Last year around this time, our nation’s government was in the throes of the longest shutdown in history, and as President Trump and House Speaker Pelosi were arguing over when his State of the Union Address would take place, I decided to address the “state of AMDG Financial” in a blog post. At the time, we had solidified our firm’s plans for the future growth, codified our core values and guiding principles, and Becky Stroud and Ramey Becker had become equity partners in the firm.
It’s hard to believe another year has come and gone (although not hard to believe that the turmoil continues in Washington!). We made some fantastic strides in 2019, and I thought I’d provide you with an update on our year and our plans for 2020.
Thanks to referrals from our clients, friends and business associates, we increased the number of families we served last year by more than 10%, from 244 to 270. It’s both humbling and gratifying to be able to help clients achieve what’s most important to them, and we appreciate every opportunity. I’d especially like to thank those of you who took the time to meet with me to discuss AMDG Financial’s growth and succession plan in 2019 (a process that will continue this year), and all of you who continue to let us know how we’re doing by answering our post-meeting surveys. I assure you we read every comment and discuss them at our weekly team meetings, refining our processes as needed to incorporate your valuable suggestions.
We were also privileged to help many of you with your tax planning needs in 2019. In fact, when we tallied the dollar amount of all the Roth IRA conversions we did last year, it came to $2.273 million — meaning we were able to establish this amount as totally non-taxable for our clients according to their strategic tax, cash flow and estate plan goals. We enjoy integrating tax, financial and investment strategies for clients and view this holistic approach to financial advice as one of the most important services we offer.
Finally, we added some new faces to the AMDG Financial and AMDG Business Advisory Services team in 2019. Many of you have met Molly Wallace, who schedules appointments and assists the financial operations and tax teams. We were also excited to welcome Melissa Orlando to AMDG Business Advisory Services last fall as our new tax and accounting operations function lead.
A New Book
In March of last year, I became an author! It took nearly a year of researching, writing (and rewriting!), but The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Financial Well-Being became a category best seller on Amazon during its first week, and even received a mention in Inc. Magazine. As both an entrepreneur and a financial adviser, I was inspired to write the book after working with business owners and seeing how they could benefit from an integrated approach to their business and personal finances. This year, we’re continuing to spread the word through publications like CEOWORLD and others, and we’ll be sure to share these articles and stories with you throughout the year.
As part of our succession and growth plans, we extended an equity partnership offer to two additional team members in December and will be working with them to finalize their participation in 2020. If all goes according to schedule, we should end the year with five equity partners in AMDG Financial. This helps to ensure that we retain continuity and can continue to serve you well in the future. Believe it or not, lack of succession planning is a big issue for financial advisers around the country, and I’m very proud of our proactive process to support the long-term viability of AMDG Financial for our clients. A good succession plan takes years to develop, stabilize and mature, and the experts say you can never start too early. Although no partner retirements are imminent, I believe this is an important step to protect the firm and our clients against unforeseen circumstances.
Also on the docket for our team this year, a more seamless integration between AMDG Financial and AMDG Business Advisory services, our tax and accounting firm. While we operate as two separate businesses, a number of you use the services of both firms. With better integration, we hope to achieve a more collaborative, well-designed and intentional team that can support the weight and complexity of your needs. As I wrote in The Entrepreneur’s Guide to Financial Well-Being, the shift is very like what Atul Gawande described in his book, The Checklist Manifesto. Gawande discussed that in premodern times, massive structures such as the great cathedrals of Europe were built at the instruction of a master builder — a person who held all the necessary knowledge in his head. The master builder directed huge teams, but the projects weren’t collaborative. Today, when a skyscraper is built, there’s no master builder. Instead, an integrated master-team of architects, engineers and others work together in constant communication. Gawande, a surgeon, notes that the field of medicine has moved from the master-builder model to one of immense complexity. I see the same thing happening in financial services. Increasingly, I believe clients will be less likely to find one perfect adviser — with all the knowledge in his or her head — and will instead need a collaborative team to help them achieve their goals and dreams. Adding team members and integrating our two businesses is a step in that direction.
As we begin the new year, I’ve never been more optimistic about our clients, our firms and our future. As a team, we’ve worked together to iron out our processes, trained ourselves to manage “crucial” conversations with each other and our community, and prepared to earn your trust, now and in the future. In 2020, I hope you’ll continue to provide AMDG Financial and AMDG Business Advisory Services with your valuable feedback, challenge us with your toughest questions, and share your important milestones with us. Best wishes for a happy and prosperous new year!