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Good Is The Enemy of Great

June 1, 2010

I recently have been setting aside substantial time for serious reflection and life planning. I reflected both on personal issues as well as on my business, and I wanted to write this letter to our clients and friends to share the vision that resulted.

Over the last several years, I am proud to say that we have done a good job of listening to our clients, caring about their needs and concerns, and crafting financial plans to meet their goals. This is exemplified through client feedback, solid growth, and client retention near 100%. But good is not enough. To borrow from Jim Collins, author of Good to Great, "Good is the enemy of great."

To me this quotation isn't related to money. Instead, it's related to growth. What this means to me is that one must keep striving, not be content with past achievements, and have an overriding vision and purpose to their life—something they have to stretch for and continually grow towards. Essentially, if you're not growing, you're dying. I believe this applies to both personal and professional growth.

There are many areas where I desire to grow personally—once again playing the guitar and piano, vacationing more often with my wife, having children in the near future, and making sure I'm the best dad I can be just to name a few. Professionally, I feel a true societal obligation to grow True Wealth Design—to both serve our current clients with greatness and to expand our capacity to accommodate the needs of more people who need the help of a competent, empathetic, and trusted financial planner. And while I'm passionate about all of these goals, they're at least in part at odds with each other, as they all require time—perhaps the most precious resource of them all.

To be trusted guides as we help clients shape and realize their life dreams & goals.
(True Wealth Design Mission Statement - June 2010)

These professional growth initiates are going to require changes. They are going to require continued growth. If we are to provide the level of service and tailored advice required to be great, advisors absolutely must have a limited number of clients. As such, I have been hiring additional staff, including competent associate advisors to increase the firm's capacity. Further, I will be limiting the number of new clients I personally take on and will generally work with the most complicated client cases. This will allow me to devote more of my time to leading the organization, further improving the technical expertise of the firm, and implementing these enhanced solutions into client plans and portfolios. All firm clients will benefit from this whether I am working directly with the client or if the client is served by our overall team.

Additionally, we will be focusing on implementing robust financial life-planning processes into the business to help our clients foster their own personal growth and to make life transitions such as retirement easier. These life-planning processes will also better enable us to know our clients and to help align clients' planning to their dreams and goals. I expect the results from this initiative to be even more profound than anything we may add technically.

Lastly, I want to ask you our clients and friends to be an integral part of our vision. You know someone who needs help. And if you've been happy with the service and advice you've been receiving, I'd like to ask you to suggest we provide the help they need. I have personally seen time and again how bad financial decisions--self-inflicted or resulting from poor advice or sales motives--negatively affect the quality of peoples' lives. It doesn't have to be this way. And as we continually grow our firm's capacity, we'll be able to help more people find the peace of mind they've been missing.

If you have a suggestion to help us continue to improve, please contact me.

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