I started my business career as a stockbroker and after some years moved up to office manager of a large NYSE firm managing their Dallas office. I left that firm and started my own securities firm and soon added real estate as a major component of my business.
We built 17 office buildings and 32 duplexes and a home or two before the real estate bust of 1985. Having added the Certified Financial Planner designation a few years earlier, I began to work with families and later small businesses in the area of tax, investments, insurance, and estate & trust planning.
So I have been doing this kind of advisory work for about thirty years. In the mid – nineties, I earned a masters degree in finance and so have been most comfortable in the money arena all these years.
What Are Business Owners Like?
Most business owners are specialists in their chosen field. Often they started up, say, a widget business in their garage and over the years have expanded it to 50 employees and sales of over one million. And they really know the widget business inside out.
Where they are less comfortable is in the peripheral areas of corporate planning i.e. banking, law suits, employee relations, insurance needs, government compliance, accounting, and tax planning. These areas are common to all businesses, so by working with many businesses over the years, we have developed some knowledge and skill in these areas.
And the business owner can gain access to that knowledge by bringing us in on a consulting basis. We can help them do some significant strategy planning.
How Are the Decisions Made?
The business client always has the responsibility for the final decision. We do not attempt to make his/her decisions for them. Generally we discuss his concerns and list all the options we can think of. Then we discuss the advantages and disadvantages of each option and come up with a strategic plan.
We may venture an opinion but we never push our view because it really is not fair for us to do so. We are advisers not decision makers.
One of my clients occasionally reminds me of the time years ago, when his father and I, sitting on his board of directors advised him not to start a certain new business for many good reasons. He was under capitalized, and did not know the industry to name two. He had never lost on a business deal, so he did not follow our advice and lost $2,000,000 on the deal. It took him years to recover. Fortunately we were able to help him grow his base company from half million in sales to $10 million.
What About Other Advisers?
Most businesses utilize several corporate advisers. We often serve as the quarterback of a team of advisers which include his attorney, accountant, insurance adviser, banker, and members of his board of directors. We often facilitate his board meetings, sales training conferences, and annual meetings. The purpose of all corporate advisers is to help the company in it's growth planning and help them meet their business objectives.
So, whether it is in reviewing the property side of a divorce mediation, or in direct consulting with a business owner or manager, I have an experience level and comfort level in numbers, investments, tax issues, and decision making that I feel adds value to my participation in my client’s financial affairs.