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Michael Kitces' #FASuccess Podcast: Ross Levin's Wealth Management Index

Ross Levin systematized the financial planning process by developing his own Wealth Management Index that prompts clients with specific questions and converts the results into a score they can use to track their progress over time.

 

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Welcome back to the 146th episode of Financial Advisor Success Podcast!

My guest on today’s podcast is Ross Levin. Ross is the co-founder and CEO of Accredited Investors Wealth Management, an independent RIA based in the Minneapolis area that oversees nearly $2 billion of assets under management for 475 affluent clients.

What’s unique about Ross, though, is the way he systematized the financial planning process across the firm by developing his own Wealth Management Index that prompts clients with specific exploratory questions in each of the core financial planning topic areas and converts the results into a score that clients can use to track their progress over time.

In this episode, we talk in depth about how Ross develops his Wealth Management Index system, the relative balance of delving into the technical topic areas of financial planning versus trying to ask the right questions to explore the client side of those issues in the first place. Why it’s so important to have a systematized process to do both thorough data gathering and track how clients are progressing in those areas, and why ultimately, Ross decided to retain the Wealth Management Index questions but actually stopped tracking clients’ progress scores over time.

We also talk about the path that Ross went through in building Accredited Investors to become a multibillion-dollar RIA with more than 50 employees. The in-depth hiring process they’ve developed in conjunction with an outside industrial psychologist to ensure prospective hires will be a good fit for the firm’s “we over me” team-oriented culture, the succession plan the firm established after losing an initial succession partner that has now brought in more than 10 additional shareholders and will eventually force the co-founders to sell all their shares over the next decade, and the personal mental shift that Ross went through in the early years to better appreciate the value of having a partner who was less focused on business development but more focused on actually building and scaling the business systems and staff of Accredited Investors itself.

And be certain to listen to the end, where Ross reflects on the challenge of trying to remain a small, big firm that focuses more on increasing services to clients rather than just trying to get bigger, the way the firm is aiming to leverage technology to get really fast at the fast work so that they can have more time to do the slow work of client conversations and building relationships, and why Ross believes that the most important thing for advisors to do in building their own advisory business is to figure out what they want to be first, or risk, as Ross puts it, ending up with successful businesses but bankrupt lives.

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