Welcome back to the forty-first episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast!
My guest on today’s podcast is Elaine Bedel. Elaine is the founder of Bedel Financial, an independent RIA in Indianapolis that provides comprehensive financial planning and investment management, and over the past 29 years has grown to more than $1 billion in assets under management.
What’s fascinating about Elaine’s business, though, is not simply that she’s been successful in growing to the $1 billion AUM milestone, but that she founded the firm from the start as a fee-only RIA in 1989, a time when very few financial advisors launched fee-only firms, and even fewer who were women.
In this episode, we explore Elaine’s journey as a pioneer female fee-only financial planner, from starting her career in a bank trust department where she learned all about estate planning and investment management, to becoming the Director of Financial Planning for Coopers and Lybrand and honing her tax planning expertise in a Big 8 accounting firm of the time, and then transitioning to create her own independent RIA in 1989.
From there, Elaine shares how her advisory fee structure evolved from doing standalone financial planning project fees, to her current blended AUM-plus-upfront-planning-fee model, the unique engagement letter process that she uses after her initial meeting with clients to quote them a fee, and the way that she breaks up the upfront planning fee into an initial and ongoing payments in the first 3 months to help get buy-in from clients to complete the process.
And be certain to listen to the end, when Elaine talks about how she navigated the challenges of bringing her son into the advisory business, from first requiring him to work in another firm for a period of time, and then hiring him into the business but in a position that would not report to her, and how ultimately he has both become a partner and successor owner in the business, and is underway in launching the firm’s Generation NeXt offering, which started as a financial planning solution for the children of the firm’s clients, but is now growing even further beyond them.
So whether you’re looking for insight into how a large advisory firm blends together upfront planning fees with the AUM model, new ideas in how an “engagement letter” can help to close prospective clients, or want some perspective on how to successfully navigate an intra-family succession plan, I hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast!