Welcome back to the tenth episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast!
My guest this week is Eric Hehman of Austin Asset, who over the past 20 years has completed an incredible journey from being an unpaid intern for the founder John Henry McDonald when he was still a solo practitioner, to now becoming the successor owner and CEO of what is today a successful independent RIA with $750M of AUM.
In this podcast episode, Eric gives us some background about Austin Asset today and its incredible growth since he started working for the founder in 1997, from how the firm established itself as an early fee-only pioneer in the Austin area, to how it adapted its business model from standalone financial planning fees to charging on AUM (and why the firm still often charges separately for a financial plan as well), the way the firm develops its younger financial planner by having them work with smaller clients to gain experience and confidence, and the firm’s current structure today with 16 staff (including 12 CFPs) serving about 300 affluent clients.
What’s fascinating about this interview with Eric, though, is not simply the story of Austin Asset’s growth, but how its succession plan unfolded over time, as told from the perspective of the successor. Eric details why the founder was willing to sell him a 10% stake at just 1X revenue, how the founder transitioned his own role away from client relationships and out of management over time, and the way ownership and salary was transitioned to maintain the founder’s income at a steady level for a period of time.
And be certain to listen to the end, where Eric discusses what led him to ultimately write a book about his succession planning experience – aptly called Success and Succession – and why it is that notwithstanding the industry’s focus on the crucial financial and management transitions of a succession plan, it’s the emotional issues that ultimately drive (or can ruin) the outcome.
So whether you’re simply looking for ideas on how to grow a large financial planning firm, or are specifically looking for perspective on succession planning – as the founder, or the successor – I hope you enjoy this latest episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast!