How to Build the Financial Planning Practice You Want to Work For

Let’s paint a picture of two, typical women in the financial services industry.

The first is Katie, a financial planner who works for a firm in California. One day, Katie receives the call that those of us with young children dread: It’s from her nanny, saying that her child is sick.

Of course, this means Katie must take the day off of work to care for him. But, as the employee of a financial planning firm run by men, the news doesn’t go over well. When Katie returns to work the following day, she is called into a meeting by the male leaders of the firm, who tell her that she needs to find a contingency plan for her nanny — and that plan can’t involve Katie.

The second woman in our picture is Bridget, a financial planner who is receiving an annual performance review by the owner of the wealth management firm she works for. Leadership has tasked Bridget with helping build the firm’s financial planning practice, and she is passionate about her work and the contributions she has made. In addition to serving her growing client list, Bridget frequently speaks to community organizations, hosts countless events, and even launched a monthly women’s group.

During her review, Bridget requests an increase in compensation for her efforts and the goals she has accomplished. Not only are Bridget’s requests flatly denied, but the firm owner tells her that she is “too ambitious” and “too aggressive,” and even remarks that her efforts are “a waste of time.” Bridget leaves the meeting in shock, feeling powerless.

If you haven’t guessed by now, we are these women — and today, we are the founders of Equita Financial Network. But our stories are far from unique. They mirror the experiences of women across our industry, from firms large and small.

Of course, it’s no secret that the financial services world is devoid of female voices — in fact, we make up less than 20% of the advisors working in the field. Outside of our industry, the problem persists — surveys have shown that women make successful leaders, but often don’t have the mentorship, resources or capital needed to grow their businesses.

If you have faced discrimination or hardship at your firm, you’ve probably stepped back and asked yourself: “Why? Is there a better way forward?”

It helps to look at the big picture. You likely pursued a career in financial services because you’re driven by passion — by the need to help others achieve their financial goals and feel confident and secure about their future.

We should never let systemic biases railroad our drive and purpose. We owe it to future generations, to our clients, and to ourselves to find a better way. But how can we continue to do meaningful work in an environment that doesn’t provide us with the support we need to actually do it?

Take the Road Less Traveled

For us, the solution was quite clear: “Launch your own firm.” After we started our own firms, we felt completely fulfilled — we had more flexibility and fair compensation, and saw the results of our hard work translate into growing, thriving businesses.

But that doesn’t mean the decision wasn’t stressful. It was tough to walk out the door and start anew without knowing what resources we truly needed, where to find them, and how to pay for them. By far, our biggest challenge was the distinct lack of a supportive network for collaboration, which made the road to independence far more difficult.

Solutions for Today and Tomorrow

Now, more than ever before, we need female representation in our industry. We need women in positions of power — leaders who can effectively support, relate to, nurture, and develop female advisors to foster a more inclusive next generation.

We all know the statistics — and now is the time to take action and address them.

And perhaps, most importantly, we need resources made by women, for women. It’s the reason why we founded Equita Financial Network. Our turnkey platform encourages women to start their own, fee-only financial planning firms, covering everything from registration and compliance, to insurance coverage and portfolio management, to bookkeeping for clients. The goal is to empower women to run their business the way they want to — fairly, and in the way that allows them to best serve their needs and their clients’ needs.

The right resources open the door to professional fulfillment and a healthier wellbeing — and they also allow you to build a culture that positions others to thrive, encourages pay equality, favors work-life balance, and creates a community for women to collaborate, share best practices, and client solutions. When we come together and support one another, we create a more promising future, on our own terms.

Are you ready to take the leap and launch the practice you’ve always envisioned? Contact us to start the conversation.

How Collaboration in Business Makes a Difference to Women

By noon today I felt defeated. I had a few reasons that started me down this path, including another day of two sick kids following my every move as I tried to navigate a schedule full of conference calls (very thankful for the quick response of the mute button on my headset!) and client deadlines. The stress of trying to juggle work, constant sickness and holding everything together at home was finally taking a toll on me.

My last call of the day left me marked with the most lasting impression. Instead of feeling stressed, overwhelmed and exhausted, the call left me energized and optimistic. It solidified that I am exactly where I am supposed to be.

Every other week the women who are members of Equita have a call to discuss a wide range of things. It is a time to share a new tool you discovered that has made your client service process more efficient, ideas for marketing better to COIs, or strategizing about the fee structure for a prospective client. Today we dove right into discussing our business goals for 2019. After starting my planning firm almost 4 years ago, the conversation made me realize that the way I think about my business plan and goals for the year was different than the way everyone else approached their business plan. Each of us had a different way of approaching this task. Some plans were in a spreadsheet format carefully detailing out expected revenue, others were nicely written documents listing out marketing plans and new ways to find prospective clients. Mine is more of a mix by taking a little from the spreadsheet, some from the written goals, but most of all mine is a list of bullet points on a glass whiteboard in my office. When I complete one of these items it is the BEST feeling in the world to physically cross it off the list. I look at the list every single day. The point of the conversation was not focused on the best way to write a business plan for 2019, but an opportunity to look at the process from different perspectives. It was a chance to be vulnerable, to learn, and a reason to be excited not only about where my firm is headed this year, but where every woman in the group is headed.

