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Michael Kitces' #FASuccess Podcast: Reese Harper Talks Elements

Reese Harper of Dentist Advisors explains his Elements financial planning process, which boils down a client’s situation into 12 key metrics.



Welcome back to the 184th episode of Financial Advisor Success Podcast!

My guest on today’s podcast is Reese Harper. Reese is the founder and CEO of Dentist Advisors, an independent RIA based in Salt Lake City  that oversees nearly $250 million of assets under management for more than 350 clients. What’s unique about Reese, though, is that his advisory firm doesn’t just have a deep niche in serving dentists, as the name of the firm implies, but that Reese has developed his own unique monthly financial planning process for serving clients and raised capital from outside investors to develop his own technology tools to implement it.

In this podcast, we talk in depth about the Elements financial planning process that Reese has created; how he boils down the client’s financial planning situation into 12 key metrics to track, including their savings rate, their insurance coverage rate, and their personal burn rate; the systematized series of 12 monthly deliverables that Dentist Advisors produces for all of its clients each month, one for each of the 12 financial planning elements; the combination of Salesforce and Conga that Reese’s firm has implemented to increasingly automate the production of its client deliverables; and why Reese thinks the future of financial planning is all about working with clients through an ongoing series of micro-interactions around their financial planning needs.

We also talk about the business of Dentist Advisors itself, how Reese has been able to power the growth of the business with a successful podcast focused into his niche, the combination of AUM fees starting at 1.5% plus subscription fees running from $200 to $700 a month that he charges for his comprehensive service, the ways the firm justifies its fees beyond the portfolio and even traditional financial planning with a focus on helping dentists lift their personal income and the value of their dental practices, and why Reese sees his firm’s approach of charging a premium price for a premium service as sustainable in this modern era of robo advisors and fee compression.

And be certain to listen to the end, where Reese shares why he ultimately decided to raise capital by selling a portion of his advisory firm to outside investors, even though they were already growing successfully, the valuation and terms they were able to get by showing a strong business plan with a high growth rate, the challenges in growing an advisory firm quickly where clients are long-term profitable but short-term expensive to find and onboard, and why Reese isn’t concerned about the fact that with the second recent round of investor capital to accelerate their growth further, he has diluted his own founder ownership below controlling 50% majority.

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