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Michael Kitces' #FASuccess Podcast: Reliving the Early Days of Independence with Harold Evensky

Harold Evensky wrote the book on holistic goals-based wealth management in 1997.

Welcome back to the 116th episode of Financial Advisor Success Podcast!

My guest on today’s podcast is Harold Evensky. Harold is the co-founder and chairman of Evensky & Katz / Foldes Financial, an independent RIA in South Florida that oversees nearly $3 billion in assets under management.

What’s unique about Harold, though, is that he was one of the early pioneers to financial planning under the RIA model all the way back in the 1980s, and taking a holistic goals-based wealth management approach to portfolio design in the 1990s, having literally written the book on it 22 years ago in 1997.

In this episode, we talk in depth about what it was like to start an RIA in the early days of the independent advisor movement before platforms like Schwab Advisor Services even existed. The way Harold hustled with seminar marketing up to six nights a week in the early days just to get clients and survive, how Harold engaged early on with the media as a means to establish credibility for the firm in its efforts to compete against mega-wirehouses of the time, and how becoming fee-only in the early 1990s helped the firm to differentiate itself, because back then, being a fee-only fiduciary actually was a niche.

We also talk about how the firm grew and evolved over time. What it was like to transition from an advisory practice to a business, how Harold thought through the process of introducing next-generation partners and beginning to relinquish control of the firm, the way Evensky and Katz instituted a formal management committee to separate management and ownership of the firm as the number of partners proliferated, and how the firm made an all-in bet on the shift from AUM fees to retainer fees, and then unwound the entire change and went back to charging AUM fees for wealth management less than three years later.

And be certain to listen to the end, where Harold talks about the evolution of the financial planning profession. The CFP Lite controversy of the 1990s, whether the CFP Board and FPA have lived up to their expectations, and what it will really take for financial planning to truly be recognized as a profession by the public.

So whether you’re interested in hearing about what it was like breaking away from the brokerage world when an AUM structure was still a novel idea, how the financial planning profession has evolved over the past few decades, and where it may be headed, then we how you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast.

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