by Richard J. Koreto
reviewed by Gary W. Silverman, CFP®
If you want to know how to be a successful financial planner, you might want to talk to the people who have achieved success. That's what Richard Koreto decided to do in his book, Run It Like a Business. Koreto, former senior editor of the Journal of Accountancy and executive editor of Financial Planning magazine, found that success depends more on an individual's business management skills than his or her technical ability.
The idea behind this book is the same truth we see every day in our practices—that most professionals are seriously lacking in business skills. Just because you can fix a crown, remove an appendix, or argue a case in court does not mean you know how to run a business. And just because you are making a lot of money does not mean you are running a business well. We planners are professionals; so do we have that same fundamental flaw?
There is no universal magic bullet. As the author states, "This book will not help you find the right way, but your right way. Not everything in the book will fit your practice or personality. Instead treat it like a conference (without the jet lag). Read, absorb, and pick out those ideas that will help you achieve the success that you want. Maybe you'll find your own, special, magic bullet.
The book includes thoughts from solo planners with no employees operating out of their house, those with small two- to three-person practices, and large firms with dozens and dozens of people scattered across the nation. You know many of the names: Edelman, Gluck, Katz, Bachrach, Slott, Stanasolovich; but the book also includes some folks I've never heard of. After all, a person with a blue-collar practice operating out of their home often doesn't make headlines; yet they can offer great insights.
Rather than giving each of the interviewed planners a chapter, Koreto divides the book into subject areas such as "A Place to Hang Your Hat" and "Doing Well by Doing Good." He then uses whichever interviewees had the most provocative or pertinent thoughts for that section.
To the book's credit and its detriment, it is very broad. Don't expect a detailed discussion about anything. Instead, expect to hear ideas that you will need to further research. And that was Koreto's intent. In fact he includes an appendix of resources to help you do just that.
While I'm not sure a planner with a decade or more of experience and who keeps up with the major industry publications will find much value in this book, those with less experience or who are looking at making a transition could do a lot worse than reading it.
Gary W. Silverman, CFP®, is the owner of a fee-only financial planning and investment advisory firm in Wichita Falls, Texas.
Dearborn Trade Publishing
$35 U.S., $52.95 Canada