My guest on today's podcast is Danika Waddell. Danika is the President and Founder for Xena Financial Planning, a virtual advisory firm that advises 40 client households of women in tech and supports more than $275K of ongoing revenue.
What's unique about Danika’s path, though, is how, she launched her own independent RIA not out of a desire to be an entrepreneurial business owner, but because an IAR registration filing error by her prior firm left Danika, through no fault of her own, unable to be compensated for working with clients for an extended period of time… for which the fastest way to begin working again was to launch her own firm and register herself instead.
In this episode, we talk in-depth about how a state regulator audit of Danika’s former firm revealed that she was not properly registered with the state of Washington and sparked an investigation during which she was prevented from working with her clients at the time and sidelined her for several months, how, on top of not being able to work with current clients, Danika also found out that during the investigation she would only be compensated for her base salary and not for any client work (including prior completed projects) which ultimately cut her total revenue-based compensation by about 50%, and how, even though Danika’s former firm quickly registered her upon learning of their error, she realized that the only way to work with clients would be to either wait an indeterminate amount of time until the state’s investigation was over… or leave the firm, which ultimately led her to launch her own firm so that she could get paid and get working with clients again (and… maintain more control of her own registrations and career in the future).
We also talk about how Danika’s former career in corporate finance at a number of tech startups inspired her to work with women in tech, as she realized that she understood the financial issues they faced and by being specifically niche-focused, she could create more repeatable processes and it would be easier to scale the business over time, how Danika drove rapid growth for her firm by leveraging volunteering at industry associations to connect with other advisors and Centers of Influence, for whom Danika created a one-page reference document to help her connections refer more of her ideal client, and how instead of using a traditional client portal or vault, Danika creates personalized private Google sites for each client to centralize all of their documents and links to their various logins in one central place for easy access.
And be certain to listen to the end, where Danika shares how, even though she didn’t originally intend on becoming an advisory firm owner, she feels it was the better move for her as getting pushed outside of her comfort zone helped her personally evolve and become even more energized and comfortable embracing her curiosity, how Danika has dealt with the unexpected reality of loneliness as a solo advisor by embracing mastermind groups and industry communities to build deeper more profound relationships with other advisors (and gain some insights along the way), and why Danika believes that joining local industry associations, connecting with like-minded individuals, and finding a mentor can be especially valuable for younger, newer advisors to develop their own communities early on as a foundation to navigate a better long-term career path for themselves.
So, whether you’re interested in learning about how Danika evolved her fees from an hourly rate to a flat fee, why Danika feels spacing out her 5-meeting process helps her get a better understanding of her clients’ goals and makes it more likely clients will implement her recommendations, or why Danika invested $7,500 in the creation of her website so that she can create better branding toward her niche, then we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast, with Danika Waddell.