Welcome back to the 191st episode of Financial Advisor Success Podcast!
My guest on today’s podcast is Tiffany Charles. Tiffany is the chief growth officer for Destiny Capital, a hybrid advisory firm based near Denver, Colorado that oversees $260 million in assets under management for nearly 200 households. What’s unique about Tiffany, though, is the way she’s crafted a unique role for herself as the chief growth officer for an independent advisory firm with a focus not simply on personally prospecting for new business, but building more scalable marketing systems to power the growth of the entire firm.
In this episode, we talk in-depth about how Tiffany forged her own career path through the industry. Starting out first as an executive assistant and then taking on roles in compliance and marketing before climbing the ladder from an associate advisor to a lead, the challenges in building a book of clients by the traditional industry approach that may not be authentic to one’s natural style of marketing, the way Tiffany restructured her own personal focus to move away from business outcomes and towards measuring her activity instead, and how Tiffany ultimately created her own unique chief growth officer role with the focus on the firm’s revenue, client experience, brand identity, and culture.
We also talk about how Tiffany took on her chief growth officer role with her firm as a tie-in to a next-generation succession plan for the firm. Why it was so appealing to join a firm that was already in the midst of transitioning to the next generation of leadership, how she negotiated her role to become a new partner with the firm, and the way she co-created a new vision with the firm and her new partner to pursue a new niche of working with entrepreneurs.
And be certain to listen to the end, where Tiffany shares the challenges in transitioning an advisory firm from a lifestyle focus to a path of growth. Why even if you have an aspirational vision of someday leading an advisory firm, often the key experiences that shape you come from those early entry-level roles that are still so valuable in the early stages of our own careers, and the power of finding a mentor and investing into a coach to help get perspective on how to navigate the key steps of your career along the way.
What You’ll Learn In This Podcast Episode
- How Firm Growth Is Changing Within The Financial Industry [04:13]
- Tiffany’s Career Path From Executive Assistant To Lead Advisor [09:58]
- The Turning Point That Helped Tiffany Find Her Alignment And Land Her Biggest Client [17:17]
- How Tiffany Moved Away From An Outcome Focus And Started Seeing Results [28:31]
- How Tiffany Wrote Her Ideal Job Description And Created The Chief Growth Officer Role [36:04]
- The Co-Vision And Partnership That Tiffany And Jarrod Developed At Destiny Capital [49:29]
- What Destiny Capital Looks Like Today And Where They Are Headed [01:09:10]
- How The Firm Is Evolving To Serve Their Entrepreneur Niche And What A Day In Her Life Looks Like [01:15:24]
- What Surprised Her The Most About Growing An Advisory Firm And The Advice She Would Give New Advisors [01:27:46]
Resources Featured In This Episode:
- Tiffany Charles
- Destiny Capital
- Already Successful Podcast
- Limitless Adviser
- Stephanie Bogan
- Chris Anderson
Michael: Welcome, Tiffany Charles, to the “Financial Advisor Success” podcast.
Tiffany: Thank you for having me.
Michael: I’m really looking forward to today’s discussion and talking a little about, I guess, just the ever-broad industry challenges of growth and how to grow advisory firms, and the way that, I think, growth is changing for the industry as a whole from sort of the, I don’t know, like the founding model of being a financial advisor, which is, “Here’s a phone and the Whitepages. Start calling people and see who you can find. If you can find some people to do business with you then I guess you’re going to be an advisor.” To this modern world where growth is increasingly separating from advisor. Some advisors, heaven forbid, actually just come in because they want to give people advice, not go be business developers, while other people do have that skill set and want to do it. And I know you have a very unique kind of position and title that I don’t think I’ve seen before anywhere, at least not in the advisor world, of wearing a chief growth officer hat for an independent advisory firm.
And so I’m excited to talk about this kind of changing face of what growth looks like in advisory firms and how to strategize around growth when more and more advisors maybe come into the industry today or are trying to get into the industry today without necessarily coming to the table because they want to go get clients. They come to the table because they want to give advice. But someone’s got to get the clients if we’re going to grow. So we’ve got to figure something out here.
How Firm Growth Is Changing Within The Financial Industry [04:13]
Tiffany: Yeah. And that is why there is a chief growth officer position is exactly that problem, combined with a few others, but it’s growth has changed, and the way about it has changed. And I’ve experienced those things, like, “Go to your natural market. If you just get in front of a ton of people and hope that they like you enough, you’ll earn business.” And then you earn your right to do whatever else it is that’s more fulfilling to you, right? And I didn’t love that model, but I was wild about what wealth management and planning does for the world, right? It was quick to me early on that what we do isn’t about money. It’s a business about changing lives. I knew that I wanted to do it from my corner of the world, in this industry, but the structures and the systems that exist didn’t work for me, and I think for a lot of other people. And so I just really got passionate about how this could look and how we could adapt.
Michael: I think you frame it so well, right, this traditional path into the industry, just start calling people, start seeing people, start getting in front of people. We teach like, “Just focus on the activity. Keep the activity. It’s a game of numbers. If you do this enough times, some people are going to like you and what you have to say, and you’ll eventually get some business and close business.” You just have to go out there and keep grinding and grinding and grinding and grinding and grinding and grinding and grinding, and whoever’s to the grindiest with some modicum of success will eventually grind out enough clients to make this work.
And then, I think as you very aptly put it, at least from the traditional industry approach, like, and then you can earn the right to do whatever you actually want to do, right? There’s still a lot of firms out there like, “Oh, if you get enough clients, then you can go get your CFP certification and learn financial planning.” Like, “If you get enough clients, then we’ll allow you to also get paid for financial planning, in addition to selling our company’s products.” But it all historically started with, “Go talk to a bajillion people, try to commit some of them to become clients, make some sales, earn some business, eat a little bit of what you kill, and if that works, then maybe we can talk about you actually building the business you want to build someday.”
Tiffany: Yeah, that’s exactly it. And that just…that became really fascinating to me. I got really curious about…there’s that approach, and then, of course, there are advisors who are coming into the industry now in a retention and client service role that business development isn’t in their world until they’ve climbed…for lack of better words, they’ve climbed the ladder to get to a position in which now they have to produce in order to become partner, or they have to do other things. So there are two things here. But back to coming in and having to do that in order to earn your right, like, you’re not in your power, right? Like, if that’s not what fuels you, or fires you or lights you, there’s real stress and struggle and disconnect in that. And that makes it a very, very tough place to grow.
And the truth is, there’s business development in what fuels and fires them. You just have to understand it and get creative around that. And I think one of the big takeaways I learned was that business and development growth is not all about pipeline and prospecting, right? It’s about understanding yourself. It’s about mindset. It’s understanding what is energy-filling to you, where your skill sets and experience really lend a hand, and then learning how you can cultivate that and grow that naturally. And when you do it consistently, that naturally provides opportunities, and by the way, way more aligned opportunities, ones that you feel really, really good about.
And I had to learn that through failing miserably at trying the old way – what I consider the old way – and then finally just going out of it on a limb to be like, “I’m going to try it my way. I’m going to try to really get into touch with like, how I can grow business through things that I love.” And that really…I started seeing some results there. And then I also…I always approached it never from like a one-to-one. It wasn’t about like this, how I’m advising that client, but really like, how do we do that from a greater scale? I believe in so much of what we do and how we do it. How do I take that from just like advising in that one-to-one relationship, and how do I broaden that into the market? Like, what do I do to get more opportunities here? And how do we do that? And that’s really a big part of why I’m where I am today.
Michael: So talk to us a little bit more about this evolution. Because just, I don’t know, what I’m hearing, kind of reading between the lines here is like, came into the industry in traditional business development, was not happy with it, was not enjoying it, it was not working for you. Which, I think classically, our industry would kind of frame as, “Well, maybe Tiffany is just not great at business development. Maybe that’s not her thing.” Yet here you are wearing a chief growth officer hat. So clearly there was a business development mindset there in some manner that you managed to bring forth and blossom forth. So talk to us a little bit more just about this journey of business development and, I guess, what you did early on that wasn’t working and what changed.
Tiffany’s Career Path From Executive Assistant To Lead Advisor [09:58]
Tiffany: Yeah. So I guess a few things. So I came into the industry actually as an executive assistant. So I’ve sat in many seats, from executive assistant to advertising compliance, to marketing, to paraplanner, to management, to second advisor, lead advisor. I didn’t know then, but what I’m grateful for now is that I naturally have a curious mind. I also naturally like to challenge things, right? Like I’m like, “Why are we doing it that way? That doesn’t make sense.” And while that got me in trouble in some ways, I think it’s part of the reason I’m where I am today as well. So sitting in those seats gave me a lot of perspective of what felt good in those roles, what didn’t, what ones I really…excited me and drove me, and which ones I felt more draining or less fulfilling.
And so then going on the path of becoming a CGO, it was interesting because my worldview was, again, we’re in the business of changing lives. Like, it’s not just about money. And like, how amazing would it be if we had a thousand households in which we put money where it belongs, right? Which is not in the driver’s seat. And the driver’s seat was their agency to life and decision-making and capital and just freedom, right? They were living their best selves. Think about that impact when people are their best selves and how they spread that in their world. So I was really passionate about the fact that I found my place to create the impact that I wanted to from my corner of the world.
And then, as I mentioned, as I was going through all of those seats and learning the business, it was, “Man, this one-to-one client experience thing, it’s great,” but the technical planning wasn’t really my…I didn’t love doing it. And the advising wasn’t. I love the idea of opening people’s minds to how we could change them, and then I love the back end of learning how we did and how we could have done it better. And so I found myself really strategic in that. And I love beta-ing new ideas. And I loved going out and revenue. Naturally, in me there’s an aspect of the hunt that kind of fuels me too, right? Like, it excites me. And then I have a real passion for women’s advancement and being a voice in culture creation, because along the way, and I think there are systemic things that are just naturally there, but also in my own experiences, I just became really in this place of, “I want to be a part of this change. Like, it needs a radical overhaul, and I want to be a part of creating a culture of trust, acceptance, and growth.” And then in all of that, there’s obviously internal hang-ups, right? Like, “Who am I? And who am I to want all that? And how do I get it?”
And then the other thing was, the only path to success that has ever been presented to me was through being an advisor. Like, the only way I was going to get there was by, technically, planning, showing that I can handle a book of 100 clients and a couple hundred million dollars under management. And that was going to be the way that I would earn my right to maybe hand that off in the future. And that was the point where I was like, “Maybe this isn’t for me.” And that was also the point that I realized our industry, and having such a strong structure around how success is earned in our industry and what it looks like, it limits the talent and the possibilities. And I wanted to solve that. And so that combined with the problem of the fundamental mismatch of how…what I consider generation one or the generation ahead of us came into the business, which was sales then advice, and how the current generation is coming in, which is a lot of financial planning, CFPs, and so planning first, and by the way, more so in positions of retention and client experience, that there was a real problem there. And I had the skill set and experience to solve that.
And also, as you alluded to, it was like being stuck in that same box. Like, the past just wasn’t going to indicate the future, and really the present. And so I decided that I was done hearing, “But this is the way we’ve always done it,” and I wanted to get out of that box and create my triangle. And through some amazing coaching and some mindset work, I put it down on paper, I got courageous enough to put it out there, and I was just overwhelmed by the response. And that response led into synergistically finding my partner and firm to give this whole thing the best shot.
Michael: So talk to me a little bit more about just, I don’t know, I guess like this…the wall that you were hitting that drove this change. So you said you had, I guess, already been climbing the sort of industry career ladder for a while, from executive assistant to advertising compliance, marketing, paraplanner, associate advisor, lead advisor. So where was it along this journey, I guess, that the path started breaking down? Because I feel like for a lot of folks, that story in and of itself is a really cool career journey success story. Like, I started as an executive assistant, I got to advertising compliance, I did some marketing, and then I got into a paraplanner and associate advisor, and I climbed to a lead advisor. And it’s like, cool, you made it. Like, you did the journey. You did the path. Like, “Oh, wait, like, wait, why are you not happy with this? What happened?” So where did this break down for you?
Tiffany: Yeah, because the…I was taking a path that wasn’t within my authenticity, or my fulfillment, right? Like, being an advisor was never…wasn’t the goal, it was the only way I thought I could be successful. And the industry, like when you go to conferences, everybody up there are all the successful advisors. And so I think that was a big piece of it, but I…
Michael: So just a realization of like, “Wait, doing this one-to-one client thing just actually isn’t doing it for me.”
Tiffany: Yeah. And that was scary because I believed so much of…I believed in what we do so much, and I wanted…that was something I was really passionate about, but I didn’t want to do it in the way of being an advisor. And I didn’t know, or really have seen, and especially for women, other ways of succeeding.
Michael: And so, I guess just, was there a moment, was there a point, was there a transition or an event that kind of led to a breaking point where you said, “This just has to change? This isn’t working for me?” What drove this realization of, “I’ve spent all these years becoming an advisor and I’ve just realized I don’t actually want to do that?”
The Turning Point That Helped Tiffany Find Her Alignment And Land Her Biggest Client [17:17]
Tiffany: I guess there’s a couple of things that really happened. Early on in my career, I got to learn from someone who was really successful in the industry, and he did great things, and I thought maybe that would be my place. There were succession opportunities and this and that, but over time, I just found that one, there was a little bit of, I think that generation, generation one-two friction. The good news is it wasn’t a business development friction point, it was that he’s planning for the next 2 years and I’m planning for the next 30 years, right? And that was a friction point. So I felt stagnant. And that was frustrating at the time, but when you look back on the journey, and you’re honoring that, you’re just like, “Well, that makes sense.” Right? Like, “He’s in his place and he built this thing, and then I’m in this place of…no wonder our visions don’t align.” And that became clear to me that in succession planning or partnering or life, that vision and that alignment is really, really important.
And so I left that and I started getting into this place of…I actually went to a firm that was protection first-oriented, so commissionable products and then planning. So, in that, I put on that generation one hat, and I had to go and build business in order to earn the next right. But then that business development piece of me that I was always really curious about got to like, start feeding itself and learning. So I was really excited about that because it was something I always wanted to do. I felt really confident in it. I really learned that my superpowers are connection and process. So there was just something there about business development. And my partners there were really great.
And so we actually started trying this model because they were already successful in that model and I was coming in, and I had to earn my keep or my value, or certainly my income. And I found that those pressures, there were a lot of things that came up for me. Like for one, I’ll never forget being in front of somebody that I brought in… And I failed a lot in the business development activities that I tried, right? Like, all the things that you suggested came down, like, who’re 100 people in your natural market? Call them. Like, get in front of CPAs and attorneys and create a relationship for referrals. Like, get on seminars and all that stuff. But there was no intentionality or purpose behind that. It was just, get in front of as many people as you can, hope that you land one, and then hope you can get them to the finish line.
And what I realized about that, and then being in front of this one client, I’d finally…like I’ve been working hard, I’ve been failing like crazy. And I found myself totally out of integrity when, even though the advice and planning and recommendations that we were giving were right for this family and what they were doing, I found myself really, really attached to needing them to make this decision for me and my family, because it was an income thing. And it really bothered me, and I started getting severe burnout and misalignment all the way around. As an advisor, I felt like you should never be in a position to…regardless if it’s right for them or not, it always has to be in the client’s seat to make that decision, right? Like, it can’t have anything to do with me, or I am just not being my best self. And what we do is so important that you have to be the best.
Michael: So the frustration that like, look, even though I really am trying to make the right recommendation, boy, it’s still really stressful when, at the end of the day, if they decide they don’t want to take care of their family, I don’t get to take care of mine because I don’t get paid.
Tiffany: Yeah. And that was devastating to me. And again, I was failing miserably. So it’s hard to get people through the door. That’s hard. And what was so great is that my partners at the time, they were really…they really showed me like…they wrapped their arms around me in that. They were really, really great. But what happened was, I think they could tell I was just at the breaking point, but they believed in me. And an article showed up on my desk in “InvestmentNews” and it was Stephanie Bogan coming out of retirement. It was one of her first written articles. It just hit me. And I researched her. I sent an email, and she responded back. I got my partners on board that this was something we needed to invest in. But I was approaching it from the fact that like, I’m missing something in business development, right? Because I was hungry for the income piece of it and some of the other…and I was like, “Whatever has been taught to me isn’t working. So I need some new ideas up in here.”
It was fascinating because when we finally got…we started with her, so we hired her as a private coach, and when we started with her, it was just fascinating because I knew she could just tell me all the things I could do in business development to go earn that business. What she knew is I wasn’t going to earn that business unless I got my inner self more aligned. And so she started with mindset. And that was a game-changer for me. And it was a game-changer for me personally, and it was a game-changer for me on how I looked at growth and business development. And there is just magic that exists when you get over some of those internal hurdles. And no joke, we can…about 6 weeks after I got in alignment, I had a client come through, and it was $150,000 in revenue. And it was the biggest client. And it was just like, “How did this happen?” And that really taught me about, when you’re in alignment with yourself and what fills you, you then attract and go and meet those same people. And you’re more intentional and you’re purposeful. And then you create some of the tweaks around how you spend your time, energy, and capital to do so, and you have growth.
Michael: So talk to us a little bit more about just like, what changed? What was the mindset change? What was the alignment change? Like, what exactly changed? It was like, I was almost burning out, and then six weeks later, I landed my largest client ever. Because like, I want me some of that too. So what changed?