Bridget and I have conversations every single day with women who want to take the leap and build the financial planning business they want. Each conversation is unique because each woman has her own challenges to make it happen, and her own hesitations. How do you leave a paycheck and support your personal and business expenses? Will your clients want to continue to work with you once you leave the firm you are at? How do you go about finding the solutions you need to run your business? Where do you even start? It can all be extremely overwhelming and can leave you paralyzed. Trust me when I say that we have been there. Equita is not about just Bridget and I, it is about creating a community of women to support one another and build successful businesses.

This is exactly where I am supposed to be. A place that allows me to build my planning firm, Method Financial Planning, the way I want and work with the clients I want to work with. It is also a place that allows me to offer my clients the planning and service solutions that they would expect from a much larger firm, and a place where I feel supported as part of a community that has so much to offer.

If you are thinking about the next step in your career we would love to start the conversation.

Written by Katie Burke, Co-Founder of Equita Financial Network and President of Method Financial Planning.

How the Western Woman Will Change the World

In 2016, the Dalai Lama proclaimed with his great wisdom that, “The western woman is going to change the world.”

There is such tremendous strength in our ability to collaborate, our empathy and compassion, our drive, and intelligence. But to move the needle on this change requires more than just talking about it. It requires action. I’d like to share my story behind launching Equita with my co-founder Katie Burke, and how we hope it can truly make a difference to the women led planning firms across the country and the many clients these planners serve.

Several years ago I launched WealthChoice, a financial life planning firm for women executives and their families. It was not what I intended when I entered the financial planning industry. I never expected to launch my own firm. But years working tireless hours every week for a traditional RIA, getting paid a fraction of what male planners were being paid at the firm, hearing that I was “too old” by other firms to consider a lateral move, being told I was too ambitious by my boss, or that my efforts to bring women together was a waste of time, all converged in 2016 to help me launch my financial planning firm. And with unbelievable anxiety and stress I launched, on my own, with a vision and passion and my client’s trust.

This is where Equita comes in.

In order to provide the highest level of guidance to my clients, my firm needs the best business resources. As a small woman-led business, I found it easier to outsource these resources rather than curate them myself, mostly for fear of missing key pieces or making mistakes. I also wanted to have more time to focus on client service, which was possible by outsourcing many business resources.

Our role as financial planners is to help women who are working so very hard, live life on their terms. Financial planning is an absolute passion of mine, but so is having my own firm. We are intentional in who we serve, and how we serve our clients. My firm is an extension of myself, and it is a personal passion. It brings me tremendous fulfillment. But with growth, it also caused me to step back to see how we could structure our business better so that we could do more of what we do best, serve clients.

In the course of business I met and collaborated with another financial planner on some client cases to great success. Katie Burke, President of Method Financial Planning, and I realized the great power in collaborating in our businesses. Clients benefit, we benefit. Katie and I started to share best practices in business and planning on a more frequent basis. We saw the terrific results and knew that other women could benefit. So we started to dig into what could allow us to be even better planners and how we could make that available for other independent women led planning firms.

We wanted solutions that would allow us to have more time to spend on what is most important to our firms, and that is great financial planning solutions for our clients. We both realized that having outstanding business resources behind us would allow us to do better work and run our businesses more efficiently. It would allow us the time and resources to grow our businesses intentionally, and not be bogged down with running our businesses, but rather streamline the operations side. We wanted a platform for collaboration, for sharing curated resources, for succession planning, for helping other women led firms be successful. To do this, we needed a platform of the best industry resources, which we spent the next 7 months assembling.

This past week WealthChoice and Method Financial Planning became the first Member firms of Equita Financial Network. We are thrilled to welcome fellow women-led financial planning firms to the platform and look forward to making a difference to clients and women business owners on a scale we have not yet seen in our industry.

There is power in bringing smart, driven, like-minded women together in business. Together we will change the future for our clients, and for women business owners.

Equita Financial Network, Inc. (“EFN”) is a registered investment adviser offering advisory services in the States of Pennsylvania and California and in other jurisdictions where exempted. Registration does not imply a certain level of skill or training. The presence of this website on the Internet shall not be directly or indirectly interpreted as a solicitation of investment advisory services to persons of another jurisdiction unless otherwise permitted by statute. Follow-up or individualized responses to consumers in a particular state by EFN in the rendering of personalized investment advice for compensation shall not be made without our first complying with jurisdiction requirements or pursuant an applicable state exemption.All written content on this site is for information purposes only. Opinions expressed herein are solely those of EFN, unless otherwise specifically cited. Material presented is believed to be from reliable sources and no representations are made by our firm as to another parties’ informational accuracy or completeness. All information or ideas provided should be discussed in detail with an advisor, accountant or legal counsel prior to implementation.