My guest on today's podcast is Thor McIlrath. Thor is the Owner of McIlrath & Eck, an independent RIA based in Arlington, Washington, that oversees more than $610 million in assets under management for 970 client households.
What's unique about Thor, though, is how he has structured his firm so that clients rotate through different advisors at the firm each time they come in for a meeting, eschewing the traditional industry approach of trying to help clients form a deep relationship with one individual advisor and instead intentionally creating an environment where clients get advice from multiple different advisors about their situation over time.
In this episode, we talk in-depth about why Thor was inspired to create a rotating advisor structure because he found that in other professional services like medical teams that implement a similar structure, advisors shared details and in-depth knowledge of each of the firm’s clients, which creates a team environment where the client benefits from differing expert perspectives and increased oversight (and it also decreases the likelihood that clients will follow if an advisor should leave the firm), how Thor first rolled out his rotating-advisor approach (which wasn’t the way the firm operated originally) and despite his trepidation a clear explanation of the benefits of the approach meant that only about 20% of McIlrath & Eck’s clients have been adamant about continue to work with a singular advisor at the firm, and the meeting notes template that Thor implemented for his advisors to centralize their notes and client information to keep everyone up to date as clients rotate.
We also talk about why and how Thor built a 6-hour adult education class on retirement at a local community college as a way to both give back to the community but also drive a steady growth of dozens of new clients every year, how Thor tracks the success of his adult education classes and finds that about 70% of the students from his classes on average will schedule a meeting with the firm (and 70% of those would ultimately become an actual client), and how while Thor initially worked from a third-party template of a presentation he bought he has over time customized his classes by simply taking the key parts of the CFP curriculum that he believes pre-retirees need to hear the most and teaching it to them in a way that fits how Thor likes to explain the concepts.
And be certain to listen to the end, where Thor shares how he is happy to be the rainmaker so that his advisors can focus solely on providing the best service for their clients and then when hiring advisors focuses on qualities like compassion, empathy, and other traits that go beyond how many clients they can produce for the firm, why Thor believes that it is important to be wary of accepting just anyone as a client because not everyone will be a good fit and he found that he could cultivate more loyalty from his advisors by showing that he was willing to let go of bad clients to maintain a positive work environment, and why Thor feels that younger, newer advisors should strive to achieve their CFP designation and then can make a choice to either go get their own clients, or simply look to find another advisor who is good at getting clients and work closely with them instead.
So, whether you’re interested in learning about how Thor didn’t have intentions to teach classes but quickly fell in love with teaching after seeing how eager his students were to learn, how, through his passion for flying airplanes, Thor has found the systematic process of using checklists as a helpful tool and was inspired to utilize checklists in his own firm to ensure the needs of all his clients are met, or how Thor believes in a “work hard, play hard” philosophy and structures more frequent meeting cadences in the winter so that his employees can enjoy more time off and half-days on Fridays in the summer, then we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast, with Thor McIlrath.