4 Ways to Know You’re at the Right (or Wrong) Firm


September 24, 2019

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For any financial professional, choosing a firm to bring your practice under can be a complex process fraught by one glaring question: Is this really the right place for my business? To help those struggling with this question, we reached out to longtime financial planner Mike Buganski.

With decades of industry knowledge under his belt, Mike put together the ultimate guide to make sure you are at a thriving firm. If you are second guessing your current firm, be sure to ask yourself these 4 questions:

#1: Does your firm put clients first?  

MB: At firms I worked for in the past, it was obvious to me that clients took a backseat to products. I would run into situations where I would build on a relationship with a client and realize that I didn’t have an optimal solution for them. The wrong firm may attempt the ol’ square peg in the round hole—asking you to start pushing something that might not be in the best interest of the client, but unfortunately you are limited on what you can deliver.

The right firm for any financial professional needs to be empowered by world-class products, solutions, and partnerships. This allows you to give your clients a wide range of tools and solutions. The more support you can offer, the more trust you will build with your clients—this is the foundation to relationships that last a lifetime!

#2: Does your firm inspire a collaborative culture?

MB: A financial planner should feel empowered by those they interact with on a daily basis—from their colleagues to support staff. I came over to Skylight 6 years ago, and right away I felt a kinship between the other planners and myself. Top performers at the firm had no problem sharing their thoughts, insights, and techniques for building their business. It was an amazing experience for me—an opportunity to check my ego at the door and grow as a financial planner. If the firm you are currently working at is too uncaring or ego-driven to learn from one another, it is not a place you should stay for long.

#3: Does your firm overpromise and underdeliver?

MB: The danger of this industry is that it can be difficult to see through flashy promises and avoid “gotcha’s.” You may be in an interview where the hiring manager is telling you “Oh yeah, we do comprehensive fee-based planning” or “Yes, we do actively managed accounts” which sounds great initially. The problem is when you get into these firms, they may allow certain planners in their system to do certain things. Next thing you know, you are not meeting your personal goals because you were expecting all these resources, but you only ended up with a handful.

To be successful in this industry, you want to build your practice with a firm that is dedicated to transparency and honest communication. Firms with these elements at its core will fuel your entrepreneurial spirit and assist in growing your practice.

#4: Do you have any opportunities to give back to your community?   

MB: The most successful firms in the financial services industry see the work we do as a service to others. A firm like Skylight takes that commitment to service one step further, working with community leaders and local non-profits to give back to those who need it the most.

Some firms will only ever care about results, but a firm that recognizes the power of giving back to the community understands the true meaning of the word “service.”

 A career in financial planning can be as challenging as it is rewarding, and when it comes to the future of your practice nothing is more important than knowing you are at a firm that empowers you. If you can say that your current firm is client-focused, growth-oriented, entrepreneurial in spirit, and community-driven then your practice is under the right roof. If reading this guide only you made you more frustrated, then maybe it is time for you to check out our current positions page…we’re hiring!

Thanks for sitting down with us, Mike!