How This Accounting Firm Grew 100% YoY with Financial Planning Services

Podcast

Summary

  • Starting the Firm
  • Adding Advisory Services
  • How the Firm Works Now
    • Finding a Co-Founder
    • Running a Remote Firm
    • Transitioning to a Growth Mindset
    • Pricing

Shane’s Resources

Shane Mason and Brooklyn FI

Shane Mason, CPA and CFP, is the co-founder of Brooklyn FI Tax and Brooklyn FI, a financial planning division of the firm. What was a stand-alone tax firm, Brooklyn FI is now the only financial planning firm that specializes in tech professionals and their spouses. They offer robust financial plans for a flat monthly fee as well as investment management.

The firm currently has 11 employees but is growing quickly as they were at just four employees a year ago. On average, Brooklyn FI adds one new client every other day. Their services typically go for about $7,000/year, with the majority of their revenue coming from investment fees. Shane says the firm is on pace for $2.2 million in revenue for 2021.

In today’s episode of the Growing Your Firm Podcast, Shane will give us a look into launching services, working with a co-founder, remote work, service pricing, and shifting to a growth mindset.

Starting the Firm

Since 2014, Shane has helped Brooklyn FI grow 100% YoY. He started out moonlighting by doing taxes, then in 2015 he started offering financial planning. By 2017, Shane was able to quit his day job and focus on his firm full time. It wasn’t until 2018 that he hired another employee.

When he was running a one-man show, Shane focused primarily on taxes and was servicing nearly 150 clients. Because of his location and close friends, he was able to connect with plenty of freelancers, a tax topic he specialized in. He would meet with clients at a friend’s bar from 5 pm to 11 pm and offer them a free drink while he did their taxes. He was charging roughly $400 per client and could finish in about 45 minutes.

His unique setup prompted plenty of press coverage including local blogs, a feature in the Wall Street Journal, and even TV show appearances. Shane says nearly 8 years later, he still has clients from the result of that coverage.

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Adding Advisory Services

As Brooklyn FI began to grow, Shane knew his one-and-done tax service was not substantial enough to create the revenue stream throughout the year. So he set out to get his CFP license and add financial planning to his service list. When he made this addition, he began to pick up a lot of clients with stock options, now they are his primary clients and his financial planning services make up for roughly 70-80% of the firm’s revenue.

His advisory services include everything from tax projections to detailed explanations of incentive tax options (what will happen and how to do it) to investment and retirement strategies. His primary focus within his advisory services? Their clients’ concentrated positions within their companies. Because his clients are mostly millennials working for major tech companies, this is where the bulk of his revenue comes from.

As a side note: Shane highly recommends getting a CFP license if you intend to do financial planning, from there you can pick a niche.

How the Firm Works Now

Brooklyn FI has shifted a lot over the years, but Shane is confident in where it’s heading.

Finding a Co-founder

Shane’s first big step towards growth was hiring a co-founder. While he was appearing on a podcast, he challenged the host on her knowledge of financial advisory and told her she should set out to get her CFP. She enrolled right away by committing to the two-year process at NYU.

This is when Shane realized she was serious about her career shift and spent time working with her part-time before fully committing to her as a full-time employee and eventually a co-founder. He made a deal with her that if she could pass the test for the CFP, she could be a 50/50 partner. She did, started in 2018, and has played a huge role within the firm ever since.

Running a Remote Firm

At the start of COVID, with only 6 employees and a rent of $6,000 a month, Brooklyn FI became a fully remote firm. He now has employees all over the country and hasn’t even met half of his 11-man team in person.

Shane says the toughest part of being remote is creating and bringing their culture to their employees. He uses tech-based programs to help stay connected, including a Zoom happy hour each week. To add some fun, Shane assigns each of his employees a Pokemon card when they start. He says it adds to the culture and gives people something to be interested in.

Transitioning to a Growth Mindset

With the help of his business coach, Angie Herbers, he has started working on ways to grow the business. His main focus is to figure out how Brooklyn FI can succeed without his help.

This goal leads to a lot of delegating tasks, which is hard for Shane. He says it’s tough picking tasks he wants to give up because he likes doing some things that other people could be doing, and he doesn’t want to dump the things he doesn’t like to do onto someone else. However, he’s realized delegating is an essential part of growing his firm and has gotten better at it.

Pricing

Currently, Shanes’s pricing runs on a complexity-based model. Clients can go to their website and input details like marital status, how much equity they have, international issues, etc. to learn a ballpark price. Then a member of Brooklyn FI will meet with them to nail down the details. Each tax category has a set fee that is determined on a value-based system. The lowest yearly service is roughly $5,000/year, while the highest tops out at about $11,000/year.

Shane’s ultimate goal for Brooklyn FI is to remove himself from the business and have each employee only doing the one task they are really good at instead of multiple tasks they are okay at.

You can learn more about Shane, how Brooklyn FI started and where it is headed in our full podcast above!

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