A decade ago, he says, he was focused on building a practice managing $100 million and delivering great service as a solo practitioner. Having achieved that, partly because of his love of technology, Yeske has in the last few years focused on building a business with employees-thinking big. Why the change?

In 2008, Yeske merged his practice with another former chair of the FPA, Elissa Buie, whose firm was in Vienna, Va. After their marriage and merger, Yeske Buie was born and the partners both wanted to "play big," says Yeske.

The pair hired a former executive director of the FPA, David Brand, to consult on a ten-year plan for their newly merged firm. "We wanted  to make ourselves dispensable," says Yeske.

"We wanted to have an impact," says Yeske. "To be taken seriously and gain credibility, we felt that we'd have to grow."

Initially, Yeske and Buie ran into staff issues. Gen Xers, who were their initial hires, suffered from an entitlement mentality, Yeske says. Gen Yers, he says, don't suffer from that mentality, he says. 

In addition, Brand coached Yeske to hire staff who he felt could run the firm one day. "The minute you use that as a filter in hiring, it changes the kind of people you hire," says Yeske. A common thread in this story is that firms planning growth are highly focused on hiring great people and not settling for anything less. Yeske Buie also began focusing on training and education of the staff.

"We started something we call YeBu U," says Yeske, "which is a continuing program for learning about financial planning." In addition, the firm in 2008 adapted ideas in their practice about sustainable retirement withdrawal rates espoused in research by Jonathan T. Guyton and William J. Klinger. Rolling out these guidelines for clients to follow, Yeske says, taught him that clients would find comfort in "evidence-based financial planning." In addition to applying for a trademark on that term, Yeske Buie began seeking to implement evidence-based planning ideas in other areas of their business with their clients.

Yeske says the firm is also implementing ideas learned from Schwab Institutional's Referral Accelerator Program. "That program inspired us to create a culture of referrals," he says. "Everyone in the firm now understands their role in supporting and identifying referral opportunities, and that has really helped us."

Communications with referrals sources has been stepped up. No longer does Yeske Buie have one list of contacts for press release, another for clients, and yet another for centers of influence.  All constituents are sent the same communications, which simplifies distribution of information and makes contacts more frequent.

The firm's approach with referral sources has also been rethought. Now the focus is on making a referral source look good with clients. "If your firm focuses on making a CPA and attorney look good in front of the client, they will want to send you more clients," says Yeske.

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