For most advisors, success means getting their business off the ground, supporting a growing client and employee base and still making time for their family. A noble achievement.
But for others, that's not enough. Some have developed procedures or tools in their practices that they want to share with others. For instance, they may have created software for themselves that turns out so good they form side businesses to sell the programs to other advisors.
One advisor trying to share what he's learned about dealing with executives and business owners is Brett Ellen.
As the CEO of advisory firm American Financial Network in Calabasas, Calif., Ellen is one of Securities America's top fee advisors and top producers. But he's also the founder of the Collaborative Services Platform (www.afn-net.com/section10.cfm), a program that trains advisors in high-level methods for working with business owners, including rarefied executive compensation plans and tax strategies.
"We started CSP three years ago," Ellen says. "Working with small businesses all the way up to Fortune 500 companies. We take great plans and make them come to life for executives when the rep doesn't know how to take all the steps."
After three years, CSP has trained more than 70 advisors in these strategies for business owners. "My goal is to have 250 'green beret' advisors in the next few years," he says.
The CSP consists of three components: corporate benefit advisory services, premium executive planning and another Ellen creation-the Financial Solutions Alliance, a consortium of some of the most respected and accomplished professionals in the financial, business and legal arenas who serve shared clients.
Ellen, who founded the American Financial Network 26 years ago, is the son of an insurance professional. "When I was younger, I traveled with my father to see his clients-many of them farmers insured for disability by Pennsylvania Life Insurance. I didn't meet too many people with five fingers on each hand, but I loved hanging out with dad and watching him interact with people."
Ellen worked in his father's firm while in college, but decided he was more of a wealth manager than insurance agent. When he started his own company, he knew he wanted to collaborate with other professionals. "I developed 'think tanks' with those professionals and the client sitting around a table and hearing what the client had to say," he says.
His business veered toward business owners, most of them high-net-worth individuals, and that forced him to bridge the gap between planning for businesses and planning for people. His financial advisory unit eventually built up a roster of 2,700 clients for whom it does financial planning and investment management with a team of 22 employees.