DuVarney raises another issue that should weigh appropriately on the minds of advisors facing these business model decisions-namely, diversification. We guide our clients in diversifying their portfolios, yet we put most of our eggs in one basket called "the business." Maybe advisors who keep things lean, extract generous income from their businesses, reinvest that income in a diversified portfolio and still have something to sell when they retire (albeit at lesser value than a firm that emphasized growth) know something the rest of us don't.

And who's to say the lifestyle practice can't grow? Not only does technology make one able to handle more client households than industry averages would imply, but growth occurs in other ways too. "I'm handling 150 households now," says DuVarney, "and I've transferred smaller clients to another advisor at Royal Alliance. I'll keep doing this such that the number of households I serve won't change, but the value of the assets I manage will continue to rise, as will the profitability of my client base."

OK, you say, but how does a "lifestyle planner" take time off? "There is the perception in the industry that you must be constantly available for clients, that you can't work from home, that you must have a big fancy office. None of it is true," DuVarney argues. "I don't interrupt time off with client calls. Because any emergencies in the form of voice mails come to my e-mail inbox, I check in every morning for about an hour when I'm away, but I don't carry a cell phone on vacation."

DuVarney, in spite of his success, says his practice is by no means perfect. "I continue to look at how to outsource more tasks as my practice grows, and there are technology solutions I'm still evaluating. When I can buy a software program like LaserApp Enterprise that retails for $399 up front and $199 annually, and that program then saves me eight hours of time annually, that's a no-brainer because when I am working at my highest and best use, I am worth more than $50 per hour."

What's important about technology, says DuVarney, "is the power it gives us as financial planners, husbands, wives and parents to be more efficient so that we can do other things, either work- or pleasure-related, with our lives. In my case, my technology and outsourcing solutions are helping me be a successful financial planner, father, husband, friend and family member. There is nothing more important to me than this."

Mitchel F. Keil
Like DuVarney, Mitchel F. Keil, CFP, owner of Integrity Financial Advisory of Fountain Valley, Calif., sees himself working with a fixed number of clients whom he gradually refines.

"I've never had more than 100 clients in 28 years of practice, and now have about 50. Over the years, I've kept working toward a more refined client base," he explains. "I've never needed a lot of employees or other partners, nor a large practice infrastructure, to do this."

Keil is more than satisfied to run with a small boutique practice of older, wealthy, retired business owners and executives. The fact that most have a similar makeup in terms of what they need and want just makes him that much more efficient.

Keil runs Integrity with just one assistant: his daughter. At capacity, his gross revenues come in around $350,000 with $20,000 in technology costs and $76,000 going to his daughter, much of which goes toward her college expenses.

Like DuVarney, Keil relies heavily on technology to make the magic happen-both desktop and online systems such as MoneyGuidePro (financial planning), Morningstar Office (financial planning), ProTracker (CRM), IPS AdvisorPro (IPS creation), FinaMetrica (risk assessment), et al. He also maintains a paperless office.