By John P. Napolitano, CFP®, CPA, PFS, MST

Being a student and a business owner in the wealth management profession, it became clear to me years ago that the most successful firms or practices were not necessarily owned by the smartest people in the profession.

In many businesses, the skills to perform the services or make superior widgets are not necessarily the same as those required to build a successful business that performs services or makes widgets. These successful entrepreneurs figure out what resources and talent they’ll need to scale and grow the business, invest in their business, and execute on a business plan. I think I learned that in the first week of business school. But then somehow, the process of becoming a CPA sucked me into thinking that being the most technically competent was most important, until I realized that I was an entrepreneur, and not built to do audits and tax returns.

In the wealth management profession, the best of the best have the entrepreneurial thing figured out. They have competent staff, powerful outside resources, capital and a business plan to generate growth. The owner likely started as a practitioner in one of the more common starting places for wealth managers, such as investments or insurance, but then became a business owner and focused on what they do best and began to surround themselves with competent staff to do everything else.

What these successful wealth management owners have also figured out is that it is not the deepest mastery of the technical matter that sets them apart. Their services are distinct from others in that they understand their clients and their lives extremely well. They’ve mastered the soft side of personal financial planning in a very bonding way.

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