Tiffany: The six weeks is true. As you start working on it, that did happen. But there were a lot more than just six weeks of inner work because there were years of limiting beliefs that came into my world. But one belief that was really…that I really struggled with was…and that I had to reconcile was that my self-worth was being tied to business results and outcomes, right? So I think as a society, this is easy pressure. And really, to your iceberg point, like, we measure success on all that top stuff, right? It’s tied to numbers, and it’s tied to AUM and accolades and all those things. And so, yeah. So guess what? That tells me who I am and what I’m worth, right? Like, that tells me when I’m enough. And I really, really played that story. That story was very true.
And how does that allow you to show up confident and in a place of like, “This is all about you versus being about me?” Right? And so that really made sense to me. But I was like, our society is addicted to productivity, our business results define our success. And then I’m in this business development role, was just fine-tuning that down even more. My metrics are everything. Like, my metrics are literally how I get my performance reviews and all of those things. And then honestly, just adding in being a woman, and just that extra level of like, what you have to prove in order to advance, or what you have to overcome in order to advance. Like, my self-worth was just tied to all the wrong things. And what she helped me, what Stephanie helped me work through was that my worth is never determined by external factors, right? It’s mine. And what’s interesting about this is, even in your internal worth, like, you don’t have to do anything about it. Like, we are just worthy as humans. I am just a worthy being, right? And once I started understanding that, it was really incredible.
And then what I was able to do was redefine my core values and get super clear on them. So now I have some boundaries around protecting and making sure that if that comes up for me again, that I’ll have some sort of awareness or idea that that’s happening. And then lastly, I redefined success and productivity. And productivity now isn’t about how much I accomplish at work. Some of my most productive days are days off. And that was releasing. And then also, success is not a dollar figure or a position, success actually isn’t all of those things above the iceberg. That’s just how society has defined it. For me, success is about having agency. And having agency, which is a core value of mine, by the way, and Destiny Capital’s. But I define my success, or I now define success by agency, which is about having the ability to determine how I spend my time, energy, relationships, money, and how I make decisions, and being empowered to make decisions. And to me, that is really successful. When I got into alignment with all of that, that is when I saw business development and growth change. It’s when I saw solutions differently. It’s when I got intentional. And that created a pipeline, it created happiness, it created balance. And so that was a really big one for me, was untethering my self-worth from business results.
Michael: I don’t know, just help me understand further, what changed in this realignment as you describe it, right? I’m still just trying to wrap my head around, “I measured a lot of success in terms of growth and business development results. So once I let go of that, then all the business development results came.” What actually changed? What changed in, I don’t know, what you were doing or how you were approaching? What altered that suddenly growth started coming once you tried to make this shift in your own mindset?
How Tiffany Moved Away From An Outcome Focus And Started Seeing Results [28:31]
Tiffany: Yeah, moved from an outcome focus to an activity focus, right? Aligned myself with things that were…if I did the activities that I really enjoyed doing and did them in an intentional way. But ultimately what I learned is like, there’s a lot of uncontrollables and outcomes, and yet that is my entire way of measuring myself and my business. And outcomes matter, but outcomes come when you do activities, right? The only way outcomes don’t come is if you don’t do the activities, or you don’t do them in a way that is in alignment with you, right? You just…you set yourself up to sabotage them, right? How many times have you gone to a networking event and you didn’t talk to one person, or you found that one person and you stuck with them the whole time because it’s not what you wanted to do? Like, you were never going to get the outcome that you wanted, you were just checking something and be seen as how it’s traditionally done. And so for me, that was the shift, was, “I’m going to take the focus off the outcome and focus on the activity.”
Michael: So kind of instead of worrying so much about like, “I had this great prospect…I’ve got to get this great prospect, I’ve got to close this client,” getting away from focusing on the outcome, did that prospect become a client? And getting focused more on the activity of, how many prospects did I see this week or month or whatever it is? How many of these conversations am I having? Am I having good conversations in an authentic way? Because I know if I do that enough, at some point, this is going to average out into positive outcomes anyways.
Tiffany: Yeah, that’s exactly it, right? The outcome is about…it can be about them. I think we can trick ourselves to say about them, but truly, the outcome is about us, the activity can be about them. And when you’re in that place, it’s so easy to drive value and opportunity, and in a way that’s extraordinary. And yeah, when I went that route, it changed a lot.
Michael: Interesting. So when you focus on the activity, it’s easier to make it more them-oriented?
Michael: So what ultimately…I guess, what change came from that? Because it sounds like in the midst of some realization, like, “I’m burning out, I’m not happy in the advisor role,” a mindset shift that suddenly makes business development work and click a little more for you. It sounds like there was also just a change in firm and roles and something that came in the midst of all this shift as well. So, I guess, what happened next as you’re going down this road of trying to restructure how you’re thinking to focus more around, “What does success really mean to me? And what does it look like when I focus on activities instead of outcomes?”
Tiffany: Yeah. In that shift, what happened was, I think it gave me the courage to start thinking about like…because I’m thinking about growth differently because I’m getting outcomes based on doing activities in a very different way, right? Like, that maybe I have something here. And so there was a lot of like journaling and writing and… And a lot of that came from – Limitless Advisers practices this – but like, what is your above-the-line versus your below-the-line stuff? Right? Like, what’s energy-filling versus energy-draining? And really paying attention to that. And so I started doing that work too, like, what was really great. And that’s when it became very clear to me that the technical planning pieces of it, or still doing those pieces of it, that wasn’t my calling. That wasn’t what was going to get it there.
And then I also just got to a point where I think that the scaredness of having to prove myself or if I’m enough, that that was depowered. It doesn’t necessarily go away, right, but you have the tools and the ability to work through it when it spikes up. But it really was like, “Well, why can’t I forge a new path?” Right? Like, “Why can’t I just put it out there and see? What’s the worst that can happen? People are like, ‘That’s a joke?'” And that really helped me because that’s when I had the ability to really say like, “Am I in full alignment with where I’m at? Am I doing right by myself and the people I care about? And what does that look like?” And so, as I worked through that, that’s really where the CGO was like, working through that mindset stuff, having results in growth, which was something I loved, thinking about it differently, talking to a lot of people in the industry. So again, my curious mind and challenging things is really helpful, because I ask a lot of questions. And so I had a lot of relationships with other advisors, and I’m like, “Hey, do you experience this? What does this look like?” And so I think just that combination just finally got to me to the point of like, “Why not? And why not me? Let’s just give this a shot.”
And I knew that those problems of business development in which generation one built their careers off of, and that was great and fine and sustainable while they’re in growth or lifestyle mode, that becomes a friction point when they want to slow down or sell, especially if they have a legacy or want to do an internal succession. And the problem for the second generation in taking over these firms or running these firms is that they’re planning-focused, business development was never a skill or growth. Like, really was never a skill brought in, trained, dripped on, seated along the way. And they were going to be taking over a business in which they had, whatever it is, like 150 households, $200 million under management, and 3 staff. And they’re now in this place of like, fear mode of retention, and running all of these things that business development was never going to be a priority.
So I knew that problem existed. And then I knew – I listened to your podcast and everything else in our industry – but generalists are not the way of the future. We have to think out of the box. So I knew those problems existed enough that other people would care and want to listen to what I’ve come up with because there are solutions for them in it too. And not about it just being my fulfilling journey, but there are real solutions to problems that exist for other people. And I think that’s where the response came from of like chief growth officer, yeah, all day long. And many people took that in the context of only business development. The culture piece and the passion around talent and retention isn’t necessarily focused in that area. But there’s actually real magic between business development and culture and people. But, yeah. And the next thing I knew was I found a firm that was ready to go in that with me and give it a go. And it’s been two years.
Michael: Help me understand a little bit more, though, of just literally how…like, what you created and how this came to be. Like, you sat down one night and just said, “Screw the industry and everything else, I’m writing this job description and I’m going to find someone who will hire me to do this?” Was that essentially what it came down to?
How Tiffany Wrote Her Ideal Job Description And Created The Chief Growth Officer Role [36:04]
Tiffany: No, not totally “screw the industry” by any means, because I’m really passionate about the industry and what we do, right? I believe that this is the way to change the world. When you can put money in the seat that it belongs versus the seat that it has, we get to change the world. So it wasn’t the industry, but it was, the industry has…for what I started…trying to tread lightly here, I guess, but a lot of archaic thinking I felt and experienced in some ways. And I’m not cookie cutter. And so there were aspects of that. And I really, really believe there are cultural problems, and I really want to be a part of that solution.
