Yeske Buie in the Media: Investor’s Business Daily Interviews Elissa Buie
Recently, Elissa talked with a reporter from Investor’s Business Daily, Morey Stettner, for an article focused on the lifecycle of a financial planning firm. Elissa shared experiences including starting her own firm, important decisions she’s had to make, and other insights related to Elissa’s experience building Yeske Buie. Today, we feature the interview between Elissa and Morey to share with you pieces from Elissa’s journey over her remarkable 33-year career.
- IBD: When you left a big firm and started your own practice in 1993, did you think of yourself as an entrepreneur?
- Buie: When many of us set out around 25 years ago to start our own financial planning firms, we were starting our own practices. We didn’t think of them as businesses. But as time went on, that began to change.
- IBD: At what point did you see your firm as a business?
- Buie: There were a couple of inflection points. The first one occurs when you hire your first and second employee. I hired my first employee in 1994. From there, you start to face a series of issues that go beyond what you’re used to doing, which is being a financial planner. You have to think about payroll, managing workflow and all these other administrative things.
- IBD: So once you addressed these practice management issues, you shifted your focus to growing the firm?
- Buie: As you become a business, you realize there’s a point when there is too much non-client work that is just not getting done or not getting done well. And that’s when the owner stops doing the books. You hire a bookkeeper, an office manager. You outsource compliance. That’s how you free up your time to grow.
- IBD: You did your own books at first?
- Buie: Yes. I did our payroll with QuickBooks. But as your firm grows, you start to say, “I don’t want to do this anymore.”
- IBD: So you got to a point where you hired people — or outsourced key roles — so that your business could run more efficiently?
- Buie: That’s all part of the life cycle. There’s this shift that occurs when the organism is operating with enough staff so that the owner doesn’t really need to see everything. The owner is still involved, but the business is operating outside of the owner’s peripheral vision. It was good to get to that point. But it can be disconcerting for control freaks!
- IBD: When you launched your practice, did you anticipate all these stages of a firm’s evolution?
- Buie: Going in, I had no idea where I was headed. I was having kids, so I was building a lifestyle firm that would give me some flexibility to raise the kids.
- IBD: As your firm grew, was it hard to recruit and train staffers?
- Buie: When I hired my second employee, I knew she was great right from the start. I wanted a high-end person, someone who could do lots of things, because I was entering into two years as president-elect and then president of ICFP (Institute of Certified Financial Planners). I paid her more than I could afford, but less than she was worth. She chose to take a pay cut to join us.
- IBD: How did you persuade her to come aboard?
- Buie: We were kindred spirits. She was excited to be part of our firm. We were together for 10 years, and she was an amazing support person.
- IBD: You’ve volunteered to serve in leadership roles in the financial planning industry. Why?
- Buie: It leads to building your practice. And you’re around the best of the best in your profession and you learn from them. You get back so much more than you put in. Plus, it builds credibility. The professional associations send us to make media appearances; I was on “The Today Show.” Clients love that.
- IBD: Reflecting on the life cycle of your firm, what has been the toughest challenge to date?
- Buie: There have been two tough stages. When I had my first three employees, I remember a staff meeting where I’m adding up how much that meeting was costing me. It sounds silly, but it’s a hurdle for sole practitioners to get over. The other scary phase is now. We’ve trained a management team of three people who have bubbled to the surface. The three are getting a lot of authority to manage people. It’s a big transition.
- IBD: You and Dave Yeske are in your 50s. Do you have an exit strategy?
- Buie: We want to build something without us. And we want to create careers for our employees. We’ve brought a value system to this firm over the years. Now that everything no longer passes across our desk, we have to believe that the people we develop will make decisions based on our value system.
The full article titled A Prominent Financial Advisor Steers Her Firm Toward Steady Growth can be found on the Investor’s Business Daily website.