"Success means achieving your life goals and not somebody else's goals for you. I have learned that the hard way."

— Marjorie L. Fox

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Marjorie L. Fox

Co-founder and principal, FJY Financial

Marjorie Fox, co-founder and principal of FJY Financial, has found much to be proud of over her 30 years in the industry. Some highlights:

Making a break "despite being the reluctant entrepreneur and rainmaker, leaping off into the unknown" to leave an unhappy situation and start a practice 10 years ago.

Putting staff and clients ahead of her own interests. "You don't get through bear markets and a startup practice with clients and staff if you don't love what you do," she said.

An amicable partner departure in 2014. "We all vowed to make it work. We didn't have a tug of war with clients. We presented our cases to them and they saw us walk the talk."

A staff career path, consisting of four tiers: associate financial adviser, who provides support services; financial adviser, who may co-lead relationships and meetings; senior/lead financial adviser, who provides mentoring and oversight; and owner/principal, where an adviser is invited to buy into the firm. Ms. Fox shared several tips for success that she's gleaned over the years:

Don't be afraid to work with consultants; don't reinvent the wheel.

Grow your client base to create opportunities for your up-and-coming advisers.

Be team-centric, not founder-centric. "We have stepped back, and stepped off teams."

Be willing to reinvest profits to make the firm better, for example, by investing in consultants, compensation, and technology.

Looking ahead, she plans to continue sharing best practices with the broader community, continue to "beat the drum" for diverse firms (multigenerational, multi-ethnic, female team members), and increase access to pro bono advice and financial education.

Deborah Nason

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