So what I did was I thought, “Okay, revenue,” like, I’ve developed some really cool systems and processes. I’ve documented my processes along the way, right? So my superpowers are people, connection, and process. And so when you put people and process together, business development is a beautiful thing. And so I had some amazing processes, and I had the skill set, and I had enough wins or enough outcomes that would say that I have the experience and skill set to do this. And so from a revenue perspective, that’s where I saw, I’m like, “Top-line revenue, like, I can do it, and I can teach it.” So I started mentoring and teaching other advisors what I was doing, and I found the power of abundant sharing and collaboration.
And then client experience, it was the same way, right? Like, I was always interested in not providing the client experience, but how we were doing that and how we could improve it, and how that had a growth lens to it. Like, how do we create…how do we make our clients become advocates of ours? Right? Running tons of client advisory boards, gathering information along the way. And then the culture piece, like, how do I create a culture of growth and trust and acceptance? And do this in a different way that…we’ve done it in a way that talented people can thrive, that they’re not coming from that like hunger, starving place, that they’re coming from a whole place.
And then the last piece of that, which I think is just like an overlay on that, is the brand identity piece or some of the marketing. But what’s interesting… So those are the four core areas that I oversee. That is what I developed and like, okay. So CGO, I was really passionate about the revenue, client experience, and culture. Brand identity is a big piece of that. The marketing campaigns is a piece of that. Especially our industry really puts together business development and marketing. I actually see them siloed. But going into a smaller firm, these are going to be pieces that are important to that. And so I just drew that up and recognized that these other problems existed from where the industry was from generation one and two. And then we’re seeing fee compression, technology and all that. And we’re going to have to think out of the box. And my position…
Michael: So you were trying to just write your own job, like, “I want a chief growth officer job description. I’m going to be responsible for revenue, client experience, culture, and brand identity.” Like, “I’m writing this, this is what I want.” And then you just started calling firms and saying, “Do you want this?”
Tiffany: Yeah. Well, so I wrote it out. So part of mindset work and working with Stephanie is envisioning. Like, visions are powerful. So like, if you are looking into the future or you’re thinking about things, it…as, I think, Steph puts it, when your vision is clear, your decisions are easy. So I think a lot of that came out from doing those exercises of, “What do I really love doing? What do I not?” Like, “What am I really good at? What am I not?” Just all those types of things.
But along the way, in my career, I’ve had really incredible opportunities to learn from different coaches, learn from really successful advisors. I had the ability to connect. So I got to learn a lot. And I was just curious and picking brains, right? So I learned a lot from being in front of…any given week, I was probably, for years, in front of two to three different advisors, just picking their brain, “How did you become successful? What struggles do you have? What’s going on?” And that was when I picked up like, there’s this real fundamental mismatch between how business was built before and how people are coming into business now, and where we’re going. And I wanted to be a part of that solution.
And also, then learning about partnerships that somewhat existed under a similar model, right? Like, not a total model, not a CGO model, but like one partner is a rainmaker and one partner is a servicing partner, the client advising partner, and where those went well and where those don’t go well. There’s a lot of breakups in that area as well. And so I just got really curious about that because I was like, originally, I thought that was the way, like, just business development. It didn’t feed my whole, like, I’m going to change the world and women’s advancement and all that type of stuff. But what it did was it fed into a lot of things that I really enjoyed. But what I found was like, it wasn’t sticky enough for a partnership to last forever because, at some point, business development is all like hunger and growth and the hunt. And I found the client… So you have one that is more growth mindset and you have one that’s more lifestyle mindset or lifestyle-oriented. And those disconnects were there. And I thought, “How do you create a position that is stickier, that really keeps everybody in alignment and nurtures the growth on that lifestyle side but also is connected enough to understand capacities and all that, and be a part of a greater solution, not just prospecting?
Michael: And so, as you looked at it, your view was there are all these gaps around how firms are going to grow in the future because the model of career development has changed, as you, I think, put it well, right? Like, the first generation of advisors, you came in with business…either business development skills or you learn them immediately because it was all “eat what you kill.” If you did that well enough to survive, then you earned the opportunity to actually figure out something else to do. Go expand into financial planning advice or other areas, or go start your business, wherever it was, but like, everyone went through the doorway of business development first, everything else comes later. And if you can’t get through that doorway, you’re not here. Versus the generation of advisors that are coming in today where granted, some people still come into those business development roles and can do that path, but we have more and more of these pathways around just being an advisor, serving clients, service-oriented roles, operations roles that morph into, client service roles that morph into associate advisor and advisor roles, kind of a journey that you did.
But you could be the prior advisor. If you didn’t figure out how to do business development in the first 6 or 12 months, you didn’t have a job. In the current world, business development is maybe something you decide, “Okay, I’ve been doing this for 10 years now as a successful advisor with a great client base, I think I’m going to try to figure out this business development thing now,” or not, and you may never go there. And you get, I think, as you noted, this gap that comes for firms where founder, who was the rainmaker, drags growth of entire firm on his or her back that eventually gets to the point where they’re not so growth-hungry anymore, they’re getting ready to retire. And so the founder that did business development doesn’t want to do it anymore, isn’t going to be around for the long run. The next generation are wonderful advisors that take wonderful care of clients, but no one wants to or has the skill set for business development. And so you get, specific to a firm and even broader across the industry, all of these growth challenges for firms where no one actually has the skill set to do the next stage of growth now.
Tiffany: Yeah, yeah, that’s exactly it. And you see, I think my experience in where I had to sell in order to survive, as well as being salaried advisor that got to plan without the fear of the income piece of it and being on both sides of that I think has really allowed me to honor both sides of that pretty well. There are aspects of where I get really frustrated with the previous model. But it’s interesting because generation two also has the opportunities to come in and even push even more quality advice to clients because there are books to work on, and there are clients there, right? And so it’s funny because generation one is almost the reason generation two has the problem that it does. Yeah, they don’t understand it, right? A lot of it is like, “Well, I did it, why can’t you?” And it’s like, “Well, because, like…”
Michael: Well, because if I wanted to do that, I wouldn’t work here. I would have gone and done that.
Tiffany: That’s exactly it. Because I would have made more money and been able to do it on my terms should I have wanted to do that. I didn’t want to do that, which is why I’m here, right? And so there’s that…business development and sales are like a huge friction point there. And it works well, again, for many, many years until succession or slowing down of generation one happens. And then generation two doesn’t necessarily have the skill set to take it into the future for a long time, right? Like, if that advisor’s book that you’re working on, your clients are all retirement, in their 70s, you need more than just the organic growth. You have to get purposeful about your next 30 years, your next 20 years. And that’s hard for you because, one, along the way, you were just never really learning the business development skill sets. Maybe the onboarding pieces of it but not beyond that. And growth was never nurtured into you. And I thought that that’s a miss.
Something about Destiny Capital and coming in as CGO is, every single one of my team members feels a part of growth and knows that they’re a part of growth. And that’s from administration to finance, to ops, because growth isn’t all about prospecting and pipeline, right? Like, let’s think about this differently. It’s about efficiency. It’s about taking risks and putting your neck out and learning something and doing something differently. Those are all things about growth. So everybody in my firm feels like they have business development metrics. And what happens when you do that is like, your opportunity shifts, right? When your client wealth coordinator learns how they can contribute to growth, and/or business development, like, what they look for when clients send things in, or they’re listening to things a little bit differently that create a door for opportunity, those are things that we can do and create. And that was something that I didn’t get far into my career. And I thought, “Wow, what a miss.”
And then, of course, these second-generation advisors, their whole measurement of worth and performance and all that stuff, right, the mindset stuff was all based on delivering client experience. And now there’s just this flip of the switch, and that hasn’t been nurtured, nor has it been something that they’ve ever had to think about. And it matters. And my thought was…or my original thought when I was coming into it was, “Well, great, somebody else can just do that and it could be a partnership in heaven.” Because you can’t do it all is the other piece of it. I think it’s really, really hard to do it all. There are people that do it. But I think similar to that mindset, I was like, you can’t be all things to all people. And if you can really specialize in what you do best, then you’re going to have more momentum there. So I think that’s similar in our career.
And so I felt that piece of it, but then I was like, well, it’s just so much more like, you don’t just walk into a firm where somebody is retention and lifestyle-focused and you’re growth-focused and that you guys just have like this great synergy and you’re off to the races. It’s not just about like, “I’ll bring in the clients and you service them, high five.” You’re going to have different philosophies, you’re going to have different approaches, you’re going to…there’s going to be friction on what you believe and how you believe in going about it just simply based on that factor. And so I knew that it was going to be more than the second generation just having business development. It was about business development and creating a combined vision, right? One that works for both people.
Michael: So help me understand more of just how you turned this thing in your head. Like, “I’ve had my mindset revelation. I know the things I want to do. Okay, now there’s tens of thousands of firms out there, none of whom I currently work with, one of whom may or may not actually want this.” Like, how do you actually turn this into a job? What did you do?
