The motivation and inspiration behind one advisor’s leap of faith
Building a practice from scratch after years in a team environment may sound tempting. Or daunting. Certainly not easy. But for some it may prove to be rewarding.
In early 2022, after more than 20 years in the industry, Kaysian Gordon chose to go out on her own. She talked with The Flexible Advisor about how she came to that decision, lessons she has already learned, and what makes hard days bearable.
The transformation of a career
The details of Gordon’s professional journey are, in some ways, unique. Yet the overall arc may resonate for many advisors. In short, her employment situation did not align with her personal priorities.
“I'm a Seventh Day Adventist and I observed the Sabbath. But my job required me to work on Saturdays after church. I said, ‘God, if you don’t want me to work on the Sabbath, you'll have to find a job for me.’ I was soon hired as an intern at a large wealth management company. From there, I went into public accounting. Two years later my former boss invited me to return. That was in 2005 and I stayed until 2019.
At that point, I felt it was time for a change, which I thought would be moving to another large team. Once again, faith played a big part. I sought guidance and came to realize that the next step for me was to basically start again from scratch, with no clients and almost no revenue.” Despite the formidable challenge, she was confident that it was the right decision at the right time. “I have never regretted it, not for a single day.” she said.
“I have to be intentional about the business I'm building.”
– Kaysian Gordon
A philosophy for investing, and for life
“Realizing that slow progress is progress is paramount,” said Gordon. “My business will be built with incremental changes over the long term. That way it will be more sustainable. I still have to tell myself to keep moving forward. What's the next micro-action that I can take to keep moving the ball forward?”
This point of view extends to Gordon’s approach with her clients as well. “When you try to get rich quick, that's when the biggest mistakes are likely to happen. If you are able to do it in a methodical way, you are also able to enjoy life. I'm very big on what are you doing to enjoy the fruits of your labor now instead of waiting for retirement, because that may never come. If you pass away prematurely, you will have saved all this money and never enjoyed it. When you build wealth incrementally, you'll see huge changes over time.”
Personal passion, professional strengths
Two key elements, in addition to her faith, provided Gordon with valuable clarity: She knew who she was best suited to serve, and she knew her specific skill set. “I wanted to serve women who were just like me. As a woman of faith, I understand how daunting it can be for women like me to discuss personal, financial matters with a virtual stranger. I believe that my experience in working with ultra-high-net-worth clients, along with my ability to discuss complicated topics in a simple and relatable way sets me apart. One of the things that I aim to do is to make talking about finances fun without judgment. ‘Okay, this is where you are. How do we help you to get to where you want to be?’ Without the judgment. I think there's enough of that. So just to be able to enjoy the conversation, laugh through it, cry through it if we need to.”
Gordon’s LinkedIn profile distills her purpose and value proposition quite simply: “I empower professional women of faith who are going through a financial transition. I guide through various stages in your life, whether you're mid-career, divorcing, widowed, or planning for retirement, I can help.”
Slow progress is progress.
What micro-action can keep moving the ball forward?
Know your ‘why’ and stay anchored to it.
Although this chapter of Gordon’s story is just beginning, she has already made some important discoveries. “I have to be intentional about the business I'm building. And sometimes it's not always about dollars and cents.” As she explains, “I took on a lot of clients that were not the right fit. I went from working with ultra-high-net-worth to some who were not yet ready for the level of guidance I offer. I had to bring myself back to a middle ground, blending the fundamentals with the more complex aspects of planning that I enjoy. I would have started at a higher fee for ongoing guidance and focused on clients with more complicated needs from the beginning.”
For an advisor weighing the transition to a truly independent practice, Gordon offers two key considerations.
First, “Make sure your financial life is where it needs to be, that you have the runway to get you started for the first few years of business. I think we underestimate how long it's going to take to get going. Typically, it's three years before you start seeing any real income.”
Second, and equally important, “Know your ‘why’ and stay anchored to it. For me it was having the freedom and flexibility to do the things that I want to do with my daughter, and still have a career that I enjoy.
On the hard days I remember why I do what I do, and it keeps me going.”
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