My guest on today’s podcast is Brett Danko. Brett is the Founder of Brett Danko Educational Center, a CFP Board Education and Exam Prep provider, and the CEO and Managing Partner for Main Street Financial Solutions, an independent RIA based in Newtown, Pennsylvania, that oversees almost $2 billion in assets under management for nearly 1,700 client households.
What’s unique about Brett, though, is how he has leveraged his passion for teaching to build one of the most popular CFP exam prep programs in the country, while also growing his own RIA to $2 billion in AUM… by focusing on just his unique financial planning strengths, and learning to delegate the rest by hiring a President, Chief Operating Officer, and Chief Financial Officer, who focus on the day-to-day management of the firm itself.
In this episode, we talk in-depth about how Brett teaches industry professionals seeking their Certified Financial Planner certification by providing comprehensive fast-track courses that span just 7 months and end with a live virtual or in-person exam prep review, how Brett iterated on and evolved his exam prep programs with a recognition that as he puts it, there is no “CFP cum laude”, and consequently keeps the focus very directly on what it takes to pass the exam (because you have a lifetime as a practitioner to keep improving and deepening your knowledge afterwards anyway), and why Brett jokingly refuses to acknowledge when his students humor the thought of failing because he believes that planning for failure is just giving yourself permission to fail and that an important part of passing the CFP Board exam (and achieving goals in life) is believing in one’s self and visualizing success.
We also talk about why Brett personally only offers financial planning on an hourly basis and leaves asset management to the other advisors of his RIA (so that he can have the flexibility to teach his courses while still gaining experience and knowledge as a practicing advisor), why Brett structures his firm as almost a platform for advisors, where, even though the advisors are technically W-2 employees and the firm pays for their staff, overhead, and technology, they own their own clients, and design their own fee schedules and portfolio models so that they can focus more on serving their clients to the best of their ability, and how Brett manages his time and obligations as a Founder of two businesses that each have their own management teams (his advisory firm Main Street Financial Solutions, and the Brett Danko Education Center) by recognizing that he’s a “macro” person and has to surround himself with “micro” people who are good at all the micro-details to make sure everything actually gets done.
And be certain to listen to the end, where Brett shares what it took to get comfortable with delegating so much responsibility for his businesses to key team members, how, after losing a job in his early 30s, Brett suffered from severe depression, but through therapy, found the confidence he needed to reinvigorate his passions and ultimately decided to outline a ‘manifesto’ of goals he wanted to achieve which included launching the advisory firm and educational courses that he spent the past 20 years building, and why Brett suggests that advisors in their 20s should seek out mentors not just to learn but also to help them recognize in themselves their strengths and their weaknesses because it’s that self-awareness that makes it easier to find the work and kind of firm you’ll truly enjoy for the rest of your career as an advisor.
So, whether you’re interested in learning about how Brett structures his CFP exam prep courses and his fast-track programs, how Brett differentiates his programs from other CFP educational programs, or why Brett believes strongly in developing firm culture to grow a successful business, then we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast, with Brett Danko.