Apr 24, 2023

Mark Shone Partner Story – Video Transcript

Hi, I’m Mark Shone with Allworth Financial. I’m a Partner Advisor out of our Walnut Creek office. Formerly I was the owner of Shone Wealth Management in Walnut Creek, and I joined Allworth in May of 2021.

I was born and raised in Petaluma, California. Our family actually moved to California in 1848, two years before California was a state, right during the Gold Rush, and we apparently didn’t find gold. But was there throughout my youth, and then I went to college at Cal State, Sacramento, where I studied finance and economics.

I love sports and music, and I’m an active drummer in a band that was started when I was 13 years old. The band’s name is Stage Fright and we still play today. We played over 200 gigs throughout our lifetime, and I really enjoy that.

I have a personal mission statement that I live by and actually read every day, and it’s really to have a life of personal and financial freedom. And that mission feeds the different aspects of my life that are important to me. It’s social, it’s family, it’s work, and it’s charitable endeavors.

The things I enjoy most about the advisory space is part of it is the structure of it, which is I enjoy being entrepreneurial and growing a business, but growing a business for the benefit of the client, that you’re having an effect on outcomes of clients’ lives. This may sound a little corny, but it’s actually true. When people come in and hire us, as they walk out that door, it’s very, very satisfying because I know they’ve made a good decision because they’re going to be served well over their lives.

And finance is a very fickle type of an industry where there are a lot of different players, and you have to make sure that you’re aligned with people who have your best interest at heart. So, I always feel it’s very rewarding to have a client walk out the door, and I know they selected a firm that’s going to serve them well throughout their lives.

The motivation for seeking a partnership really came from the evolution of the business and the natural evolution of the business. So, we’d grown pretty rapidly and we just came to a point where we were going to have to do one of two things. We were going to have to go out and hire a bunch of additional people in order to keep up the level of client service and to continue to grow, or we were going to have to partner with someone who could take some of those things off the table for us.

I’ve always said we’d spent about 35% to 40% of our time working on the business and not in the business. So, we eliminated that 35% to 40%. Candidly, I took about 10% for myself, and I applied the other 25% to 30% to the client work, and that’s worked out spectacularly. We’ve grown much, much quicker since this transition, and we looked for a partner that could help us do that. And for us, it was somebody who could integrate what we were trying to do and not just aggregate and acquire assets.

So, some of the decision points that come to you when you’re looking to join another firm, or whether it’s merge or sell or exit, however you think about that, I think there are some things you have to sit with a little bit. One of them is you have your name on your firm. I loved being a business owner. I loved having an impact, controlling all of the decisions that are going to be made as a firm. So, those were things that I enjoyed. And I had to sit down and think through what are the things that are going to go away? And are those things really impactful, or how meaningful are they to you? I realized that those were symptoms, not actual things that were important. You can still have an impact as a partner of a firm, but at the end of the day, you have to look and see what’s life look like after, and try to envision that and then live that in the future.

When making a decision on who to partner with, I think it’s very similar to how a client chooses an advisor. It really starts with trust. Do you trust the people that you’re going into business with? For us, it was very important to be integrated into a firm and take advantage of all the things that have been built from an operational standpoint to free us up to work with clients. That’s the work that we’ve done best. It was being crowded out as we grew, and this allowed it to open back up and continue to grow like we wanted to grow. So, those are the two things that were really important, and that’s where we spent our time doing the due diligence.

I think it’s important to think in advance what this is going to mean to your staff and your employees. And I think your position changes from a boss to a leadership role. But those are just words because you should have been leading as a boss, to begin with. But if you think about becoming a leader and you have your staff’s best interest at heart and you’re putting them in a position with more opportunities, there are certainly more opportunities in a bigger firm than there is in a smaller firm.

And if you continue to do the work that they’ve always enjoyed because they enjoy taking care of clients as well, if you continue that environment and that culture, then that transition is going to be a lot smoother. So, it’s another part of when you’re looking to partner with somebody you have to pay attention to culture to make sure there’s that fit there as well.

The process and the transition was complicated, but I would describe it as being simplified because of the support. There’s a lot of things to get moved, there’s a lot of things to get transitioned, and it’s really important that the firm you’re considering joining has the resources and the understanding, the knowledge to make that transition about as seamless as possible.

In the transition, I think it weighs on certain people in your firm more than others. So, me as an advisor, it was probably easier than our staff, and particularly in the operations. So, I think there are some things you can do as a business owner to make sure that your staff is prepared and/or compensated in advance because there’s going to be some heavy lifting there.

I was actually shocked that there weren’t many surprises. And that wasn’t because I was clairvoyant about what was coming but it’s not the first rodeo for Allworth. They were very upfront about what to expect, and it really kind of transitioned and proceeded about that way. So, I think the surprises were lack of surprises, particularly from a client’s reception of moving, merging to a different firm, being part of a different firm.

I wish I’d done this three years before I did it because it would’ve freed me up earlier. I was facing some of the same challenges that I had but if you’re growing a firm and you’re seeing the future and where that’s going, you want to get ahead of it.

Life is better now because some of the stresses that I had that weren’t really serving clients and weren’t serving me personally have gone away, and now it goes to opportunity and obligations that do serve, yes, me personally, but also serve clients. So, it’s just that transition that has happened.

A silly kind of a story, but it’s really true, this is embarrassing, but I think I took 1 full week off in 16 years of having my own business. It’s really pathetic. And when I did that, that’s because the person I’ve worked with for 13 years says, “You need to do this, and if you check your phone, you know, there’s going to be hell to pay.”

Now since I’ve moved over and being a partner at Allworth, I can actually take some time for myself to do the things that are important to me, be social with friends and family, and enjoy that time without a distraction, and it’s just healthier. And I can do it because of the resources that are behind me. I’m now at a new firm and I know that clients are still being served while I’m not directly present. And that’s a big difference.

If you’re considering what the next steps in your firm’s evolution might be, I would say take your own advice. What do we do for clients? We always start with the end in mind. We’re planning. We’re planners. That’s what we do. So, the decisions we make today are going to set up your future. So, from a firm perspective, think about where you want to be 5 years from now, 10 years from now. What are the steps that you have to take to evolve to get there? So, it’s simply take your own advice and do the work, and do the planning work for yourself and your firm because that helps you serve not only yourself, but it helps you serve your employees, helps you serve your community, and it helps you serve your clients.