Welcome back to the 306th episode of the Financial Advisor Success Podcast!
My guest on today’s podcast is Cean Kenefick-Rogers. Cean is the CEO and co-founder of Ironwood Wealth Management, an independent RIA based in Chandler, Arizona that oversees just under $550 million of assets under management, for nearly 500 households.
What’s unique about Cean, though, is how the path that he and his partners took to break away from the insurance and brokerage worlds to run their own independent RIA inadvertently created a three-way struggle to find the proper compensation and accountability structure across their differing books of business, and ultimately forced them to seek third-party intervention from an industry consultant that eventually allowed them to restructure their partnership roles and compensation… which then unlocked their next stage of growth and scaling up the business.
In this episode, we talk in-depth about the journey that Cean and his partners took, from originally starting their careers at an insurance company, then moving on to a brokerage firm, until they ultimately decided to transition to an independent RIA and on the advice of their attorney drop their FINRA licenses altogether to reduce the risks to their RIA and simplify their ADV, how after struggling with infighting over proper compensation and accountability amongst the partners and almost reaching a point of dissolution, Cean and his partners sought help from an industry consultant to help restructure the firm roles and create compensation structures that all partners agreed were fair and would help the firm refocus on growth, and why shortly after taking on the role of CEO after that restructuring, Cean decided to implement a minimum quarterly fee and expand into an assets under advisement model that manages clients’ held-away 401(k) plans through Pontera… increasing both the profitability of the firm, and the happiness of their clients who now receive a more holistic service.
We also talk about how Cean leveraged the firm’s custodial relationship with Schwab to access one of their internal marketing consultants, which then led to Ironwood hiring an external marketing firm that revamped their website and Google searchability, increasing their visibility and digital leads to the point the revenue they received from onboarding new clients more than paid for the consulting, how, even though Cean proclaims to be a competitive person and does well under pressure, he was nervous about doing the right thing when taking on the role of CEO and turned to his friends who inspired him to form a firm advisory board to gain more confidence that he was making the right decisions for the firm, and how, despite understanding it would be difficult to launch and run an advisory firm, Cean was still surprised by how much work it actually takes… and even more surprised by the fact that he truly enjoys it.
And be certain to listen to the end, where Cean shares how, even though all the partners, including Cean, agreed he should take on the role of CEO in their new firm structure, it was challenging to adjust to viewing the firm not just as an advisor but its leader, and navigate the new pressures that come with having sole accountability and decision-making responsibility for the firm, why Cean wishes he and his partners dropped their insurance and FINRA licenses much sooner, as it would have given them more of an opportunity earlier to apply a laser-like focus on how they wanted to provide value to clients, and how Cean measures success beyond just his own contributions to the firm, but instead by building the right internal structure to support his employees so that they can continue to thrive, grow, and find their own successes.
So, whether you’re interested in learning about how designating Cean to the role of CEO helped realign the firm and created clear hierarchal structures, why Cean and his firm pre-schedule all of their client meetings for the year in advance, or how Cean and his firm implement service teams instead of departments, then we hope you enjoy this episode of the Financial Advisor Success podcast, with Cean Kenefick-Rogers.