throughout the transition.
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