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Michael Kitces' #FASuccess Podcast: Jessica Hovis Smith on Creating Buy-In at an Employee-Owned Advisory Firm

Longview Financial Advisors President Jessica Hovis Smith details the succession plan she oversaw to transition ownership of two merged lifestyle practices into a single employee-owned, multigenerational firm.



My guest on today's podcast is Jessica Hovis Smith. Jessica is the President of Longview Financial Advisors, an RIA with offices in Gadsden and Huntsville, Alabama that manages $194M for 199 clients.

What's unique about Jessica, though, is that she oversaw a succession plan that sought to transition ownership of two merged lifestyle practices into a single employee-owned, multigenerational firm, navigating multiple transitions along the way to eventually arrive at a valuation that both internal buyers, and the founders who were selling, felt was fair.

In this episode, we talk in depth about how Jessica's firm structured their purchase to ensure that new owners both understood the company culture and had a better chance of remaining with the firm throughout their careers, how Jessica and her firm were able to find local banks to finance smaller buy-ins from employees for shorter durations, versus industry banks that were only interested in larger, one-time transactions, and why the actual process used to arrive at Jessica's firm valuation turned out to be a bigger contributing factor to getting everyone's buy-in rather than the final valuation number itself.

We also talk about why Jessica's firm makes a clear distinction between the firm's financial planning and wealth management services, with each department having their own separate teams even though most clients receive both services, how Jessica incorporates philanthropic planning into her practice (and why she decided she wanted to work with clients with a "giver's heart" in the first place), and the realization Jessica had that, although the firm operates, markets, and hires to serve a philanthropic niche, it’s still OK that not every client who walks through the door absolutely must fit her ideal client avatar perfectly.

And be certain to listen to the end, where Jessica shares her own journey through Longview, starting off as an unpaid intern while in an undergraduate financial planning program, and then progressing from being an associate planner, to eventually becoming the Director of Financial Planning, before assuming the role of President, the challenges Jessica surmounted as she took over as the leader of the firm, transitioning from a boots-on-the-ground implementor to a visionary and ultimate decision-maker, and how Jessica has communicated with her own clients that, while she will continue to serve them, another planner on her team will assume the day-to-day activities for their accounts as Jessica takes on more of her leadership duties to guide the firm into the future.

So whether you’re interested in learning about how Jessica and Longview transitioned to an employee-owned firm, how the sellers and buyers arrived at a valuation they could both agree on, or how Jessica integrates philanthropic planning in her practice, then we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast, with Jessica Hovis Smith.

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