Describe what your company does? Heritage Advisors is a multi-disciplinary financial services firm that combines, under one roof, the primary financial professionals required to build life-long wealth. Our firm provides a specialized family office experience, previously only available to ultra-high net worth individuals, by combining a law firm, CPA firm, wealth management firm, and insurance firm. Our business model allows us to give much more comprehensive advice than any single professional working in isolation. Our ultimate goal of helping our clients build and preserve wealth is achieved by collectively focusing asset preservation, financial planning, and investment management through the common lens of strategic tax planning. The orchestration of attorneys, CPAs, and financial advisors allows our clients to ask any financial-related questions during any given meeting and instantly receive an appropriate response by the respective professional and immediately put into motion any necessary steps to accomplish the plan.
Describe the success you have experienced. When reflecting back on the past several years, we are much more inclined to describe our success in philosophical terms versus financial. We have successfully implemented a middle-market multi-disciplinary practice, which is a tremendous philosophical shift in the professional services industry. We believe the market is moving in our direction and that a decade from now there will be far fewer single-discipline financial professionals. We believe we are many years ahead of the curve. Our measure of success is the overwhelmingly positive reception the market has given us with respect to the viability of a multi-disciplinary practice. As described below, we have experienced exponential growth. We believe our business model offers a more complete and therefore better level of service, and the amount of growth we have experienced is an indication that the market agrees.
Describe the growth your company has experienced and what spurred that growth. We founded the company in January of 2014. At that time the company consisted of three individual – myself, and Michael Frost, the two founders, and one wealth management employee. Roughly 21 months later, we now have 20 employees in two states. We have grown from approximately 150 clients to just over 2,000. Additionally, our wealth management practice has grown from $4 million of assets under management (“AUM”) to over $101 million as of today. Many advisors will work their entire career without reaching the $100 million AUM mark, which is a significant accomplishment in our profession. As noted above, we believe our growth is mostly attributable to our superior business model. We are very good at our given professions, but there are many professionals that are equally good at their respective profession. Our exceptional growth is therefore attributable to a firm that is fundamentally different than our competition.
Give one example of a challenge you have faced and how you handled it. CPAs, financial advisors, and attorneys naturally have different personality types. Our greatest challenge was addressing the cultural difficulties that follow rapid expansion exacerbated by the inherently different personal types across the various disciplines. We have made it clear that each profession is an equal part of the overall equation and that no one discipline is more important than the others. When we enter a meeting, we take our respective profession’s hats off and we collectively and systematically solve our clients’ problems. That approach to building life-long wealth has created an atmosphere that rewards collective team work, rather than individual professional accomplishments. As a result, our firm’s culture has quickly generated a wonderful and collaborative environment.
How you funded your business. The business was originally funded with $14,000 from both Ralph and Michael. At that time, it made up every penny we both had in savings. We were all in.
What are your non financial goals for 2016? Our major firm initiative for 2016 is to expand brand recognition throughout our two geographic markets – Phoenix and San Francisco. We believe we have proven concept in an extraordinarily convincing way. We have also hired an exceptional team and therefore have the capacity to accept new business. Those two components are the foundation upon which we can now build our brand and become more widely recognized. We have been actively attending community events, updating marketing materials, and developing a deliberate marketing strategy.
Why did you become an entrepreneur? We believed deeply that there was an opportunity in the market to make a material impact in the way financial professionals provide advice to clients. The market was deficient, and clients were not receiving as complete of guidance as they deserve.
What motivates you as an entrepreneur? We have always enjoyed the thrill of taking a calculated risk. When we were all-in with every penny of savings we both had, it created a high that in indescribable, a passion that only an entrepreneur can truly appreciate. Our deep confidence in our business model reinforced our nerves during difficult moments, but ultimately the thrill of taking a risk in order to move an age-old profession is what motivates us.
What skills are necessary to be a successful entrepreneur? (1) Servant leadership with appropriate delegation. As leaders in a new company, we must strike a healthy balance between truly serving those who work for us, while having the courage to delegate responsibility. It is important for our employees to look at us not as dictators, but as leaders who serve the company alongside the other members of the team. (2) Focus on long term values versus near term opportunities. To move a market, it is essential that we have a focus on the long-term health of the company, even if it is at the expense of short-term profit. (3) Leaders marked by humility and thoughtfulness. Our employees are our most valuable asset. The challenge is to empower them to uphold the vision we set for the company and execute with excellence. The tone starts at the top, and we believe it should be marked by humility and thoughtfulness.
Why are we a good candidate for 35 under 35? Entrepreneurs need to be able to set a vision for a market shifting idea, leave the security of a job to pursue it, and build a team to implement it. Finally, entrepreneurs need to actually be successful in moving a concept from a business plan into a profitable operation. Without each one of those components, a good idea is merely a good idea, and not a business. We have accomplished each element and created many jobs as a result. Most importantly, we believe we are serving our clients in a superior way. For those reasons, we believe we are excellent candidates and we are honored to submit our application for the 35 entrepreneurs under 35 years old competition.