The Co-Vision And Partnership That Tiffany And Jarrod Developed At Destiny Capital [49:29]
Tiffany: My approach has always been… I was really out in the community. I question everything. I beta things, I ask people things. So I think that’s always ended up serving me not knowing it. But that was really it. I was like, “Hey, these are all the problems I see. And I really, really think this could be a solution. What are your thoughts? Pick it apart. Give me feedback.” And so I was just in front of advisors. And not cold calling them, I mean relationships. And it was like, “Hey, you should really meet this person or advisor.” And so that’s really how that ended up coming about.
And what happened was I was…my current partner, Jarrod Musick, I had met him along the way and I was fascinated. He was a second generation. So Destiny Capital has and is successfully transitioning to the second generation – not without its challenges, but also with a lot more success than I could have imagined. And I thought, “Wow.” Like, “So, okay, our visions are going to align, right? We’re both looking out 30 years, not one of us is looking out two or like…” And he wasn’t looking to just have a lifestyle firm. He was looking for growth and change. I think we both had that mindset and entrepreneurial mindset of like poking holes in things. Like, “Why not think that you can do something differently or better?” Right?
And so he became a mentor to me on it, actually, throughout the journey of like, “This is what I’m thinking.” I went through the things of like, “I really believe this is an equity position. My goal here isn’t to go and grow somebody else’s business, one, but number two, I actually don’t know how I can be most effective if I don’t have the decision-making power and the true empowerment to make this work.” And he agreed and coached me through all of that. And that’s really…really what it came down to, was that I put it out there. There was really good feedback, there was a positive market response. And I met somebody who was willing to take the risk on me, and I was willing to take the risk on him and Destiny Capital, and taking it into the future. And that is how I ended up with my chief growth officer role.
Michael: And so, how did this work in terms of creating a position? You’d said you were looking for something that would tie to equity to be aligned. Did you have clients you brought in? Did you buy in? Was equity given? Just, how do you come to the table and say like, “Hey, I’ve got this vision for growing your firm, oh, but I kind of need a piece of it in order to make that happen?” How does that work?
Tiffany: Yeah. So I think I was lucky in Jarrod because of just…of his visionary piece. And we were able to just be really open and honest. So what I learned in researching all these failed partnerships and all the ones that worked and the experiences I’ve had and for him was a couple of things, was you’ve got to put it all on the table. So like, we need full transparency. We need to make sure we’re really aligned. We need to make sure our core values are aligned. Those types of things were really, really important. So we did. We had honest and hard conversations upfront. And I was like, “Decision-making is really important to me,” for a couple of things. I had some mindset crap around it, right? I’ve been told so many times no or, “This is how we always do it,” and I didn’t believe in that. And I needed space to make mistakes because this is new and that is terrifying. So we can’t go in this expecting it to be perfect because we have an idea. And I think it has a lot of potential, we see all the writing on the wall, but we’re going to have lessons. And he already has that mindset, right? And so we had that.
And then we got into the equity piece and why, and the partnership piece of it, and that this was a co-vision that we were going to take into the future and do something wildly successful with Destiny Capital and how we were going to transform it. What was great about Jarrod is he realized my strengths were not his and vice versa. So we had really, really great synergy around it. But we also found synergy around where we both have strengths and we could collaborate well, and where we had blind spots and we were going to need to make sure that we had team members that could really create some vision there. So that was one. Like, we did all that work because failed partnerships are scary. And then number two, we did put in time until I became an owner. So we created the path and signed an agreement prior to me making the decision, but we said, “While this feels great, why don’t we put…create that honeymoon phase? So why don’t we go for a year?” We decided on a year. Attorney or legal advice was that you usually know within three to six months. I think this was something that we both felt like needed a little bit more time, although I think we would both say that we knew probably within that earlier timeframe that it was going to work really well.
So we built that in, and the risks on both sides of that were like, he was out like, “Gifting doesn’t work.” And he’s like, “And it doesn’t put you in a place to get the decision-making or think like a partner or think like the entrepreneur or take this to where you want to go with it. And buying in is really important because it shifts the way you’re a partner and how you think. And it creates a different bond amongst partners.” And I couldn’t agree more. Destiny Capital was an entity that was grown by Steve Musick before us. I was coming into a successful firm that had the capital and vision to allow me to really try all this. Like, to me, when I had the opportunity to buy in, I wasn’t just buying into the future. I was buying into what already existed. And so that, I felt really in alignment with it. And so we came to terms on that.
And then the other thing that we did was, until I’m a partner, we had a termination clause in there in which if it didn’t work out, that there was going to be some sort of payment for the work that I did and put in there because something you learn about business development and growth is that you can put those processes in place and there are years of benefits ahead. And so I wanted to make sure that I was protecting myself and that if this doesn’t work out, and you get to reap the rewards of the benefits of the work that I do going forward. Like, I’d love some sort of fixed payment. And so we just put a number to that.
And no, I did not come with clients. I loved my previous partners. And what’s interesting about playing a business development role versus being the advisor is at the end of the day, the clients don’t have a relationship with me. So all the pipeline and advisors I brought in, and when they come through COIs, especially, like, they’re not in front of me building that relationship with me. So the chances of me even taking clients are minimal as business development or chief growth officer. And that’s awesome for the firms that you work with, right? And that’s why equity became important to me, was because, one, the vision and building, but two, there was a protection aspect of that. I want to be a part of what I bring in, and protecting myself from the fact that I’m not building a book of business with these clients, like, I’m not protecting myself in that way. They’re not sticky to me, they’re sticky to the company. They’re sticky to the advisors that are servicing them. That’s who they get raw and work with. And so I had to…that is something that we recognized and talked about ahead of time, right? And he understood that.
So we were really able to work through a lot of things upfront. And that allowed us to start off on a really healthy foot. And those were lessons that I’ve learned in the past, where like, they’re hard to reconcile when you make decisions early that you just don’t know what you don’t know. And everybody doesn’t. And so it took a while to understand how business development works when you’re not the servicing advisor.
Michael: And so, out of curiosity, how did you value the buy-in when you were doing this? Did you go get the firm valued externally? Did you just kind of come to a negotiated rate? Did you make an adjustment to the valuation, given the opportunity here? How did you approach the transaction?
Tiffany: Yeah. So Destiny Capital and Jarrod get valuations on the firm every year. So I knew the numbers coming into where they’re currently or at, and we locked in that I was going to be buying in from the valuation in which the day I started, even though I was buying in a year later because we wanted to account for any growth that was coming into play with…
Michael: So you wouldn’t have to like, “Let’s take a year of you growing this, and if it works out, you can buy at the value you created with the growth that you brought.”
Tiffany: Yeah, we’re going to get out of this “you need to prove yourself” stage, and we’re going to be like, “I actually believe in you.” Right? There was that difference right there. And so I appreciate that he saw that and was willing to go with me there. And so we put it there. And then I’m not a majority partner, I’m a minority partner. So we did do a lack of control discount based on the fact that I’m the minority owner, but we did have a conversation about the fact…we actually talked about…I was like, “Being a minority owner and decision-making is really, really important to me.” And so the only thing that I couldn’t…we agreed that we would be…and we have it in writing. I don’t know if it would hold up in the court of law, but we have it in writing from a decision-making standpoint, we would both have to agree on certain initiatives or certain things. So like a future partner, even though he has majority, that’s something that both of us have to totally agree on. And if one of us is off then that partner won’t come on, right? Those are things that we agreed to.
The only thing that I can’t…where I know he would easily take into account what I had to say about it, or my perspective, but selling the company to a third party, if we were ever to be in that place. And the reason for that was because of the way we set up the deal, I could be…there could be more incentive for me to sell it versus him because of the way the deal was structured. And I think the lack of control discount doesn’t show up in that third-party sale. So I could have, technically, more incentive to do that. And so just to remove that misalignment, that would be done by our board of directors. And while my voice would be heard, ultimately, that’s the one thing that could be overruled, I guess.
Michael: So I guess I’m wondering both what other issues came up as you were at the table trying to sort all this out, as you put it, create a co-vision, and just how did you figure out all this stuff to cover in the first place? Like, did you find a consultant or a checklist or something or something else just to guide all these different areas that you were talking through?
Tiffany: No, we really didn’t. Jarrod and I were both in the industry for about eight years, seven or eight years before we got there. And I had the experience of personally being in firms where partnerships broke up and the deal terms and being behind that and legal structures. I had this privilege early in my career, and I’m so grateful for it. I didn’t know what I had at the time, but there was this mastermind group that was put together, and it was these advisors from across the nation. There were five of them that represented over $5 billion in assets under management. And I got to go in as coordinator of this mastermind. And so I was the only one that was interested to learn. And what was super cool about it was they were all extremely transparent about everything, from like how they structured their firm, how they do fees, from client experience to where they succeeded, to where their challenge. So like I knew S corp versus LLC and why they made those decisions, what contracts they have, partnerships, and what worked and what failed and how they structured those. From how every employee was paid. It was an incredible experience at the time. I didn’t know it, I was just coordinating it, right, and documenting information so that they could have a fruitful conversation.
