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The agile approach financial advisors need to start adopting for growth

If you’ve ever heard of the agile method, it implies an iterative and incremental method of management, most likely in reference to development and project management.

It focuses on helping teams in an evolving landscape and maintaining a focus on the rapid delivery of business value.

The primary focus of agile project management is to be lean, reactive, and flexible. As new risks and opportunities are identified, the team can act quickly, take advantage of opportunities, and mitigate the risks. Just like in agile project management, agile financial planning allows you to manage your clients’ funds in a more flexible and intuitive way.

Who better to talk about agile financial planning than Roger Whitney, financial advisor, instructor, author, and podcast host—just to name a few of his credentials. As a vocal champion for agile processes, according to Roger Whitney, these are the five principles of agile financial planning:

1. Collaboration rather than delegation 

Many clients want to delegate tasks to their advisors, and advisors love that. But when they simply delegate what they want rather than collaborate with you, you’ll both miss out. By working together with your clients you’ll be able to come up with better solutions.

2. Predicting the future will prove you wrong 

As financial geeks, we love to create spreadsheets and models predicting the markets, taxes, and finances. But we can't know what will happen in the future. It's too unpredictable. Instead of trying to predict the future, help your clients build a framework for a fluid environment. Work on what is actionable today.

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3. Prioritize 

There is so much to think about when it comes to personal finance—budgeting, long-term and short-term savings goals, how to save, cash reserves, and much much more. All of this can become overwhelming when you try to do it all and convey it to clients. The old system tried to tackle all of these areas at once, but with agile financial planning instead, we prioritize. Look for the biggest risks and opportunities first to help the client and yourself focus.

4. Flexibility helps you dodge the curveballs 

Having flexibility creates options and various tracks you can follow when met with uncertainty. It also allows you to quickly pivot or change gears when met with an obstacle.

5. Communication is key in agile methodology 

Have frequent little conversations rather than big ones. Frequent communication allows you to identify risks and make changes as needed.

With Roger’s nontraditional path to success, especially for financial advisors, I asked him how he was able to leverage agile methodology across his business. He shared how he found a way to be his authentic self and get his message across to attract the right people through podcasting. But the way he achieved hockey stick growth was to keep pressing on and shifting to meet the demands of his business.

For example, when marketing, it’s important to know whom you’re talking to—your audience, ideal client profile type, persona—whatever avatar you’ve honed in on. When you try to talk to everyone, you end up talking to no one. It’s a common phrase in marketing, but when you’re able to define your specific audience, you’ll start to attract people that are thinking about the same issues you have a solution for.

When applying agile practices to your business, it’s also important to understand where you are in your own lifecycle. For example, if you just launched your own firm, you’re probably in “hunter-gather mode,” trying to nail down as many clients as possible. But if you have a more seasoned practice, you might be considering what types of clients you want to serve, and the ways you want to serve them, which may lead you to start thinking about your business as cultivating an apple orchard. The primary difference here is that one approach is here and now, while the other is long-term.

The two ways of working can be done in parallel, it’s just understanding that one approach might take a lot of nurturing, time, and resources to mature, while the other approach is paying your monthly bills.

When it comes to marketing, time works in your favor. Keep consistent, keep pushing, and you’ll see the seeds you planted mature into success.


Disclaimer: Altruist and its affiliates do not give legal advice. The views expressed in this video by the participants are solely their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of Altruist Corp or its subsidiaries. No compensation was provided.


About Grow

Grow by Altruist is a show dedicated to bringing business growth advice to advisors, by advisors. I'm your host Dasarte Yarnway and each week I sit down with industry professionals as they share their best ideas around attracting new prospects, building a successful firm, and keeping clients happy. Watch more episodes here.



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