Building BAM Advisor Services: Transitional Realities
Change may be a good thing, but it’s rarely easy. This is especially true when you’re transitioning from one occupation to another. For me, leaving my CPA firm after 28 productive and rewarding years, 20 of which I spent as a partner, was certainly a challenging, and sometimes emotional, endeavor.
But in 1994, I left RubinBrown to head off in a new direction. I joined forces with Steve Funk, Paul Forman and Bert Schweizer to found an investment advisory firm.
Stuart celebrates his 50th birthday at an office party thrown for him by his CPA firm.
We each faced a number of challenges, professional and otherwise, related to our transitions from one role to another. One of mine was to create a roadmap for bequeathing my various duties at RubinBrown, which included a plan to give up all my clients there. At the time, I believed it would take about three years to hand off my various responsibilities. However, my partners thought it would likely take less time than that for me to adequately ensure my clients would continue their relationship with the accounting firm despite my absence. We settled on a two-year transitional employment agreement, both for Bert and me. Actually, we were all wrong about the timing. It took less than a year to achieve a successful changeover. The talented young partners and managers at RubinBrown were eager to take on our clients, and so introductory meetings were scheduled quickly. After our clients had met their new CPAs and established satisfying relationships, our role with the CPA firm was nearly done. We could then concentrate on developing our new venture, first Buckingham Asset Management and then three years later BAM Advisor Services.
And better still, what was good for RubinBrown turned out to be good for Buckingham. After our clients had met with their new accounting professionals, Bert and I were able to discuss with them our plans for our new company. After all, we had cultivated long-term relationships with those clients and accumulated a significant amount of trust. And as a result, a reasonable number of these (now former) accounting clients became new wealth management clients of our fledgling company.
Bert and I found that letting go of our professional lives as working CPAs was not easy. But a cooperative and pragmatic process certainly made leaving the world of accounting easier and less chaotic. Furthermore, our successful experience in transitioning from CPAs to wealth advisors has been extremely helpful at BAM Advisor Services, where we coach members of The BAM ALLIANCE to make their own transition faster rather than slower. We have been able to demonstrate that the planning and analysis skills possessed by CPAs – as well as their thorough understanding of accounting, tax advice and even auditing – make it possible to provide the best possible advice for managing a client’s assets. Perhaps the impact of our evidence-based and comprehensive approach to wealth management speaks for itself. Today, The BAM ALLIANCE, a community of more than 140 independent member firms, serves more than 18,000 clients and their families.
So, if you are thinking about making the move to leave your CPA firm and launch a new registered investment advisor (RIA) firm, or you are on the cusp of doing so, my recommendation is to not drag the process out. My feelings about leaving the world of accounting and entering the realm of wealth management are clear. Briefly stated, an RIA practice has no tax season, no time sheets, few deadlines and hardly any accounts receivable. Better still, on an individual level, your RIA has the potential to be more profitable and become a more valuable asset than your current CPA partnership interest. So take the leap and ask your accounting firm partners to help you speed up the transition.
And we at BAM Advisor Services are at the ready to aid you in such a move. In addition to our own experience, we can now point you in the direction of a growing number of CPA advisors around the country who all have successfully made this same transition. Letting go can result in great reward. It did for us, and it can for you.
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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.
© 2015, The BAM ALLIANCE