And what I ended up taking from that was…there was so much that I was able to learn that paved the way for, I think, a strong partnership conversation along the way. And then just listening to failed partnerships. And I’m out in the community a lot. I work with a ton of entrepreneurs. Actually, that’s an area of focus for Destiny Capital. But I work with entrepreneurs, and so there’s that aspect of just story after story of what’s worked and what hasn’t. And then I, myself, in my previous relationship, like, we tried the business development service advising role, and so many things worked and so many things didn’t. And some of those conversations that you heard, those were the things where I was like, “Okay, I have to reconcile the fact that I’m bringing in business and it’s not mine. Like, they’re never going to go with me. I don’t have that relationship. Like, how do I account for that? What does that mean?” And that was something that I was like, “This has to be a conversation, like, how do we deal with that?” And so we just brainstormed that together. And we both feel really good about it. And because, like, I don’t have to worry about who the relationships are being in front of. I just need to worry about they’re getting the best service because I get the reward of doing it that way from being an owner.
Michael: And I guess, to me, just one of the striking takeaways of it is just, whatever worry or issue or nagging doubt it is that you’re wondering about if you’re thinking about negotiating one of these, like, just say it and put it on the table and talk through it because A, it’s probably not going to go better if you don’t talk about it and bring it up. And I guess B, indirectly, like, if you don’t feel comfortable to have that conversation, this probably isn’t going to end out being a good partnership anyways. If you can get comfortable enough to have those conversations and sort through them together, A, that speaks to just the candidness of the prospective partnership, the connection of the perspective partnership, and I suppose kind of literally like, speaks well for your ability to reconcile differences and views and perspectives to come to a common vision if you can literally bring up issues with different views and come to a consensus on how to build a common vision.
Tiffany: Totally. And think about how that shows up in growth when you’re able to do that, right? Like, more perspective and different lenses of coming about it. Like, that’s…usually, there’s some really juicy stuff in there, but yeah, that’s exactly it. Like, you have to put it on the table because that really is the ticket. And then really coming at it from a place of curiosity on both sides versus…it’s really easy to let that inner stuff come up, right? Like fear of failure driving that. And honestly, part of that came up because, in my previous place, I was so scared of failing because I didn’t have those relationships and I had no security in it, right? And that was to nobody’s fault. We didn’t know. But like, Jarrod did a really good job welcoming the fact. And we both really helped each other being like, “Okay, what’s true here, and then how do we really approach this curiosity?” We both also had legal checks on things to help us from a legality standpoint and come up with some ideas there as well. And so, it just…
Michael: And so were you working with an attorney through this as well of just formulating, drafting a bunch of agreements?
Tiffany: Yeah. So we…he had an agreement that he had in place for his own buy-in to the firm. And so there was that. And one thing that came off in the front was he’s like, “Hey, you’re welcome to use our attorney. I’m willing to pay for it as we go down this road.” And I was like, “That’s a really good idea.” Then I was like, “Wait a second, that attorney is representing you, I should probably get my own. And if this is what I’m willing to do, then I need to invest the $3,000 I’m going to spend on an attorney to go in this. Like, this is a big deal.” And so that was like…it was really great because we both were like, “Yeah, that makes sense.”
Michael: So how did you find an attorney for this? Or like, who did you use? Like, for a lot of us, we don’t necessarily have that person on speed dial.
Tiffany: Yeah. So part of business development and a way that I’m really good at building business development is a center of influence. So my years prior… I have a lot of relationships in the community. So I actually did have that person of who I would know and trust to be the person to walk me through that.
Michael: I’m just wondering, were there any other major issues or sticking points that came up that you had to try to sort through to make sure this was going to work for both of you?
Tiffany: Honestly, not really. I think we did all of our work upfront by putting it on the table. We were really honest about it. Where I was at, it all came about really fast once it was like…the building of it and talking about, and then it was like, “Oh my gosh, this is going to happen, and it’s going to happen fast.” There really wasn’t any sort of concerns or looking back on issues from a partnership level. Like, it all has actually worked out really, really well.
And we both put things on the table where I’m like, “Hey, I’m coming in at this equity.” And we have this vision of how it’s going to build and how other partners are going to come in and why we’re doing equity a certain way. I just want to put it out there that I want that to remain on the table because our vision is only as good as today and the information and plan that we have, so much can change that. And so I just want to keep that open in a conversation. I think we should talk about it every year. I think we should really talk about our partnership and equity every year. Because I want to make sure that if our vision changes and I should be less or more of a partner, that’s a conversation. And those things have happened. Our vision has changed. We’ve learned a lot along the way. And not from necessarily a partnership level, but like from business growth and how we’re doing it together and all those things. And that shifts how you think of equity. And then also thinking about the fact that like…I think we both felt like it was good for the places that we were at then, and now, we’re both like, “Okay, I think we’re ready to actually even tie ourselves together that much more.” And so we just both agreed that that would be a conversation on the table.
Michael: Meaning what? Like shifting more equity? Doing other team deals?
Tiffany: Yeah. So doing more equity. Or like if we decided to go through an acquisition, what would that look like? All those certain things, all those things. But to me, it was really important, and to Jarrod, but in that conversation, it was important to be like, “Okay, we’re agreeing to this, and there’s…we’re agreeing to a vision and a future, and equity exists in a different way now. Like, there’s a chance that’ll shift. Let’s keep that on the table as a conversation for us to just say, ‘How are we both feeling? And where are we at on this?'” And it’s been great.
Michael: So talk to us a little bit about Destiny Capital itself, like, the firm as it exists today, where does the business stand?
What Destiny Capital Looks Like Today And Where They Are Headed [01:09:10]
Tiffany: Yeah. So let’s see where… should I start with like… So we have about $260 million of AUM. We serve about approximately 200 households. We have a team of 13, which could seem like a lot for a firm of $260 million, but we really…we’re really planning for the growth in the future. And we’re set up to do that in a really beautiful way while we’re present. And then Steve Musick is our original founder. So we are in… He started it back in the ’80s, and he’s still an advisor with us today, and partner, but he’s now a minority partner. And we are…we have done a lot of the succession, but we’re still in that transition phase of the firm there. And so, what else would you like to know?
Michael: Just typical clientele. I kind of do the math, $260 million of assets with 200 households, like, the average client is a little bit over $1 million. But is there any other commonality or structure around who you serve or who you’re going after in trying to grow the business from here?
Tiffany: Yeah. So I think this is a part of like how Destiny Capital was built, and then where we’re going. So we…Destiny Capital historically was really set up to serve and do a lot in retirement planning and then high-net-worth tax planning, I guess, or more planning around the high-net-worth complexity financial planning. And so that is where you would hear that $260 million of AUM and 200 households. So, interesting enough, we had like…Destiny Capital is a traditional model. Steve did a lot of really great things in how he built that and the clients that we serve. And so he…through seminars and just a really deep ability to connect and deliver good advice. So he built that structure. And then when I came in, part of my role of CGO and thinking about the future and thinking outside of the box was, “Okay, number one, we’re shifting this from an organic lifestyle practice to a growth practice.” Right? Like, our vision wasn’t to just maintain a practice for another 30 years, it was to do something amazing and create massive impacts. Like, we wanted to scale that.
What was great about the succession was that Steve understood that success was both what he envisioned and what we envisioned. And then he was really like, “Yes, I want this thing to go big.” So there was that piece of it. And in that, I’m like, the way to do that is to understand who we best serve and how we do it. And really get into, as you’ve done such an incredible job interviewing so many people is like, how do we specialize? And what does that look like? And so I went in and teamed with Jarrod. These are things that he was doing along the way. So Destiny Capital originally was really like, “Here are all the things that we do. And if that’s something resonates with you, we’re going to be your firm.”
And then it went into… We have certain advisors that specialize in areas, right? Like we have one that is focused on retirement planning, we have one that’s focused on sudden wealth, and then we have one that’s focused on entrepreneurs. And those teams operated in more specialties, which is great because it’s a step forward. And so my role as CGO was like, “Okay, how do we do it in a way that isn’t…that we get to the market, like, we penetrate the market in each of these areas?” And so I was originally on like a law firm style practice, right? So Destiny Capital is an overlay, and then how do we penetrate the markets in a really great way and grow in like retirement planning? Like, what do we do differently in retirement planning? How do we show up there?
