1. We love the name of your firm, Black Dog Financial Planning! Tell us a bit more about how you landed on the idea to name your company after your dog, Barkley.
I told myself if I ever started my own business, I wanted to name it something memorable and meaningful. I ran the name by my wife Katie and she thought it was a great idea. Our dog Barkley is a big part of our family.
2. Tell us more about your decision to join organizations like NAPFA, XYPN, etc. and how they’ve helped bolster your new firm.
Approximately 5 years ago, I covered the NAPFA national conference as an exhibitor for an asset management firm. I met a handful of NAPFA members and listened in on Michael Kitces’ presentation. A great deal of the conference resonated with me and the lightbulb went off. I knew I somehow had to get involved in financial planning. XYPN and NAPFA are two of the leaders in this space and have really paved the way in the industry. They both offer an incredible network and great resources for independent RIAs.
3. Being prepared and having efficient initial meetings with new clients is incredibly important. We love that you’re beginning that process on your website with a downloadable client questionnaire. How has this impacted your initial meetings for both you and the client?
I think the client questionnaire is very useful to help guide the initial conversation. It gives us a great frame of reference for the appointment setting us both up for success from the beginning.
4. Now that your website is up and running, what are your next steps in terms of marketing?
I am hoping to further build out my blog and stick to a weekly schedule with new posts. Eventually, I would like to start recording some short videos as well.
5. What are three things that you simply could not live without either in or outside of work?
My family, our clients, and cold brew coffee
6. What is the best piece of business advice that you have ever received?
At my first job out of college, the President & CEO Joe Flanagan stressed his 4 pillars of sales. I think they are awesome business principles.
- Have a positive attitude
- Shut up and listen
- Ask good questions
- Product knowledge….Rumor has it he’s added a 5th since I left. Grit.
The Twenty Over Ten website creation process was extremely easy and efficient. Working together with the team was great, and their communication was top notch. They gave very accurate time estimates, and even delivered earlier than expected on most items.
-Michael Hakimi CFP®, Black Dog Financial Planning
7. As most businesses around the world have been working from home for the past two months, do you have any tips for creating a good working environment while not in the office?!
It’s important to have a completely separate workspace from your primary living area, as much as that is possible for you. We are fortunate to have a FROG (finished room over the garage) in our house. When I started the firm, I turned it into my office. It has a great view outside, which really helps too!
8. If you could share one top tip for other advisors who are looking to redesign their website, what would it be?
Use Twenty over Ten (hah just kidding, but not really!). I would say make it personal. I reviewed many different advisor websites when we were creating mine. There is a certain sea of sameness amongst most advisory sites. Most have very canned content, with the typical pictures of a retired couple on the beach, or on a boat. I think you need to personalize the pictures and the content when available.
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