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Dan Goldie

Industry Spotlight > RIAs

Why a Tennis Pro Turned Solo Advisor Joined a Team

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For 27 years, Dan Goldie was a solo independent advisor managing nearly $1 billion, helped only by an Excel spreadsheet and a calculator. He had no employees, no financial planning or trading software, and he used passive vehicles exclusively, mostly from a single mutual fund family.

That all changed when in 2019, Goldie sold his practice to Buckingham Strategic Wealth.

“The biggest surprise is the emotional feeling of loss … when I no longer had my own firm and firm name. It took me three years to get comfortable,” Goldie, 60, tells ThinkAdvisor.

On his own, he concentrated mainly on investment management. Now, he focuses largely on financial planning, which is essential to servicing clients “the Buckingham way,” as he puts it in the recent interview. 

Goldie’s assets under management are about $900 million, and his book is packed with high-net-worth individual clients with an average $3 million to $5 million in investable assets, all of whom came with him when he moved to Buckingham.

And that move from independent advisor to employee wasn’t the first major change on Goldie’s career path. 

In his 20s, he was a professional tennis player who won two singles and two doubles titles and reached the Wimbledon quarterfinals in 1989, defeating Jimmy Connors along the way.

Shin fractures forced his retirement at age 27, and that’s when he launched Dan Goldie Financial Services, an affiliate of Loring Ward, in Palo Alto, California.

In the phone interview from Silicon Valley, the chartered financial analyst notes that ever since college he had been “fascinated by how … people make investment decisions.” Goldie also discusses his succession plan for a retirement in five years.

Here are highlights of our conversation:

THINKADVISOR: You had a highly successful solo advisory practice, but in 2019, you sold it to Buckingham Strategic Wealth. Why did you want to merge your firm?

DAN GOLDIE: I thought the timing was good. The markets had been going up for quite a while, and valuations were good. 

Also, my support team from Loring Ward was about to be acquired by Buckingham. So I saw the opportunity to piggyback with that transaction and join Buckingham too.

Plus, I thought the industry had reached a point where consolidation was underway and would be continuing for many years. I wanted to be earlier than later in that life cycle. I was 55.

Compare being a solo advisor with being part of a big RIA, as you are now.

The biggest surprise was the emotional feeling of loss that I had when I no longer had my own firm and firm name. I had built up the business for a long time. So I had a feeling of pride, of ownership. I was proud of what I’d done.

It took me three years to get comfortable: I’m an employee now, no longer an owner. It was an emotional, psychological adjustment.

Do you feel a sense of relief now without the responsibility and worries of running your own firm?

There’s an additional sense of financial security being part of a larger organization as opposed to being out there by myself.

All of your clients came with you to Buckingham. How did they react to your change from independent advisor to employee?

The biggest concern was that they just wanted to be sure I wasn’t retiring.

When I told them I wasn’t, they were completely fine.

What has benefited your clients most as a result of the merger?

It’s better to be a client of a larger organization. They’re being served better. There are so many more resources at my disposal and a broader set of services available with Buckingham. 

Clients have an improved, broader suite of offerings to benefit from.

If I need assistance with something, I have people I can go to for help very easily.

Your first career was playing professional tennis. Why did you switch to financial advisory when you retired from tennis at age 27?

Ever since I studied economics in college, I’ve been fascinated by how markets work and how people make investment decisions. 

In college, I had a short internship at a local financial planning firm.

I thought working with individual clients was really valuable because I grew up in a family that didn’t have [much] money and really struggled.

That experience led me to feel that making smart financial decisions is one of the most important things in life.

As an advisor, I can’t help people that are in the [bad financial] situation I was in when I was [a child]. But there are individuals with money that need some discipline and helpotherwise they might end up going in the other direction.

Why did you leave tennis?

I had a written plan to be in tennis from the time I was 12.

But when I was 27, I had a career-ending injury — stress fractures of my shin that wouldn’t heal. And I was tired of all the traveling for tennis, anyway. So I was OK with stopping.

You became a sole financial advisor with no employees, not even an assistant. Do you have one now?

I work on a team. I have to follow “the Buckingham way,” as they call it, servicing clients in a certain way.

What are you concentrating on investment-wise?

There’s a heavier focus on planning with Buckingham. I had been primarily focusing on investment solutions and investment management.

Now my focus is centered around all clients having a long-term financial plan and how the investments and other solutions branch off that plan.

Are you doing more retirement planning now?

I’m doing more overall financial planning, and because of the age of my client base, that tends to be mostly pre-retirement planning or retirement income planning.

You were investing in passive vehicles only as an independent. What about now?

Things have broadened. Buckingham has a fixed income trading team. It’s a laddered strategy, but not an actively managed strategy.

I was using fixed income mutual funds before, and now I have access to a team that can purchase individual bonds specifically to meet a client’s [needs].

I can customize bond offerings — depending on the client’s state of residence and tax bracket and I’ve eliminated the mutual fund management team. 

Any other investing strategy changes?

Buckingham has convinced me that using alternative strategies is a sensible approach for certain clients for diversification benefit.

There are four alternative strategies that I’ll occasionally put clients into if I feel it’s appropriate.

Has there been any change in the way you acquire new clients?

I haven’t noticed a big, meaningful change. People just ask me who Buckingham is, or how I came to work for Buckingham; whereas before, it was my own firm with my name on it.

Do you prospect for new clients or do they come to you through referrals?

Referrals. That’s always been the case. I had a few marketing activities when I first got into the business and co-authored two books on investments. But I’ve never really been a big marketing person.

I’ve mostly tried to focus on servicing and getting referrals from existing clients.

What’s your career goal at this point?

I’m planning on retiring in five years. We’re working on a succession plan right now. The clients will be successfully transitioned to a new advisory team so that I can step away without any problem.

The other advisor on my team is Susan Hanlon, who has been with Buckingham for [several] years. She’s planning to continue, so she’ll be one of the successor advisors.

And we’ll have at least a couple more over the next five years that we’ll need to develop or hire.

Do you ever play tennis nowadays?

Sometimes. Off and on when I get motivated. I go in spurts.

What about pickleball? Do you play?

I don’t. It’s loud. And I don’t like it.                  


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