And then entrepreneurs were really fascinating. So entrepreneurs are a big area of focus for us. And the reason is, is it’s work that we were already doing, and then I spent the better part of the last couple years really going out and beta-ing the market, really understanding entrepreneurs and their needs and why traditional financial planning wasn’t resonating there, right? And yet we had this knack of being able to serve them. And we were doing it differently. And then my role was, how do we brand that and market that and message it? And that was really, really hard to do under the Destiny Capital. So retirement planning high-net-worth, there are aspects of being under that traditional model where if you can start specializing in certain ways, so a piece of that is our tax overlay, like, our advisor that runs that piece is also a CPA and does an incredible job with tax planning and really has that specialty there. So we’re going down that route with Destiny Capital. So we’re in the midst of right now of like, how do we really incorporate that into our client experience? How do we make that more visual? How do we message that on our website of Destiny Capital?
And then for our entrepreneur team and where we were serving entrepreneurs, we really tried to work that in under that traditional model, but, client experience, fees, messaging, all of that, like, the entrepreneurs just didn’t relate. And so eventually, in January I said, “I really think we need to DBA this brand. Like, nothing is in alignment with like…from a messaging standpoint and a marketing standpoint with like the traditional model.” And so we are in the midst of that. And depending on when this airs, it might be launched or not, but we’re going to call it Entrepreneurs Aligned. And I’m really excited about that. And I think…
Michael: So Entrepreneurs Aligned will be like a new DBA for Destiny Capital? It’s like a new standalone…well, I was going to say a new standalone business unto itself. I guess it won’t literally be because it’s a DBA for Destiny Capital, but like a standalone advisory firm website for serving entrepreneurs.
How The Firm Is Evolving To Serve Their Entrepreneur Niche And What A Day In Her Life Looks Like [01:15:24]
Tiffany: That’s exactly it. Because the problem we were having was that we’re serving these entrepreneurs in such a great way, but then if they go and research us, they’re like, “Wait a second.” Like, in front of you, we have all of these things, and then this way. And then also, the way we serve entrepreneurs is disruptive to the traditional model. So it was really important that we were able to message that in a way that resonates with the audience and resonates with the entrepreneurs, and that they get to see the value that we drive. And also a place where when we’re not in front of them, we’re still building that credibility, right? And that was really important. And our Destiny Capital brand wasn’t representing that because we represent more than just entrepreneurs. We also do retirement and high-net-worth planning.
Michael: And so I guess just help me understand more, like, how do you…? You spent all this time, right? Steve spent 30-odd years building this Destiny Capital brand, like, what takes you to a different brand? Why does this not still work under one? Because I just think that’s so different from where most advisory firms end out. Or even as you had noted earlier, kind of the law firm model, like, a parent firm, but we have a lot of different specializations. What drives you to this point?
Tiffany: I think the fact that the firm has been around for as long as it has, and Steve’s…and what Steve had done, like, we have a really good business under Destiny Capital that covers all of them but that really, really speaks to retirement and high-net-worth planning. And so that was a place where I was like, “Okay, there’s this thing that exists and it’s doing really well, but yet our vision for the future and where we’re specializing and thinking outside the box, like, there’s so much on this entrepreneur side, and we are set up best to serve them.” Like, we’ve looked at the market, we do it differently. There really aren’t a lot of advisors that work with entrepreneurs. And there are reasons for that, but we do. And so it really just got to a place of like honoring Destiny Capital and being able to like grow that as well as honoring our future and where…honoring this vision of specializing in a place that we have the ability to serve them better than anybody and create massive impact.
But recognizing the fact that, again, messaging, experience, fees, planning, investments, like, how you manage all of that, they’re all different. There isn’t actually much synergy between them. The only synergy that comes in is when they have public market assets, Destiny Capital’s portfolios would manage those. And it would be a similar philosophy from that standpoint, but the actual investment philosophy and over and how we approach entrepreneurs is different. And so we actually tried for a year to really put it out there, and we got really good feedback from the market, the center of influence, and we were getting even more entrepreneurs, and they were loving the concept and all that. But entrepreneurs are coming to us thinking more of a traditional model. We’re having to really work through them with that. And so it was a place of like, we need the tongue in our shoes to match the tongue in our mouth. And we need to allow these things that don’t have a lot of crossover to exist differently.
Michael: And so can you explain a little bit more, and I know you’ll be launching this more fully in a few months, but just like, what is it you’re doing or offering or charging at Entrepreneurs Aligned that makes it so different from Destiny Capital that the rest of the website doesn’t work? Like, is this a business model thing of how you’re charging? Is this something else? What’s so different in practice?
Tiffany: I think it’s a couple of things. So we really focus on working with entrepreneurs, as we describe them as freedom fighting entrepreneurs. So they’re not necessarily the entrepreneurs that are coasting. They’re not empire builders. They’re really in a place of…they love what they do and they have really great ideas. They’re successful. So they’re making about $1 million or more in owner benefit, and they have income that generally fluctuates. But really, they have a large concentration of their net worth tied up in the business. And they don’t tend to put a value or have worth, like, put any sort of value to that business because they don’t believe that it’s true, right? Like, it’s not true until they sell it and the money is in their account. So they make decisions from a very different place. Like they may overfund qualified plans, they may hold on to too much cash. They may not have their capital stacked in a way to weather bad times because they’re not putting what is the largest concentration of their wealth into play for decision-making. And so what we found was that placing the business equity value at the center of the work that we do for them, where they focus most of their time and…their time and capital is focused, that that drives massive value.
And the way that we…we have fee structures that are associated to support that, right? So that means that they may not have public market investing in order to work with us to do that planning. And so if 90% of their wealth is concentrated in their business…and so we do that on a flat fee basis based off of our time and the complexity of work. And we bill on that quarterly. Or if they do have public market assets, then there’s some sort of balance between AMV and that flat fee. So we have three fee structures on that based on where they’re at in business life. The concept is different. So overcoming that traditional wealth management, sometimes it’s easier for them to think about the fee coming from their accounts versus the flat fee. So we’ve worked on that in three different ways to really make sure that we’re serving…we’re whole to serve the entrepreneurs that need, but the specialty is bringing value and putting their business at the center of our planning, and then, honestly, earning the right or the opportunity to advise them on their other capital as well, right? And that puts us in a position of really being the type of advisor we want to be for them, which is their entire world, or going over their entire financial world.
And the way we bring value is we bring valuation to the table. That’s how we work with our business owners, is a lot don’t have valuations. They may not get them unless they need like a loan or something along those lines, maybe an M&A transaction. And it’s something that goes…we have examples where they finally are going through…somebody’s approached them, they get the valuation, but then the deal doesn’t go through. So it must not be worth that. And so those types of things really show up, and they drive a lot of decisions that may not be a place to allow them to optimize their wealth, time, energies. And that’s what we’re looking to solve.
Michael: And so how are you actually doing this kind of helping them with business valuations? Like, do you have a business valuation expertise, or is that something you’ve formulated?
Tiffany: No, we have professional partners in which we’ve done all the vetting to work with. And then as a part of them onboarding with us, that’s something we pay for because they don’t do it themselves, and it’s a hurdle, and it’s really important. So that is how that works. It’s a part of the offering. But it’s an informal valuation. So it’s not something that holds up with the IRS. It’s not meant for M&A. It’s meant to really start to bring to life that like, this thing that you have, that your wealth is so heavily concentrated, it has worth. It has value. And we can start shifting how we’re making decisions and planning and how we utilize it to build your wealth, right? And so that’s really how we tackle that.
Michael: And kind of just to ask, like, who is that? Is that a local firm? Is that a national firm? I know there are advisors out there that are always struggling to find who can actually do good valuation work and work with advisory firms and their clients.
Tiffany: Yeah. I think they do ultimately have like a national presence, but it really is boutique. Like, it’s not one of the massive valuation firms out there. So he has the Colorado market and I think a little bit more around, like, maybe more regional. But it’s a more boutique offering and firm.
Michael: And what are they called? Or is it a person or a firm?
Tiffany: It’s a person. He works for Adams Capital.
Michael: And so help me understand, like, just chief growth officer role, like, what does a typical week look like for you at this point? What do you do on a week-to-week basis?
Tiffany: Being in a firm our size, I still meet with a center of influence and do some business development. And as a partner, I really see my role in bringing in business as a partner duty, right? Like, partners should be helping grow the firm. And so I do meet with some center of influence, and I do run our growth initiatives. I’m overseeing our entire Entrepreneur Aligned buildout. I’m overseeing the Destiny Capital buildout. So my role is really strategic and super collaborative, right?
And I spend time mentoring and nurturing our team and their business development skills. I run a business development meeting every week. And when I say I’m doing that, I’m…we have our planners who are in more technical positions and really are really responsible to deliver that value, now they’re going to have a lot of collaborations with a center of influence. So their role isn’t to go and make sure that the center of influence has the perfect synergies in working with us, opportunities for reciprocity, all that, that’s something done at a strategist, or I’ve done that for our firm. Their role is to really make sure that we’re nurturing and building that relationship and the client collaboration is awesome.
