We make
your business
work for you.
Joan M. Ridley
Pres., CFP™, CEPA, CBI

2911 Turtle Creek Blvd., Suite 300
Dallas, Texas 75219

E-MAIL:  info@businesswealthsolutions.net
PHONE: 214.692.9192
FAX: 214.523.9001

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How to know if You Should Stay or Go


Joan M. Ridley, CBI, CEPA, CFP™

What the Financial Advisor Brings to the Table

Finding the right financial advisor for you is a very personal matter, and, making the right decision is more important than you might think. It's just as important as identifying the right attorney or CPA.

For most lower mid-market business owners, the majority of their investible net worth is tied up in their business. If you fall into that category, you might think that you don't need a financial advisor until that equity has been unlocked and is ready to be invested. I disagree with you for several reasons. Here are a few:

  • Without a very detailed lifetime cash flow projection, with credible assumptions, you really won't know what amount of capital you will need to have invested to support your lifestyle, including: the personal expenses that the business currently pays for; future gifts for your children; and future charitable contributions
  • While I can estimate within a range of value, how much we can increase the value of your business, and what your investment will be, I rely on the financial advisor to tell me if we need to increase your net after-tax proceeds and how much.
  • Without the valuable information that the financial advisor can provide, you could commit to an exit strategy that is inconsistent with your needs and goals, with no option to call off the deal
  • The best financial advisors bring more to the table than lifetime cash flow calculations and investment and insurance recommendations
  • It takes time to find the right advisor for you and your spouse or partner to create the needed trusted advisor relationship because a successful relationship with a financial advisor involves so much more than investing your money

How and Where to Find the Right Advisor

Start with an understanding of the expertise you need and become knowledgeable about the various professional designations that pertain to personal financial advisory. Of course just because someone has a particular designation does not mean that he practices in that area or that he has the expertise that you require, but it's a start. For instance, although I maintain my CFP™ professional designation (earned in 1983) to keep current on issues that impact my client's personal affairs, I am not a practitioner. Also, It is just as easy to select an advisor who has far more expertise than is needed as it is to select someone whose expertise falls short. Become familiar with the various professional designations and what it entails to earn and maintain one. Beyond the professional designation, you would be wise to learn about the various licensing. The license that an advisor holds is an indication about how he is compensated, both investments and insurance.

Some Additional Questions to Ask

  • How is he compensated: fee only, fee and commission, or commission only and what percentage of each comprises his total compensation
  • Do you have a clear understanding of the letters after his name
  • Are you more interested in his personality than his level of expertise
  • Does he have the level of humility and professionalism required to collaborate with your other advisors
  • Have you outgrown your current advisor
  • Does he work with lifestyle, or, wealth builder business owners. Be sure you know the difference. What Kind of Business Owner Are You?
  • Has he worked on an Exit planning team and what was his experience
  • Is he an Independent Registered Investment Advisor (RIA), or is he an Investment Advisor Representative (IAR)
  • Is he familiar with the value enhancement approach to positioning the business if exiting for top dollar is your goal

Please e-mail us at today at jridley@businesswealthsolutions.net to request a free chart that compares the facts about the top four personal financial professional designations.

Copyright 2015 Joan M. Ridley


Joan M. Ridley is President of Business Wealth Solutions, a business consultancy that helps business owners protect, preserve, and enhance value, usually in rpeparation for ownership or management transition to family, employees, other shareholders, an outside third party, or a non-profit, while identifying and removing obstacles that could derail achievement of the client's goals. She is a Certified Business Intermediary, Certified Business Exit Planner, and a Certified Financial Planner™. In 2013 she received the first Excellence in Exit Planning Award conferred by the Exit Planning Institute for her pioneering contribution to this new discipline. She is the Founder of the North Texas Chapter of The Exit Planning Institute. Call 214-692-9192 and visit www.bwsllc.net.

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