Welcome back to the 334th episode of the Financial Advisor Success Podcast!
My guest on today’s podcast is Meg Bartelt. Meg is the Founder and Lead Financial Planner for Flow Financial Planning, a virtual RIA serving mid-career women in tech that oversees almost $60 million in assets under management for 60 client households.
What’s unique about Meg, though, is how, over the span of 7 years since launching her firm, she has evolved the business by repeatedly adapting her niche focus, iterating on different fee models, experimenting with various client meeting cadences, and both increasing and decreasing her staff headcount with various support team structures, all in the journey of honing in on the ‘right’ type of practice that Meg will enjoy running, and serving clients with, on an ongoing basis.
In this episode, we talk in-depth about how, when Meg launched her firm, she began with a $150 per month minimum fee but quickly realized that it was not enough to sustain the business she wanted to build and began to raise her fee minimums to what ultimately became $10,000 per year minimum (after her business coach helped her realize that is what her financial planning is really worth to her clients), why Meg evolved her niche focus from working mothers in tech to early to mid-career women in tech with a specialization in pre-IPO and IPO planning as she realized by being more specific, she could create better efficiencies in her own practice by simplifying what she did (and didn’t) need to focus on for her clients, and how, after a year of experimenting with surge meetings, Meg decided to go back to annual review meetings because she found the structure didn’t allow enough flexibility for the unique complexity of her clientele… and created challenges in finding the ‘right’ time to take on new clients.
We also talk about why Meg chose her niche focus of women in tech because she believes that what makes a niche market really powerful is finding clients with a shared identity (as that makes it easier to find where they gather to reach them), why Meg feels strongly about setting fees in explicit dollar amounts and actually locks her clients’ annual AUM fees at a fixed dollar amount that resets once each year, and why Meg views evolving her firm over time as a comfort, not a frustration, because it allows her to keep finding better ways to serve her clients while also creating more space for herself and a better experience in managing her practice.
And be certain to listen to the end, where Meg shares how she sought advice from her business coach, therapist, and colleagues to come to terms with having to let a staff member go to relieve some of the economic constraints her practice was experiencing after a year of market volatility and changes in the tech industry in 2022, why Meg feels comfortable with evolving her fee model, service model, and other aspects of her business because she feels that as long as she holds true to being there for her clients when they need her, she is continually building a successful business despite any ongoing changes, and why Meg feels that she is now transitioning to a second stage of her life where she prioritizes less on maximizing the income of the business and more on creating more space and freedom in her business to foster deeper relationships with her clients, those around her, and especially, her 2 daughters.
So, whether you’re interested in learning about how Meg adjusted to changing family dynamics when she became a business owner, how Meg handled the unfortunate situation of having to let a staff member go which was not due to performance issues, or why, as a business owner, Meg feels it’s sometimes better to experience when something doesn’t work to better understand why, then we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast, with Meg Bartelt.