by Joel P. Bruckenstein and David J. Drucker
Reviewed by Gary W. Silverman CFP®
As you read this review, you'll see that I have some issues with this book. Yet I can favorably recommend it to anyone looking at getting into the profession or veterans who are stepping out on their own. When you write a book that tries to cover every tool and technique a planner needs to think about, it is either going to contain subject overviews that are just too brief or be several thousand pages in length. Either causes problems.
If you are not familiar with them, Bruckenstein and Drucker have not exactly been quiet about how they view the integration of technology and practice management techniques in this profession. Those who have read their columns and heard their presentations will not gain much new information. Yes, they see a lot of us in home offices. Yes, they think outsourcing is a need for professional survival. And yes, they are still big into working with images rather than paper. Oh, and they think that the Garrett Planning Network is worth mentioning over and over.
That may be my pet peeve with the book: it acts like it is giving a broad look at the profession, when really it emphasizes the authors' current speaking points. For instance, in the section about location, 1-1/2 pages are used to explain a home office setup while only two paragraphs each cover renting office space or using an executive suite setup. Any of us who have used those kinds of settings can tell you there is a lot more than two paragraphs to think about. Nevertheless, given the popularity of them as authors and speaker, perhaps their current speaking points are the salient points needing to be covered.
Don't let my negatives sway you away from this book. There are 39 chapters that cover a very wide variety of information. If it does nothing else, it would help advisors who are looking at branching out on their own to consider many business decisions that they might otherwise overlook.
Important is that the book is not just about technique as it truly tries to examine what it is to be in this profession. For instance, the book starts out with a chapter on "Balancing Personal and Work Lives." While I am not sure that planners starting out in the business can begin their careers in blissful life-fulfilling balance (60- to 80-hour weeks are more likely), I do appreciate the book starting with this discussion. For without the forethought of what being a planner entails, many dreams can turn out to be nightmares.
Of great importance, and something that Bruckenstein and Drucker are commonly associated with, is the book's coverage of technological issues. While necessarily limited in depth, most other advisor business books ignore things like e-mail, Web sites, information security, and general office hardware and software issues. Not these guys. Each subject and more get its own chapter. In fact, the subject of going paperless gets three chapters. What they can't get away from is that while the generalities will be with us for years, many specifics they mention will become obsolete quickly. That's just the way technology is. Fortunately you can read their (and many others') updated tech thoughts in many periodicals.
Gary Silverman, CFP®, owns a fee-only financial planning firm in Wichita Falls, Texas. He is the host of the financial television show, Money$Talk; editor of the financial newsletter, Personal Money Planning; and a frequent contributor to the print and broadcast media. Gary also teaches university courses in finance and management.
National Underwriter, 2004