My tax preparation practice led to independent investment advisor success

I started out as a starving investment advisor. No big deal, right? We all start out like that.

I’m not going to lie.

It sucked.

I would talk to everyone I could and network like a madman, but I could not produce any significant client growth.

To be honest, I wouldn’t have hired me either. I had no schwagg. I was working out of my 2nd bedroom in my junky townhouse. To make ends meet, I was renting surfboards, providing surfing tours, and playing online poker.

investment advisor and tax practice

I had a few clients, but I didn’t know how to bill for my services, and I was undercharging. I didn’t think I was worth “full price” for managing assets. This wasn’t right – because I’ve always been pretty good at it.

Can you relate?

I had a slow stream of leads and some promising words from potential new clients, but no one would follow through. I gave up, took a tax preparation course at H&R Block, and started preparing taxes to supplement my wages.

Can you relate to that too? OMG, so typical.

Turning towards tax preparation

4 years later, I had my own tax practice.

2 years after that, I was making good money.

Growing tax clients had not been anything like trying to grow investment management clients. With this new direction of tax preparation services, I had an under-saturated market and a captive audience. Individuals and businesses NEEDED me for IRS compliance, state tax compliance, to get a loan, to get a security clearance, to keep their green card, etc. New clients would run into my office with alarming motivation.

I kept raising my prices, and new clients kept coming.

Was it hard work? Yes, very hard, and I worked very long hours. Was it as awesome as my dream of being a successful independent investment advisor?

No.

I was happy, but it wasn’t what I always wanted.

So, I threw some money back toward my original dream and hired a firm to draw up a new IA registration. A few months later I was once again a registered investment advisor.

It would be different this time through.

Check out my complete guide to starting and managing a tax practice here.

The client base and client trust that led to my eventual success

Now I had some prestige.

I had a decent, clean, and modern looking office. My wrap-around desk had 3 giant monitors (which only cost $150 each now a days). I had nice and comfortable chairs for my 5 employees and all my clients.

Most importantly, I had “traffic”, and that traffic trusted me.

“Did you want to put a little bit of money into a SEP IRA?” I would ask my business clients.

“How is that going to work?” they would ask.

“It’s easy, I can even set it all up and manage it for you, just give me the word. You really don’t have to do anything”.

It worked.

My investment advisor client base quickly grew, and now I enjoy the work I always wanted to do, which was easier, less stressful, less work, and a better hourly rate than tax preparation.

What does this mean for you and your investment advisor client growth?

It means learn to do taxes. Or, you can learn something else and have the same impact, I’m sure. Insurance? Mortgages? Real estate agent? Get out there and learn a skill that is less glamorous, lower paying, and less saturated. Use the income from this to get out of operating form your living room.

Use the traffic, the trust, and the chance to demonstrate your professionalism to build your investment advisor client base. This, in my opinion and my experience, is the road to success. Thanks for reading and please leave a comment.

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