Entrepreneurs are a different breed of cat. In working with entrepreneurs, successful financial advisors often consult their own ‘inner entrepreneur’, and model their behavior to be informed by what they know about entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship.
Here are 20 “truths” regarding entrepreneurs and how financial advisors might best serve them. We use the word “truths” cautiously. Although these “truths” have been compiled through our own research as well as through our observations of top-performing financial advisors, the statements may differ somewhat from your own insights and experience. If that’s the case, feel free to trust your instincts. There are no absolutes!
With that caveat, here goes:
- Real entrepreneurs view risk differently than the rest of us. When discussing the risk/reward scenario for the personal investment portfolios of entrepreneurs, financial advisors should be conscious that entrepreneurs might apply a different risk/reward prism with their business model.
- Entrepreneurs value relationships. Trust is paramount.
- Entrepreneurs don’t necessarily want a bound, 50-page report, chock-full of investment jargon that details the advisors' wealth management process. Give them the executive summary. Make it simple. Make it real.
- Like many of us, entrepreneurs are time-stretched…only more so.
- No two entrepreneurs are alike. (Duh!)
- With entrepreneurs, be prepared to get out of your office-cave. Many entrepreneurs favor short, on-site meetings.
- Building trust with an entrepreneur is greatly helped if you’ve done your due diligence on them, their company, and their industry.
- Like many other affluent investors, entrepreneurs favor referrals for personal introductions. Many entrepreneurs are also inveterate attendees of networking events.
- Working with entrepreneurs requires patience. Prepare to work with an entrepreneur well before a liquidity event. This might take years of waiting.
- With entrepreneurs, confidentiality is a must.
- Support the due diligence that you have undertaken with great questions…that stop the entrepreneur in their tracks, and compel them to think.
- Many entrepreneurs have strong, driven personalities…like many financial advisors. With two alpha personalities, someone will need to step back. You have two guesses who that might be…and the first one doesn’t count!
- Do not neglect the spouse. The spouse may be an integral part of the entrepreneur’s brain trust. The spouse may have worked for years behind-the-scenes to support the entrepreneur and the family. The spouse might be earning an income that supports the entrepreneur and his/her vision. In all cases, it is critical to build a relationship with the spouse, in addition to the entrepreneur.
- Entrepreneurs reject high-pressure sales tactics. They’ve seen it all before. They are more interested in building a relationship that prepares them for their future success, and insulates them from downturns.
- The best financial advisors to entrepreneurs have their own built-in network, and proactively use it. This network goes well beyond attorneys and accountants, e.g. information technology professionals, HR specialists, sales and marketing experts, etc.
- The best financial advisors know how ask for, accept, and share the burden...ultimately providing peace of mind to the entrepreneur.
- In the same vein, entrepreneurs want to be engaged, but not intimately involved.
- With entrepreneurs, the lines between business and personal financial lives are often blurred.
- Entrepreneurs expect to be delivered what was promised. Trust is fragile. Second chances aren’t granted easily.
- When a financial advisor successfully builds trust with an entrepreneur, expect to be brought into their inner circle. As such, the financial advisor may assume the role of a sounding board, trusted counselor, or some responsibility that extends well beyond how the relationship began.
Entrepreneurs are a niche market, and are not for every financial advisor. They are also an underserved market, due to the level of attention and complexity that they require.
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