My guest on today’s podcast is Brad Arends. Brad is the Co-Founder & CEO of Intellicents, an independent RIA with 12 offices across the country and headquartered in Albert Lea, Minnesota, that oversees $6 billion in assets under management for more than 3,000 client households.
What’s unique about Brad, though, is how he built a multi-billion-dollar advisory firm not by moving ‘upmarket’ to gather multi-millionaire clients, but instead leveraged his 401(k) retirement plan advisory firm to begin offering comprehensive financial planning to the employees of large companies as an added employee benefit, and in the process scaled his financial planning business around the mass affluent American worker.
In this episode, we talk in-depth about how, after realizing that his 401(k) plan participants were not being advised after they retired (and were being poached by brokers and agents trying to sell them on high-commission annuities), Brad decided to expand his business into wealth management so that he could offer advice to his mass affluent clientele into their retirement years, how Brad struggled to transition his retirement plan advisors into wealth management advisors because of the different mindset it takes to service an ongoing financial planning relationship but was able to acquire-hire the advisors he needed by finding a firm that had already established a business model working with the clientele Brad wanted to serve, and how Brad ultimately evolved a multi-pronged model of retirement plan advice, group insurance benefits, and personal financial planning to reach the $3,500 of revenue per client that he needed to be able to really scale the business.
We also talk about how the approval of the Pension Protection Act and the backlash against revenue-sharing agreements amongst retirement plan recordkeepers led Brad to decide that a flat fee would be the best way to provide their initial advice offering, why, to avoid the fee compression as a 401(k) recordkeeper (and reinvesting in expensive technology to keep scaling), Brad decided to sell the recordkeeping offering that was 80% of his business at the time to create more bandwidth to offer personal wealth management for their clients instead (and use the profits of the sale to help fund the new initiative), and how Brad leveraged the data he already had access to from providing 401(k) advisement for companies to create personalized one-page financial plans for its plan participants to illustrate the value of financial planning and connect them more directly to the firm’s advisors.
And be certain to listen to the end, where Brad shares how even though he experienced multiple false starts with his business transition, with multiple failed hires, he stayed committed and ultimately found it was better to acquire a firm to get the talent he was seeking than to just try to hire it directly, how Brad now wishes that he got into wealth management sooner and believes that younger, newer advisors would benefit from acquiring their CFP designation as it can help them broaden their career opportunities in wealth management, and why Brad feels that even though he has built a sustainable firm with great talent that can live on beyond his leadership, he has no intention of selling his business and plans to continue his journey of expanding his firm to provide more affordable financial planning for more mass affluent American workers.
So, whether you’re interested in learning about how Brad structures fees for worksite financial planning, how, when Brad sold his recordkeeping business, he was able to ensure that the 120 employees he would have to let go found a new home with the new owners of the business, or how, by combining group insurance, 401(k) planning, and wealth management, Brad was able to dramatically increase his firm’s revenue, then we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast, with Brad Arends.