Stephanie Holmes is founder and CEO of The Money Finder, a financial services training company, based in Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.
After a decade-long career as a financial advisor, Holmes discovered that her real passion was to make cash flow planning a standardized process in financial services. Upon this discovery, she sold her book of business and now shares her expertise with financial advisors across Canada.
In an interview with Small Business Trends, recorded in April 2016 at the Infusionsoft ICON conference, Holmes talked about her passion for providing clients with expert financial advice. She also shared other valuable tips for small business owners and entrepreneurs, to impact their bottom line.
A Passion For Financial Services Training
When she became a financial advisor, Holmes had high hopes she would provide exactly that, advice, only to be sorely disappointed.
“When people see a financial advisor, what ends up happening is that they leave with products, which are also important, but that’s not financial advice,” she said. “I was an advisor for ten years and became extremely frustrated by the fact that, although my managers said I was going to help people, all they taught me was how to sell life insurance.”
Holmes went to her managers, telling them that she was encountering clients with $100,000 or more in annual income but who did not know where their money was going. To her dismay, the response she received was less than supportive.
“[My managers] patted me on the head like a Cocker Spaniel and said, ‘Don’t be so naive. If people don’t know where their money is going, it’s not your problem,’” she said.
The response proved to be the catalyst Holmes needed to pursue a career path that more closely aligned with her goal of providing cash flow advice to clients.
“I determined that, if I couldn’t find a course, structure or method to make it a regular thing for my clients to come to me for advice about how to manage their cash flow, then I would create one myself,” she said.
Holmes then sold her book of business and built what eventually became The Money Finder, a financial services training firm that provides online training for financial advisors.
“When we started The Money Finder, we thought we would focus on helping the public directly,” she said. “What we discovered, however, was that financial advisors serve as accountability partners for the person, so we made them our client instead.”
Cash Flow Planning Advice
Through her financial services training products, Holmes created a way for every financial advisor to provide their clients with cash flow planning advice.
“We give advisors the tools to do what they were recruited to do: fund people’s dreams,” she said. “I can’t tell you how many times financial professionals send us emails or come up to us at conferences and say ‘This is what I thought I was going to do when somebody told me I should be a financial advisor, yet I had never been given the tools until today. You changed my life.’”
The change in direction not only resulted in a payoff for Holmes emotionally but also financially. This year, her company will earn nearly $3 million in recurring income.
“We’ve grown our revenue by 750 percent in two and a half years,” Holmes said. “From early 2013 to early 2016, we went from very little income to tracking toward $3 million in recurring revenue. Also, during that time, we went from just me and a virtual assistant that I used a few hours a week to 17 full-time employees.”
Advice for Small Business Owners, Entrepreneurs
During the interview, Holmes shared three pieces of advice for small business owners and entrepreneurs that, although not directly related to financial matters, could impact the bottom line if put into practice.
Stop ‘Doing’ and Delegate
Holmes advised that business owners stop doing busy work and learn to delegate, focusing instead on activities that grow the company.
“All the things you do in your day where you tell yourself ‘No one but me can do this’ or ‘I can do it better’ or ‘I can’t trust anyone else to do it,’ if you’re doing a lot of tasks you have to stop,” Holmes said. “Instead, what you should be doing is setting the vision, removing barriers and turning people into leaders.“
Create Space in Your Schedule
She also advises business leaders to make space in their calendar and appointment book for time to think.
“To be a great entrepreneur, founder of a great company or a great CEO who grows your business and multiplies your people, you need time to think,” Holmes said. “Make room in your calendar and appointment book and protect it like your life depends on it. Make sure your team protects it as well, as the most valuable revenue-producing time in your entire schedule.”
Learn to Decide
“Decide to succeed,” Holmes advised.
“The word ‘decide’ in Latin means ‘to cut off,’ ‘to let go,’ to stop and move in a particular direction,” she said. “You should decide with a maniacal focus to only do those things that positively impact your life, your purpose, your mission, your clients, family and team. If that’s not what the task you’re doing at the moment offers, it doesn’t belong there.”
Image: Small Business Trends