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Michael Kitces' #FASuccess Podcast: How Julia Carlson Let Go of Control to Grow her Business

Out of sheer necessity, Julia Carlson went from lead advisor who ran her own firm to business owner almost overnight. Here's how she did it, and how that helped her company grow.



FAS Ep. 164 - Julia CarlsonWelcome back to the 164th episode of Financial Advisor Success Podcast!

My guest on today’s podcast is Julia Carlson. Julia is the founder and CEO of Financial Freedom Wealth Management Group, a hybrid RIA based in Newport, Oregon, that oversees nearly $300 million of assets under management for almost 1,000 client households.

What’s unique about Julia, though, is the way that an unfortunate car accident that her daughter was in led Julia to transition very quickly from being the lead advisor that ran her own firm to expanding her staff and becoming the business owner of the advisory firm instead, if only out of sheer necessity of finding the time she needed to support her daughter’s recovery, but in a way that allowed the firm to more than quadruple in the eight years since.

In this episode, we talk in-depth about Julia’s journey through her advisory career. From her challenges early on gaining professional credibility as a young female advisor where a prospect once told her she was too pretty to be a financial advisor to the way she got her foot in the door talking to small local business owners about their retirement plans and building wealth outside of their businesses. How reading Dave Ramsey’s “Total Money Makeover” launched Julia’s path towards a more holistic planning-centric approach to clients and the way that she built her client base in the early years with Ramsey’s Endorsed Local Provider referral program, now known as SmartVestor Pro.

We also talk about the transformation that Julia’s business had to go through, almost literally overnight, when she got the call from her own client appreciation event that her daughter had been struck by a drunk driver and was being airlifted to the hospital in critical condition. How the pain of being forced to try to run her business from the ICU while being with her daughter during recovery led Julia to hire a president to take over running the firm on a day-to-day basis, the way that shift ended up allowing Julia’s firm to double in size from $60 million to $120 million just 2 years later, as her time and focus were freed up for growth, and how the firm’s adoption of Gino Wickman’s Entrepreneurial Operating System has allowed the business to run even more efficiently as it more than doubled again over the past several years.

And be certain to listen to the end, where Julia talks about the real-world challenges of trying to let go of having so much control in your business, or as Julia puts it, how to stay in charge even if you’re not in control anymore, the way that she took a hard look at everything that does and doesn’t energize her, from week-to-week, to figure out her own strengths and where she should be focusing her time, and how the hardest thing to do in the end was letting go of client relationships but how, once Julia acknowledged that it was a crucial step, the firm quickly figured out how to create an internal training program to ensure that other advisors would service clients up to Julia’s standards.

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