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Michael Kitces' #FASuccess Podcast: Andrea Schlapia's Fundamental 4 Pillars of Practice Management

Ironstone's Andrea Schlapia explains why all advisory firms should take one day a month to close their doors to clients and solely work on the business instead of in the business.


Welcome back to the 112th episode of Financial Advisor Success Podcast!

My guest on today’s podcast is Andrea Schlapia. Andrea is the founder of Ironstone, a practice management coaching and consulting firm that works primarily with midsize advisory firms that are struggling with the actual business execution challenges of transitioning from a practice to a business.

What’s unique about Andrea, though, is that she’s built upon her own prior experience as a financial advisor and a practice management consultant to develop what she calls the Fundamental 4 pillars of practice management and has developed tools and strategies to support each of the domains across the four pillars.

In this episode, we talk in depth about Andrea’s Fundamental 4 business framework of strategic planning, business development, operational effectiveness and the human element; how most advisory firms have a natural strength in strategy and business development but may struggle with the operational effectiveness and human element; why Andrea advocates that, ultimately, a firm should take one development day per month when they close their doors to clients and solely work on the business instead of in the business; and why it’s so important to find the time to be ultraselective in how you hire and develop your team in the first place.

We also talked about Andrea’s actual process for conducting interviews with prospective hires. Her four steps of phone screening, in-office interviews, a meeting over a meal and what she calls an office simulation to really test a prospective hire’s skills in a real-world business setting; the assessment tools, including PXT Select and Myers-Briggs, that Andrea uses to evaluate whether a candidate really has the capabilities and personality to be a good fit for the firm; and her approach to doing what she calls not performance evaluations but performance feedback sessions with all team members on a quarterly basis.

And be certain to listen to the end, where why sometimes even A-plus advisors with their clients may still only be C-plus business owners, and how to lift your own business owner and implementation grade by steadily building up the time you’re dedicating to developing your team and working on your own Fundamental 4.

So whether you’re interested in the tools you can use in the interview and onboarding process to make sure you get the right people into the right role at your firm, how to carve out enough time to work on your business instead of in your business or how to make sure to run an intensive interview process efficiently, we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast.

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