Why Did I Do This?

Ronnie Colvin, MS, CFP® | July 9, 2023

When I decided to close my RIA and go down this road of being a fractional planner, you can well imagine I got a lot of questions about it, most of which revolved around my "why". So let's chat about why and what I hope to do with my business and career.

Having my own RIA was never a goal in itself for me. It was only a means to an end, or so I believed at the time. My journey to having my RIA is a story for another time but once I had it, it turned out that it wasn't really what I wanted or needed after all but I had to go through it all to learn that. Interesting that in life sometimes you have to figure out what you *don't* want to find what you *do* want. Ultimately my goal is to do work I enjoy that helps the people I'm doing it for.

While I was waiting for my RIA to be approved by my state, I needed something to do to occupy my mind, keep my skills up, and generate a little revenue. Not an uncommon problem for startup advisors, right? So I put the word out in various forums that I was looking for some back office planning/paraplanning work to do while I waited and got a few inquiries. One of those turned out to be 18 months' worth of work (part-time). That particular advisor wanted a CFP®-level person to work with, both to get work done and as a sounding board/2nd pair of eyes on everything. Someone to be able to talk through thorny client issues, implement some process changes, do research, and be an Associate Planner on a contract basis. I never met with clients and could work at any time I wanted (day or night), as long as the deadlines were met. Since this was during the height of COVID, it was clearly a remote, WFH, position.

BAM, it clicked for me! I enjoyed meeting clients but I was never very good at wearing both the advisor hat (active listening, asking leading questions, being something resembling a therapist, that whole thing) while I was also wearing the personable, friendly, lets-get-to-know-each-other hat. I just couldn't find a way to blend those two and it was a source of frustration for me. But here was an opportunity to do the things I enjoyed while not having to do the things I didn't - perfect!

And so the seeds of what would become Fractional Planning were sown.

As a Fractional Planner, I could define the work I would do and the work I would leave to the hiring advisor (client-facing tasks and portfolio work) in a way that allowed me to do what gave me energy and not do what drained me of my energy. As an engineer in my prior career, I enjoyed doing the behind-the-scenes technical work, creating the solution to the problems in front of me, and then handing that off so I could move on to the next problem. Yes, it would mean I never get much recognition for it and I would never be at the top of the compensation ladder, but that's ok with me. I can hopefully make a good living doing the work I enjoy and I get to turn it off when I want and not hate my job. It's all about that work/life balance and doing what "sparks joy" while avoiding the stuff that doesn't. That turns out to be my "why".

My hope is that Fractional Planning can be a great fit for a small handful of advisors that need and want help with their technical planning work. At the same time, they can focus on other areas of their advisory practice or just free up time for them to spend with their families. I can be a stepping stone for their growth while creating a good job for myself, giving us both a win.