Building a Business: The First Nine Months

Natasha Read, VP of Business Development
Apr 11, 2024 3.5min

Like many advisors in Canada, you’ve been entertaining the idea of what it would be like to start your own wealth management firm recently. You’re not necessarily unhappy – you run a good book with solid client relationships you’ve worked hard to develop over the years. Your associate and administrative team is functional. You’re doing well financially, and the idea of moving to another firm for a paycheck isn’t an enticing reason to disrupt your and your client’s lives. Still, there is something. Something asking you if “content” is as good as it gets. Something asking you if there is an opportunity to create your legacy.

Being an employee advisor has independence and some entrepreneurial elements, but what would it take to become the CEO and owner of your own business?

Like any business, you need to start with a plan. Your plan will take 9-12 months to build and implement and must encompass all areas required for your business to be successful. Let’s look at a hypothetical 9-month plan for an advisor who decides to take the leap.

Phase 1: 1-3 Months

Develop Your Vision: Arguably the most important aspect in determining your clarity and success upon launch. The good news is that it’s also the most fun and begins with defining your target client: who you love to work with and how you deliver value to them. Now is the time to get clear on your firm’s personality. Start to envision your office space, your business process, your team structure and their accountabilities, and who has equity in the firm. You want a clear idea of the value-added services you will offer and what that means for building your team. Do you want to grow organically or focus on acquisition strategies? How would you enhance your current processes?

Build your workstreams: From here, it’s important to build out your specific workstreams. For example, firms at this stage focus on project planning, business planning, marketing and compliance. Identify key milestones for each workstream; for compliance, an important milestone will be confirmation of your CCO and submissions to your provincial regulator. Each workstream requires a focus that ultimately serves to drive clarity in each area of your business. The answers you started with in defining your vision serve as goalposts for building out each aspect of your business. You will determine your high-level operating model, cadence of meetings and success metrics. It will be important in this phase to articulate your brand vision.

Phase 2: 3-6 Months

Determine Costs and Key Partnerships: At this point, you should have a clearer idea of key costs. Starting a business is an investment, no matter the industry, and firms typically invest $250,000 to $500,000 to start their business. Like most entrepreneurs, determining how to fund the business is critical. Having a reasonable plan and budget in place is important so you know what to expect and are prepped for contingencies. As you continue to develop your plan, you will have more clarity around costs. Of course, it is your decision as to how heavily you want to invest in each area of your business. Now is the time to finalize what you need to outsource and who you want to align your business with. Generally, in this phase, you identify your key partners to guide you and deliver areas of the value proposition where you may not want to focus. Finding the right partner that allows you to focus on your core business tasks and client relationships is essential to maximizing value creation and speed to launch.

Develop and Expand on Each Workstream: If Phase 1 focuses on putting pen to paper and turning ideas into plans, Phase 2 focuses on expanding, developing, and executing each workstream. For instance, by months 3-6, we see firms refining their marketing strategies and working with vendors and website and content creators. You will start to create your facilities and operations plan and continue to develop your compliant entity.

Phase 3: 6-9 Months

Finalize and Execute: After 6-9 months of hard work, you start to see the payoff. Your compliance requirements, such as the IPS and policies and procedures manual, will be finalized to ensure that you are set up for success. You need to develop your key messaging and communications for clients – not why you are leaving, but the vision of where you are going and why clients want to go with you. You will be surprised how excited most clients are for the vision you create. For the firms we partner with at Advisor Solutions, we train you and your team on our technology so the whole team is fully functional from day 1. You also want to focus on your employees’ transition and the key information they need to make a move. Your website will be in the final stages, and you’ll be ready to inform your clients properly.  

Launch: This is the most exciting time for many advisors. Your value proposition is clear, and you are ready to open your doors. This is where the 9-12 months of hard work pays off. Your focus is a smooth transition for your clients. With strong business processes, focused employees, and infrastructure in place, you can focus on your relationships and ensuring clients receive the desired experience. There is a direct correlation between a comprehensive and extensive pre-launch plan involving capable partners and a smoother transition period for your clients. The hard work doesn’t end at launch, but this is a very rewarding moment.


The Bottom Line

Starting a business is a serious commitment of both your time and financial resources that requires careful consideration and strategic planning. Still, you can unlock the opportunity for boundless potential by meticulously laying the groundwork, navigating potential pitfalls, and leveraging your resources effectively.

—Natasha Read, VP of Business Development

Success stories


Adopting Purpose's tech platform was like jumping 20 years into the future. This partnership has been a game-changer for us especially since we started from scratch. We're now able to accelerate our growth at a much faster pace than we ever could have on our own.



President & CEO @ Origin Wealth