Welcome back to the forty-fourth episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast!
My guest on today’s podcast is Jake Kuebler. Jake is the President of Bluestem Financial Advisors, an independent RIA based in Champaign, Illinois, that provides a combination of financial planning, investment management, and tax preparation with 4 staff members for nearly 100 clients using a comprehensive annual retainer model.
What’s really unique about Jake’s business, though, is that he’s actually the next generation successor owner of Bluestem, having spent the past 5 years buying out the founding owner, Karen Folk, while nearly doubling the size of the practice along the way. Oh, and he just turned 30. Which means he started this internal succession plan as a buyer when he was just 25.
In this episode, we talk in depth about how Bluestem built a niche focus on serving college professors and administrators (as they are based in the hometown of the main University of Illinois campus!), why they chose to include tax preparation as a part of their annual service offering, the structure of Bluestem’s annual retainer fee model and how it changes from upfront to ongoing clients, how their retainer model structure is allowing them to grow the business serving a substantial segment of young professionals in the Champaign area in addition to retirees, and the business management spreadsheet that Jake uses to monitor and track the key metrics of his advisory firm along the way.
From there, we also talk about the details of the actual succession plan that Jake executed with the founder, how they eventually came to terms on setting a price for the internal succession plan of a hard-to-value solo advisory practice, the way the purchase was structured and funded, and how it was balanced to share the upside for both Jake as the buyer, and Karen as the seller, for any growth that happened after the terms of the deal were set.
And be certain to listen to the end, where Jake shares his own advice to other young advisors looking to buy into an advisory firm and be a succession plan, about how to push the conversation forward when the founder just doesn’t seem to want to sell…. and how to know when it’s time to cut bait and leave and find another opportunity instead.
So whether you’ve been curious to see an example of how an internal succession plan is structured, to hear the perspective of the buyer’s side of a succession plan, or just want a glimpse into the world of a successful retainer-based practice with a clear niche, I hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast!