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David Bach Reveals Three Keys to Growing a Multi-Billion RIA

The hardest thing to do is bring in a client, AE Wealth Management’s David Bach says.


What a privilege to get a chance to interview a personal friend, who happens to be a world-renowned financial expert and bestselling financial author, David Bach.

On the authorship side, David has penned nine consecutive New York Times bestsellers—the most noteworthy being The Automatic Millionaire, which spent 31 weeks on the NYT’s bestseller list.

On the financial expert side, David helped his father and sister build The Bach Group to over $500 million in assets. He also served as the vice chairman at Edelman Financial Services, helping Ric Edelman grow to $13 billion in assets during his tenure.

After spending over two decades teaching people about finances and how to develop smart strategies on money, David co-founded—and serves as director of investor education at—AE Wealth Management. His industry expertise has helped the firm grow to over $3 billion in assets in less than two years.

And finally, David is, well, a media star. He’s appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show six times to talk about finance, and he’s a regular on ABC, CBS, Fox, CNN, Yahoo, The View, PBS and many others. 

Watch David describe his journey to becoming a guest on the Oprah Winfrey show.

David’s “A-Ha” Moment That Changed His Life

Young David grew up “in the financial business.” His father was a financial advisor—back when they were called “stock brokers”—and he built a successful solo practice ($100 million in assets), but this early influence didn’t instill an inherent passion for financial advising. Young David actually thought his dad’s career was “cool, but boring.”

Right out of college, David went into real estate, and did well. However, he always found himself teaching his real estate colleagues how to invest.

David’s father would hear about this, and subsequently encourage his son to give financial advising a try. “I think you might like it,” he told David.

Dad was right.

David joined his father and loved the financial business. He eagerly jumped in and started helping grow the business, finding that the investment education classes he offered were particularly well-received.

One class in particular led to David’s “a-ha” moment and propelled his destiny: a class about money, specifically aimed at women. (This was in the 1990s, when such offerings were few and far between.)

For the first seminar, 225 women applied. The hotel meeting room was over capacity.

The media reported this story and that’s when David’s destiny teaching classes for women took off.

David’s passion for financial education exploded. His purpose became crystal clear: teach 1 million women about money.   

David’s Proven Strategy (Three Keys to Growing a $1 Billion-Plus Registered Investment Advisor/Asset Management Firm) to Retain Clients for Life 

Any financial advisor can model and scale their business by using this strategy.

The process consists of these three words: trainable, scalable and saleable.

According to David, if you want to scale and sell anything and build it into something really big, you must first be able to train it. If you can train it, you can scale it, and then naturally, scaling it means you can grow it, and then with growth, you can ultimately sell it.

David is quick to point out that “the whole secret is, first of all—the hardest thing in this business to do—is bring in a client. Once you bring in a client, the single most important thing is to do a really good job for them.”

You Do a Really Good Job for Clients by Doing These Three Things:

  1. Educate them on the process. Because an educated client will stay the course.
  2. Call your clients and “hold their hands” when the market crashes. Some advisors panic and get in and out of the market, like their clients.
  3. Run a clean business. This means: do not sell a bunch of garbage products. Run a highly diversified business that has the client’s best interests in mind. Remember, you’re selling a holistic-based plan that factors in the client’s goals and dreams. You’re their retirement coach when they need one.

Click here to watch David Bach share the biggest seminar mistakes made by financial advisors, and learn what David does differently

Why Most Advisors Fail to Reach Assets Under Management in Excess of $50 Million 

According to David, the answer is not complicated, yet a lot of financial advisors make their business complicated. This leads to a complicated life that stifles business growth.

The people at Edelman are a great example of how a simple financial planning process has led them to attract $16 billion in client assets. Simplicity is what you find.

Many advisors don’t know how to put teams in place. Because they can’t scale their individual productivity, they hit a ceiling and don’t last. Nobody wants to buy them. So, if you’re running a high commission business, but it’s not clean and there’s no residual income that someone else can smoothly take over, that business is not salable.

Most advisors have their own retirement goals, right? And that usually involves retiring before the age of 70. Their clients usually want to retire before they turn 70, so it’s natural for the average advisor to have a similar goal.

So, whatever your age—even if you are 59 years old (that’s the average advisor age right now)—you still have plenty of time left to create processes in your business, build them in a trainable way, with the end goal to make your business scalable and salable. If you follow these clear steps, you can develop a business that is appealing to a potential buyer.

You want to make sure your business is professionally managed with a team in place. Your business needs to have a duplicatable process. On the investment side, you really need to be using institutional-level due diligence to build your portfolios.

These are the practices you can put in place now that will lead to a multigenerational firm or a firm you can sell.

This will make both your clients’ and  your retirement that much sweeter.

There’s plenty more fantastic advice and wisdom in this interview with David Bach. You can watch or listen to the entire interview to pick up additional tips on how to build a $1 billion RIA.


Brad Johnson, vice president of advisor development for Advisors Excel, mentors a small group of the country’s most elite financial advisors. Find more episodes of The Elite Advisor Blueprint podcast at

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