TIMOTHY KNEEN – FOUNDER

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Tim began providing financial consulting services to institutional investors and select families over 30 years ago. He began at Dean Witter and became one of the youngest Vice President’s in its history. He went to enjoy a 20+ year career with Citigroup, where he became a Director with Citi Institutional Consulting. Just before Citigroup became owned primarily by the US Government, United Bank of Switzerland recruited he and his team to join. He later founded IFAM Capital, a firm started with his longtime partner Clayton Hartman from Citigroup and UBS and grew that firm into one of top 100 Registered Advisory Firms/Wealth Management firms in the country as measured by Fidelity. During those years Tim helped develop the investment methodology’s, created the “Known Return” portfolio, and lead business development. At his retirement IFAM was billing in excess of $10 million in annual revenue and was managing well over a billion dollars. His experience is unique in that few firms of this size have accomplished the “triple crown” successfully. Moving between wire-house firms, from a wire-house to an independence, and then successfully transitioned that firm to the next generation of advisors within the firm. He has grown a firm from a few hundred thousand in annual revenue to over $10 million using both organic and acquisition related growth. He was at the forefront of building unique income sources away from traditional wealth management and being able to look outside the box for solutions. Few advisors have this “Real Life Experience.”

While at IFAM, Tim and his team have received numerous awards. He was elected President of the Association of Professional Investment Consultants (APIC), and has served on the association’s chair of both the Research and Evaluation and Conference Committees. He has been awarded the associations highest honor, the Tom Gorman Award, to acknowledge his service to the industry. Tim was also awarded the prestigious “40 Under 40 Award” by the Denver Business Journal, naming him as one of the top 40 young entrepreneurs in the Rocky Mountain Region. He is recognized as one of the “Top 100 Consultants in America” in Barron’s, #1 Consultant in Colorado by the Denver Business Journal, “Top 1,000 Advisors” by Barron’s, NABCAP Premier Advisor for Financial Planning and as one of the top Consultants by Research magazine. Tim is a regular speaker at national conferences, a published author and is regularly interviewed in the media on the economy and investment topics.

Tim’s experience working outside of financial services is likely behind his success in working inside financial services. Tim has been quoted saying, “Until you as an advisor have truly sat in the same chair as your client how can you understand what is best? How do you advise them on how to develop or manage their business, sell or transition their business, unless you have done the same? Tim has started five companies, taken a company public and sold the other companies to both synergistic and financial buyers. He has been a successful real estate developer, as well as business owner of manufacturing, sales and marketing and distribution companies. He has owned/managed in industries as diverse as scrap metal, to golf to fashion. This “Real Life” experience gives him the background to be able to consult to business owners from many walks of life about how to grow their companies, whether or not to seek monetization of their life's work and if so how, as well as working with Family Offices in managing the transition of wealth and knowledge to the next generations.

Today Tim continues to share these “Real Life” experiences with other entrepreneurs across the country through private consulting and speaking engagements with his firm Lumina Consulting.

Tim completed his undergraduate work at the University of Denver and received his CIMA® certification from his work, sponsored through the Investment Management Consultants Association, at the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

Tim is involved with his church, as well as with several local and national charities. He has co-founded and chaired events, including the Red Lady Ball, the Denver Victims Rock and Roll, Sunrise Africa, SaddleUp! Foundation and many other events. He enjoys golf, skiing, tennis and mountain climbing, among many other sports. Tim is married with two children and resides at Colorado Golf Club.

MAXWELL T. SMITH – FOUNDER

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Max’s core focus has been within the financial services industry having nearly a decade of experience working within the industry. Max managed the marketing and sales as well as assisted with operations and research for a Senior Institutional team at UBS. In that time Max learned the ropes of what it meant to be a billion-dollar team at a large wire-house firm. In 2014, he helped lead the transition with Focus Financial Partners to move the team to independence, in creating IFAM Capital. He assisted in building and on-boarding their platform as well as created the firms marketing collateral and developed the firm’s sales and marketing plans.

Upon IFAM’s opening Max managed the marketing and sales team for the firm helping advisors implement and develop their sales process and marketing strategies, he performed portfolio analytics for prospective clients as well as created financial plans for incoming clients. In addition to this he led the merger and acquisition team and chaired the firm’s Marketing Committee. During his time at IFAM Capital the firm completed multiple transactions including building an internal asset management and corporate retirement services division. He led in the building of the asset management platform as well as led the transition of multiple tuck-in’s helping the firm grow nearly 50% in revenue during that time. He also assisted in developing the firms and their advisor’s growth strategies both organic and inorganically. While at IFAM, Max also consulted to other RIA’s and business owners in regards to organic growth strategies, succession planning, merger and acquisition strategies as well as operational and platform guidance.

Max is a founder of Lumina Consulting and today focuses around consulting to wire-house advisors in not only the break-away process to independence but also assists in the development of the new firm’s operational platforms, succession strategies as well growth strategies each unique to the firm’s objectives. In addition, Max works with established independent financial firms in creating their own unique growth strategies, creating succession plans and develop operational efficiencies to be able to increase productivity. He also works with independent financial firms looking to get into merger and acquisitions and assists them in developing M&A strategies, provides assistance in firm due diligence, proforma creations, valuations, deal structures as well as transition and tuck-in consulting post-closing. He also assists business owners outside the financial industry in developing succession strategies and create capital events and works with owners to develop growth and business strategies that are unique to meet the company’s objectives.

Max currently lives in Denver and enjoys skiing, golfing and hiking as well as in a member of the Denver Rotary’s Emerging Professional Cohort.

 The 10 things I wished someone had told me before I went independent

 The 10 things I wished someone had told me before I went independent

John Wooden, ESPN Coach of the Century for his work in basketball at UCLA gave a speech called “Winners Make the Most Mistakes” and said:

“The team that makes the most mistakes will probably win. That may sound a bit odd, but there’s a great deal of truth in it. The doer makes mistakes. The individual who is mistake-free is also probably sitting around doing nothing. And that’s a very big mistake.”

I can say that Coach Wooden was right as I have certainly made a lot of my own mistakes along the way of being a “doer” in the industry.  There are many things I learned from building a sole practice at a wire-house with about $3 million in annual revenue, to building that practice into a large partnership at a wire-house, moving that practice between wire-houses, then moving to independence where I sold some equity to a Private Equity firm, and eventually transitioning my remaining ownership to the next generation of advisors in my firm that had billings around $10 million a year at my retirement.  In reference to Coach Wooden, I did a lot and learned a lot on my way through the challenges that were presented to me.  This paper presents the 10 most important items that I learned while moving my practice from a wire-house to independence.

  1. The biggest advantage of independence is not the extra income you will earn by not paying the “house.”  It is a combination of the massive difference in what you will receive for your life’s work in an exit strategy and the ability to grow your practice far more efficiently between now and then using M&A.
  2. The amount of time that would be spent “running the company” on items that were provided, or didn’t need to be worried about at a wire-house, was drastically underestimated.  It was made even more time consuming when that company had debt and Private Equity partners with strict reporting and operating standards that must be adhered to. This took at least 1 full-time, very senior, employee if not 1.5 full-time employees (FTE).
  3. The client experience (how a client interacts with his or her money re things like client statements, reporting, etc.) would be drastically different.  I didn’t say it was worse, but the amount of time spent orientating staff and clients to this, correcting mistakes, working with software vendors was drastically underestimated. It accounted for an additional FTE.
  4. The importance of having something that makes your firm unique without a major brand name behind you.  Generalist are less likely to be successful.
  5. Compliance is just as complicated outside a big wire-house and it would take a full-time person to deal with it. If you’re counting that is at least 2.5 extra FTE and their benefits.
  6. M&A sounds sexy but it takes a combination that is also very unusual to be successful.  You must have the 4 P’s:platform, people, performance, and profits.   Most firms I met never get much done even though they put lots of time into it.
  7. With that said, M&A is the single biggest category that can change your firm.  If your average account generates $20,000 in revenue and you can acquire a firm that does $1 million in revenue you would have to find and close 50 new clients to reach that. Not many firms do that each year. Unfortunately, it can destroy your firm as well if all partners are not on board.
  8. Independence is advanced ownership. You must want it bad.  It is not for those who want to balance lifestyle, family and work.  It is not for those corner office wire-house advisors who want to come to work at 9am and leave at 2pm.  The grass simply isn’t greener on the other side without a lot of hard work.
  9. Technology must be managed in the world of independence.  The need for a full-time technology person or at least part time will become apparent quickly as there are always new opportunities to improve what you are doing, problems with existing software or hardware, and the need for someone to be current.  For those of you counting we are up to 3-4 FTE in the new personnel department.  In short, you will have a new organization chart in the world of independence.
  10. There are lot of partners out there to help you.  Highly qualified people who can add great value but they also ALL want something. Knowing what each gets, how that will affect you 2, 5, and 10 years from now is critical and extremely hard to understand unless you have been there.

Here is the good news.  We have learned this and much more, we have stood in your shoes, we have made mistakes, and yes, we have had some successes.  But, more important we can help you know what we wished we had known.  We can help you see the things we wished we had seen so you can make the right decisions.  We are Lumina—a point of light on your business issues!