So they’re really reinforcing that relationship over and over and over and how we’re different in working with our partners and the community and serving clients. And so I have those conversations with them. Like, we’re talking about ways in which they can just add water to that, right? Instead of like, “Hey, do I need to go do the center of influence or it not happening?” It’s like, “Okay, here are your five centers of influence that you’re doing a lot of work on with clients. You’re going to meet with them quarterly. Here’s what you’re going to talk…these are things that you should consider talking about,” and we brainstorm that. And so I do a lot of mentoring and coaching in that way.
And then there are so many other things that come up. So I’m running P&L. So I’m checking on how we’re doing there and making offsetting decisions. A lot of visionary work. Jarrod and I meet weekly and make sure that we’re in alignment with what’s going on in the culture, what’s going on in the world. I beta almost everything for our firm right now. So it’s like, “Hey, we have this idea…” Like, “We have this idea, how’s that going to go work?” I’m out in the community a lot. So I just go to my people and ask those questions. And I nurture and brainstorm ideas. So like if we’re going to host a client advisory board, or what is our campaigns over the next year for like marketing? Jarrod and I do run a…have started a podcast called “Already Successful,” which is geared towards entrepreneurs. And so I’m looking at, how’s our growth one-to-one? How are we growing internally? How’s our team doing? And then how are we going one-to-many? Like, what does our reach look like? So any given week, all of that’s happening.
And then I do have presentations in the community or some thought leadership stuff. And I also help out with the Limitless Adviser program. I’m really passionate about helping other advisors in general. And I feel like business development and growth is a place that people are always asking about, and so I do give some of my time, and primarily do it through the Limitless platform.
Michael: So what surprised you the most about trying to grow and build and market an advisory firm?
What Surprised Her The Most About Growing An Advisory Firm And The Advice She Would Give New Advisors [01:27:46]
Tiffany: I think one of the things that surprised me the most, looking back on it, Destiny Capital was in such an incredible place and so ready for growth, right? Like, it seemed that way. When Jarrod and I met, it was like, “Okay…” Steve has transitioned a lot of the decision-making and stuff to Jarrod, and we’re ready, but the firm was a lifestyle practice. And I think I knew that, but it wasn’t just as easy as like, “Okay, guys, let’s go grow,” like, that is real transition. It is a vision change. It is a culture change. It is a core value change. And we did a lot of that work as a team. But there’s resistance with that. And there is an inevitable turnover when you’re changing philosophies. And that’s hard, right? That’s hard stuff to go through.
And so, what I realized is that the CGO role is…there is magic when you’re tying…when you’re building a growth culture and you’re not just building prospects. But that is not fast. And when you’re making that shift, you really have to have a lot of space for what comes up with it, like, that resistance to change, that there’s going to be turnover. And that wasn’t something like…going in, I was like, “Oh, great, everyone’s going to be so excited. Like, jobs for 30 years, and we’re going to do such great things and be so happy.” Funny enough, when you go into a growth culture, right, you’re doing…it’s shifting the like, you have to be seen to be valued. It’s like, no, like, you have agency over deciding how you’re going to spend your time because we trust that we hired really great performers and we’re going to do this. Or we went to unlimited PTO, and that was really uncomfortable for some people.
And I think those are things that I just didn’t realize would need space for people to wrap their heads around, get comfortable with. And then that’s true for growth in general, like, on everything. So as new campaigns come up and all that, like, really creating space for people to process that. And I’m a quick start, and I can move fast. And so it was really surprising to me that even though from the outside a firm looks like they’re really, really ready to grow, like, when you’re shifting lifestyle to growth, it’s almost like you’re starting, right? There aren’t processes to support growth. There isn’t messaging to support growth. Like, the team members are then still shifting from like what they’ve known and grown to having growth be there. And it’s uncomfortable. And so that was really eye-opening to me, that it wasn’t just like, “Yay, we’re all on board. Here we go.” That it was going to take a lot of time and space and, honestly, a lot of lessons that I didn’t realize, the leadership portion of it or the management portion of it. I’m so grateful for my team because we’ve really done this together, and we’re at a really trusting, open, great place. But we are almost two years into this, and we now have all of that infrastructure in place to really, really support what we’re going for.
Michael: So what’s been the low point for you on this overall career journey?
Tiffany: That’s a good question. What has been my low point? I work really hard to just honor the journey, to tell you the truth. The reason is, is because my failures and my challenges are…they make up your…they help you, right? They mold you. So I really try hard to honor it. I think if you would have caught me three years ago, I could have been like, “Ugh, so many things.” But now, like, now that fear of failure isn’t playing a role as much as it used to. That still comes up, but I don’t really know that there’s like a low point. There have been hard times, there have been hard lessons, but there really isn’t a low point. Like, I’m living and doing what I love, and I’ve created those possibilities for so many other people. So I just can’t help but feel really great about it.
Michael: So what was the hardest lesson then if there were a few of those bumps along the way?
Tiffany: A really hard lesson was the shift in moving into this growth culture and the fact that there were going to be people who that wasn’t their journey. That’s not what they aligned with. And because of that, Destiny Capital was no longer the place for them. That’s hard. That is really, really hard because my activist heart wants to fight for everybody, right? Like, I want them all to feel so good about what they’re doing and how they’re doing it. But what you have to realize is that that vision and that growth and creating that, like, that wasn’t what they found joy in beforehand, right? And the way that it was working. And so I really had to reconcile with the fact that that just has to be okay. But it has to be okay that some people are going to move on and it’s not for them. And that’s difficult. That’s really hard.
Michael: So as you look back on 10-plus years of your journey through the industry, what do you know now that you wish you could go back and tell you 10 years ago at the beginning of the decade?
Tiffany: When I look back on it, I really would tell myself like, “Get present to all…enjoy the opportunities that you have in each seat and honor them because…” Some of my greatest lessons come from sitting in my executive assistant role, right? Some of those things were, at that point, like, those times where I’m like…some of my most frustrating work or some of the things that really just irked me, or that I experienced, what they actually do is shape you and help you. So if you can approach that with gratitude and honoring that journey and being grateful for it versus focusing in on like all the reasons it’s awful, or it doesn’t work for you, that would be it because… And I really think there’s mindset shift in there as well, right? When you’re in a place of feeling like you’re not enough, it’s really easy to focus in on all the things that you’re not doing right or aren’t fair and all those things. And so there were moments in my career where that outshadowed the fact that when I now look on it back now, I’m like, “Wow, look at all the lessons I have. Look at why I get to think outside of the box.” Those are all things that I’m grateful I went through, even if they weren’t good, because I now have the opportunity to do it differently or do it better or do anything. So I think that would be it, like, just honor the journey because it’s a good one. And it shapes us.
Michael: So what advice would you give to newer advisors trying to build their careers and getting started today?
Tiffany: Don’t do it alone. I think one of the incredible shifts of, I think naturally in business, but certainly our industry is like, we no longer feel like we have…to me, it’s not showing up as like, we have the secret sauce and we aren’t going to tell anybody and everybody. Like, I think there’s this shift of like, we realize that our success is all greater when we’re all successful. And so don’t do it alone. Right? I am where I am because I was able to…I connect with so many other advisors. And when you connect with other advisors and other people, you learn so much faster or people give information. I rarely have to start something from scratch, right, because we have all these other advisors in our world who are giving away information or advice. And so to me, there’s that piece of it.
And then really looking into mentors, coaching. Investing in coaching is extremely powerful. I am a wholehearted believer after what I went through and how that shifted my life and world. I still invest in coaching to this day. I’m currently working with the self-care coach, right? Like, it shifts for me of what I feel like my coaching needs are and where I’m at. And so I’m…that’s where I really felt like I needed some work. So I’m working with a self-care coach. But coaching is also incredible, but it’s about not doing it alone.
Michael: So as we wrap up, this is a podcast about success, and one of the themes that always comes up is just the word “success” means different things to different people. As you’ve noted, sometimes the definition change for us as we go through our journeys as well. So you’ve gone down this path and made these shifts, but I’m just wondering, like, how do you define success for yourself at this point?
Tiffany: Yeah. So success for me is now all about having agency. Agency, again, over my time, energy, relationships, capital, and then creating that possibility for others to have agency in their life too, both through the clients that we serve, the team members that I have, and within the community. And that is success. It’s freedom.
Michael: I love it. I love the focus for it. I can tell in a positive way that you spent time thinking about that and then figuring out like, how are you going to express that in the work that you do, in the business that you do?
Tiffany: Yeah. Yeah. Thank you.
Michael: Well, thank you so much, Tiffany, for joining us on the “Financial Advisor Success” podcast.
Tiffany: Thank you so much.