It takes a certain type of financial advisor who can successfully work with clients who own their own businesses.
“There are so many wonderful financial planners but so few of them do business financial planning,” says Karl Frank, a planner and founder of A&I Financial Services in Englewood, Colo., who specializes in entrepreneurial clients. While they have much in common, Frank and other planners point out, planners and business owners also would seem to be a poor mix.
“It might just be that financially we [planners] err on diversification and being conservative and entrepreneurs are diametrically opposed to that,” Frank says. “They can lose their wealth in making concentrated bets. Or, it might be that business owners are famous for not listening to advice.”
The sort of planner who is individualistic and entrepreneurial may find he or she relates easily to these clients. However, it’s well known in the industry that the skills needed to provide good personal financial planning advice are not the same ones needed to run a profitable and growing business.
Cameron Thornton, founder of Cameron Thornton & Associates in Burbank, Calif., found that serving as a naval officer early in his career provided a strong background for his work with entrepreneurs.
“The thing that I learned as a naval officer was I was put in a position of authority,” Thornton recalls. “I was completely responsible for completion of the mission. That’s factually no different than a business owner being responsible. I could not pass the buck. Obviously, I couldn’t do it all myself. I was responsible for building my team and coaching my team.”
When he first went into business offering financial advice, Thornton believes his navy experience gave him a 10-year advantage over the competition.
For example, he used and still uses motivational strategies that are common in a military setting and less so in the world of financial services.
“I came up with sayings like, ‘When you came to the top of the hill, you keep on climbing’ and ‘There are no problems only challenges,’” he says. “For so many of these business owners it was refreshing because so many other financial advisors had excuses, but I took responsibility.”
In other words, planners with an entrepreneurial mindset are likely to be the best match for clients who think the same way.