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Building BAM Advisor Services: The Power of People

How do you build a 200-person firm, from scratch and without a budget for traditional advertising? It’s not as hard as you might think. I know. I’ve done it twice. Basically, it’s all about the people – both the ones you work with and the clients they help bring to your company.

Regarding the people you work with, you have to start with extremely bright individuals and then continue to add creative and intellectually inquisitive men and women as your firm grows. And don’t be afraid to bring on people who are possibly brighter than you are. Smart helps, and if you can surround yourself with highly intelligent people, you have a greater chance for success. Of course, intelligence alone isn’t enough. Be sure the people at your company are happy to be working together and share your commitment to the firm’s culture and mission.

Try to delegate important tasks to those outstanding people as often as you can. Make sure everyone is in charge of something at the firm. This gives each associate motivation to be successful in his or her particular endeavor, which in turn leads to success for the whole organization. The culture of creative accomplishment must become so strong that these bright professionals will want to make this particular work their career.

At BAM Advisor Services, our participatory culture goes hand in hand with our dedication to providing the absolute right professional and fiduciary services to member firms of The BAM ALLIANCE and the end client. Doing so is the most important determinant of success. You must provide great value to investors who choose to engage your team. In my view, you should come armed with a specific point of view, one that focuses on what the client needs. And speaking of clients, a good fit can be important. Just as clients should choose their wealth management advisor to suit their personalities as well as their financial and investment needs, so too should you accept clients who match your firm’s wealth management philosophy and culture. If you can identify ahead of time a prospective client who might not be fully committed to a passive investment path, or is always looking for something (or someone in your office) to criticize or complain about, you ought to consider passing him or her on to another RIA, no matter how much money that client may have to invest.

allfirm_oldA Buckingham Family of Financial Services firm picture from 2005, taken in the lobby of the 8182 Maryland building in Clayton. The firm, which now has more than 200 employees, has added a lot of new faces since then.

Remember the classic advice on how to give a speech? First, state what you’re about to tell your audience. Second, tell that story, in detail. And finally, conclude by recounting, in a more concise way, what you just told them.

Well, based on my experience, there are also three points of advice on how to build a successful professional practice.

1. Let it be widely known what services you offer. At BAM, we defined our passive, diversified, academic-based and tax-efficient approach to investing. And then we added other aspects of wealth management, such as charitable giving, asset protection and wealth transfer.

2. Deliver the highest quality service possible at a reasonable fee. Systems, procedures, technology and timeliness are all important components of excellence.

3. Tell your community about successes. At BAM, we developed and have attracted “thought leaders” to clearly explain to the public our investment philosophy and wealth management approach. We have done this through books, articles, seminars and speaking engagements. This has led to a significant volume of feature articles and other media about us. That, in turn, has brought us even more new clients.

The more you tell your story, the more people will learn about you. And that could result in contact with more potential clients. In fact, if the message is powerful enough, they might even beat a path to your door.

My former CPA firm was built that way. RubinBrown grew from 11 to 200 people during my tenure there. Buckingham and BAM Advisor Services were created using the same methodology – from a start-up little company in 1994 to a firm that now employs more than 200 associates.

In short, the recipe for success is simple: start with smart and motivated people, add great services geared toward delivering on the promise of true wealth management and then spread the word!


The opinions expressed by featured authors are their own and may not accurately reflect those of the BAM ALLIANCE. This article is for general information only and is not intended to serve as specific financial, accounting or tax advice.

© 2014, The BAM ALLIANCE

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