Welcome back to the 330th episode of the Financial Advisor Success Podcast!
My guest on today’s podcast is Ari Weisbard. Ari is Managing Partner of Values Added Financial, an independent RIA based in Washington, D.C., that oversees $143 million in assets under management (AUM) for nearly 75 client households.
What’s unique about Ari, though, is how he and his partner, Zach, not only initiated fee minimums to ensure that they could profitably serve their clients, but subsequently have intentionally raised, and then lowered, their fees and minimums to slow down and then increase their growth pace during different stages of their business based on their firm’s advisor capacity, and at least simply to create space for themselves to sustain their own healthy work-life balance.
In this episode, we talk in-depth about why Ari and his partner implemented a minimum fee for new clients as the business grew, raised the minimum as high as $15,000 during the pandemic, and have since cut their minimum fee back down to $6,000 even as the firm has added more advisors and overhead, how Ari and his partner got comfortable positioning their firm as one that serves clients with progressive political values (which they ultimately felt would ensure clients were aligned with their own personal values, and in turn could both help them better serve their clients, and alleviated the concern of whether their political advocacy outside of their firm could alienate clients with differing political views). We also talk about why Ari and his firm have leaned into values-based investing to further differentiate with their unique clientele not by utilizing ESG funds, but instead choosing ETFs that are more proactive with their proxy voting, and implementing Ethic Investing to offer clients a ‘Personalized Indexing’ approach while also capitalizing on the tax benefits of tax loss harvesting.
We discuss about why Ari and his partner sought to bring more diversity to their hiring process not by trying to seek diverse candidates, but instead by removing industry-specific certification requirements and offering paid parental leave so that they can attract more diverse candidates who have the essential communication and client empathy skills that they can train internally to get up to speed on the technical knowledge. We moved to how Ari recognized that he suffered from anxiety and imposter syndrome early in his career and decided to seek help through both personal therapy and George Kinder’s life planning training so that he could let go of some of the fear that he had in growing and scaling the business beyond Zach and himself, and get comfortable with not having control of every aspect of the business as it grows, and why, as the firm raised and lowered fees, Ari was not afraid of losing opportunities to find more clients because he felt that clearly defining their values and how it aligns to their business will always give them an opportunity to find the right types of clients when the firm is ready to grow more (while also ensuring they are growing the business based on the values that matter to them and not just purely from an economic standpoint).
And be certain to listen to the end, where Ari shares why he feels that though he made more of an intellectual impact in his former profession as a lawyer, he feels more fulfilled now as a financial advisor as he can feel more of an emotional impact as he helps his clients feel more satisfied in their own lives, why Ari believes that younger, newer advisors would benefit from demonstrating their listening skills rather than having the answer to every client question (as he has found that’s what really provides more value to clients). We conclude with why Ari feels grateful that the advisory business model is so successful, as it takes away the pressure to focus on the business economics and instead gives him more opportunities to connect with the human aspect of financial planning and create deep and meaningful relationships with the people around him and in his life.
So, whether you’re interested in learning about why Ari and his partner raised fees during the pandemic to slow growth and give them more space to focus on their families and their own well-being, why Ari and his partner lowered fees later on because they wanted to be more inclusive to the types of clients they served, or why Ari and his partner feel their values-based planning helps their progressive clientele make more of an impact on the world with their money, then we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast, with Ari Weisbard.