Kevin Skogen, CFP®, ChFC®
Seven years ago, the iPhone 5s was the latest model, Tesla hit a major roadblock and the outlook looked grim, and Mainspring was just getting started. Suffice it to say, a lot can change in seven years. I remember the days leading up to our first official day being filled with excitement, anticipation and, if I’m being honest, a little trepidation. Before we solidified the decision to strike out on our own, the five founders sat in a room and discussed what it would be like to run our own independent practice and what principles we wanted to lead with. What came from those discussions were the pillars in which we built Mainspring: always put the clients’ best interests first, lead with honest and transparent conversations and never compromise on our culture. What we have built over the last seven years is something we are all incredibly proud of.
One of the biggest differences of Mainspring today is how we interface with clients. Prior to striking out on our own, we typically worked in one or two person silos. Today, we have built an incredible team -- including Associate Advisors, a Strategic Director, a Paraplanner, an operations and compliance officer and an investment committee that creates coordinated investment strategies for our clients -- all professionals that our clients can access at any time. We have surrounded ourselves with qualified people that challenge ideas, direction, and implementation of strategies, so that the quality of our work and every interaction with clients is unrivaled. There is no such thing as a one size fits all approach when it comes to planning. That's why we have intentionally built a team of individuals with specific areas of focus in which they become well-versed. Whether it be a focus on generational planning, working with business owners or retirees, or tax strategies through our strong alignments with CPAs, when we work with clients today versus seven years ago, we can bring in the right people with the right expertise so clients always receive the highest quality of service.
All that being said, as we continue to grow, it is paramount to the leadership team that we maintain the same culture that we started with. This is a relationship business and the same goes for the culture within Mainspring. When we make new hires, we look through the lens of, can this person add value, can they do business the right and ethical way, and can we still have fun working together? We don’t always have to agree on everything -- in fact, our business works best when we push the status quo and adapt to new strategies, so it’s important we have a culture of trust and a strong relationship to fall back on. We have never compromised on any of our requirements when building the team and the personal and professional growth I have witnessed over the years is astounding.
One of the biggest proof points of our organization and what I am most proud of is the retention of clients and team members. People don’t seem to leave us, and we have no regrettable attrition. The aforementioned focus on client interaction and culture all sounds good, but when it actually works is when I get really excited about what we have created.
The growth of the practice is evident, so I often get asked, ”what next?”. For me, the next big challenge is to sustain what we have built. It’s one thing to get to where we are today, but now I’m focused on how we maintain our growth so we don’t take unnecessary steps backwards or have to make decisions on the business that are not on our terms. I am also focused on identifying the next generation of leadership. The same way we work with clients to create succession plans for their business, we have to be focused on the long-term vision for Mainspring, ensuring the same values and culture is instilled for years to come.
There has been a lot of change in the last seven years, and for Mainspring it has been for the better. The team we have for clients today is leading us to the best work we have ever done. It is one thing to create something, but it is something else to create a business larger than itself. We have been able to maintain the same values, all while surrounding ourselves with people who challenge us to be better. I know as we continue on, the best is yet to come.
Certified Financial Planner Board of Standards Inc. (CFP Board) owns the certification marks CFP®, Certified Financial Planner™, CFP® (with plaque design), and CFP® (with flame design) in the U.S., which it authorizes use of by individuals who successfully complete CFP Board's initial and ongoing certification requirements.
Any opinions are those of Kevin Skogen, CFP®, ChFC® and not necessarily those of Raymond James. Investing involves risk and you may incur a profit or loss regardless of strategy selected, including diversification and asset allocation. Past performance does not guarantee future results.