David Grau Sr.
David Grau Sr.
Founder, FP Transitions
Self-described "reformed lawyer" David Grau Sr., 59, is president and founder of FP Transitions. Mr. Grau always wanted to be an entrepreneur and that opportunity came quickly — just two years out of law school — as he established his own law practice serving RIAs in 1994. Bigger things were to come, as he happened on the first wave of independent adviser retirees. "In the first year, one client said, 'I'm getting ready to retire — know anyone interested?'" Mr. Grau said.
The question led to the creation of FP Transitions in 2000, amid the realization that independent practices have an inherent financial value, he said. Armed with this concept, he invented systems and processes.
It was a challenge to change mainstream attitudes.
"We literally fought with the advisers, broker-dealers and industry pundits on the notion that a small relationship-based sole proprietor could have significant value," Mr. Grau said. Why? "Because advisers thought they were irreplaceable."
Today, his firm assists 2,000 clients per year with valuations, succession planning, exit planning, continuity planning and mergers.
Mr. Grau, a second-generation entrepreneur, grew up in a small town in northern Indiana. He laughingly describes himself as one of the rare English majors to come out of an engineering school (Purdue University).
A perfectionist and a workaholic, his idea of fun is writing white papers.
Does he have a work-life balance?
"No, I'm completely unbalanced. But I enjoy traveling, especially the time up above the clouds," Mr. Grau said. "It's quiet, and as a high-energy person, it's the only time in my life I get that luxury — to be strapped in with a headset."
– Deborah Nason