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Michael Kitces' #FASuccess Podcast: Maura Griffin on Using Her Expertise to Grow Her Business

Blue Spark Financial's Maura Griffin details how she used her knowledge regarding college aid planning to jumpstart her RIA.



Welcome back to the 218th episode of the Financial Advisor Success Podcast!

My guest on today’s podcast is Maura Griffin. Maura is the founder of Blue Spark Financial, an independent RIA with offices in New York and Massachusetts that oversees more than $150 million of assets from nearly 90 families, most of whom are either divorced or widowed women making financial decisions on their own for the first time.

What’s unique about Maura, though, is how she built her practice from scratch, not by marketing her financial planning services, but instead by developing a focused expertise in college aid planning and charging high school parents a flat fee of $1,000 to help them with their financial aid planning needs. And in the process, getting paid for her college planning expertise as a pathway to establishing relationships that then could turn into comprehensive planning relationships in the future.

In this episode, we talk in-depth about how the demand for her college aid planning services helped Maura grow to $15 million in AUM by just the first year alone, the way she systematized her financial aid planning presentation deliverables to efficiently serve more than 100 clients in her first year alone. And how those initial financial planning aid engagements led to the realization that what she found most gratifying from a professional perspective was helping women who faced the same challenge as she did as a single woman who was responsible for making all the financial decisions for her family, leading Maura to pivot into working with recently widowed and divorced women as her niche for the past several years.

We also talk about the circumstances that set the stage for Maura’s career-changing transition from journalism and real estate investing into financial planning, why having a financial reserve when she launched her firm was so crucial to give her not only peace of mind and confidence, but the flexibility to build her business with intention from the start without feeling an inordinate amount of pressure to take on any and every prospect she came across. The steps Maura took to manage her time and capacity by implementing account minimums in a waitlist as her practice grew, and how she had to learn to say no at times when the rapid growth of her practice left her feeling overworked and overwhelmed.

And be certain to listen to the end, where Maura shares the challenge of feeling frustrated by not being able to help everybody who was seeking out her help, how that served as a pathway to her understanding what she ultimately wanted and most enjoyed about being a business owner and gave her clarity around the concept of enough, and why Maura has now consciously made the decision to structure her firm as a so-called lifestyle practice.

So whether you’re interested in how Maura started from scratch helping parents with financial aid planning, how she consciously made the decision to build a lifestyle practice after experiencing tremendous early growth, or how she serves single and divorced women who are the primary financial decision-makers for their families, then we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast.

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