Epic Trust brings financial services together under one roof
Three local finance professionals started a new business after merging their separate financial planning, investment management, insurance, tax accounting and bookkeeping companies.
âWe are the only firm in town that brings together all of our disciplines under one roof. To our knowledge, no competitor can do everything we do, all with one phone call and one address, âsaid Jeffrey P. Lewis, owner and founder of one of the merging companies, Epic Trust Investment Advisors. of Kennewick.
Lewis, Nathan Burt of Burt Tax & Accounting in Kennewick and Tyson Reil of Real Insurance Solutions in Kennewick merged on July 1 to form Epic Trust Financial Group.
The new company has moved into HomeStreet Bank’s former commercial banking office at 1305 Fowler St., Suite 1D, Richland. Minimal leasehold improvements were necessary to prepare the space.
Epic Trust subsequently acquired four other companies: Advisor Benefits Group of Kennewick; ALP Financial Planning from Richland, Precision Accounting Solutions from Kennewick and Balanced Accounting & Bookkeeping from Kennewick, bringing their full teams and increasing their total number of jobs to 23.
âYou see some financial planning and insurance services bundled together, but again, this is the same guy who takes care of your business insurance, your home and auto insurance, and some of your investments. So my argument is if you do all of this then what are you good for? Said Reil.
âThat’s why we want real professionals to be spread across different departments, but working together. “
Gain customer trust
Instead of hiring an accountant for tax returns, payroll, and accounting, another professional for financial advice, and an agent (or sometimes multiple agents) to oversee insurance plans, Epic Trust offers one-stop shopping. .
Burt gave an example of how this can work: He recently asked an accountant client, whose commercial insurance was managed by another office, if he wanted Epic’s insurance team to review their books to try and find a better deal.
âTyson went through their books with me and we had access to all of their details. more detailed information than anyone else, âBurt said.
For less than the cost of a mid-level employee, businesses can hire professionals from Epic Trust to handle all of their financial needs, Lewis said.
âThey get a CPA, a certified insurance agent, a certified financial planner. They get a paraplanner, an accountant and an accountantâ¦ realistically, for a lot less money than they can afford to hire all of these disciplines in-house, âhe said.
Lewis said that one of the main reasons the Epic Trust model makes sense and why it has gained so much traction is customer confidence.
âWhen it’s not just a financial advisor, insurance agent or tax expert that they are going to meet with and hope they will do a good job for them, we now have several disciplines that all need to be suitable or that are planning to talk about what is going on with our customers so that we can serve them. And that takes the level of trust of where it is on an individual basis and puts us in a category that most other companies may not be able to achieve, âLewis said.
Overcome the obstacles
This begs the question: if this model translates into such significant added value for clients and potential increase in business, why haven’t other finance professionals joined forces to deliver similar experiences?
âThere’s always a risk involved in partnering with someone,â Burt said.
Although the three have known each other for years, they admitted that there were still obstacles to overcome.
âThe most important thing was probably to let go of that control of being in charge,â Reil said.
âWe were all president of our own business before that and deciding to give up some level of control and profitability or the way decisions are made is a really tough decision for a lot of people to make,â agreed. Lewis.
He explained that a lot of people in finance just want to specialize as a CPA or just manage investments or just sell insurance.
âI think a lot of people who are in our professions, they have a harder time seeing how these synergies that work together really come into play,â Lewis said.
Burt explained how offering multiple services from an office involved sorting out a lot of logistics, including “age, having the right bedside manner, having similar ambitions, a ready-to-follow clientele, and similar values.” So it took about 10 matching factors to make it work, and so I think that’s why no one else is doing it.
The official merger came after nine months of strategic planning.
The Epic Trust team recommends anyone interested in partnering or merging with another company to work on “The Partnership Charter: How to Get Started with Your New Business Partnership (or Fix the One You’re in)” from David Gage.
The book offers tips, quizzes and scenarios that potential partners tackle together to ensure that they align at critical points and that all logistical and legal issues are addressed and agreed upon, even those over which it is needed. is difficult to talk about, such as the compensation of different partners. .
Lewis said understanding how the financial equation will work is one of the most important aspects. âOne of the biggest reasons most businesses fail in the early years is because they don’t have enough money.
âIt’s about following that process and exploring, ‘What if … then what? “, Said Reil.
He added: âLegally, it’s difficult. We have spent a lot of money on lawyers to develop our business plan and have had many conversations with our governing bodies to make sure we are in compliance. . “
Once the merger was official, the Epic Trust team said the next challenge was to blend the corporate culture, an ongoing process.
âThat was one of my upcoming negotiating items, is that this has to be a good place to work,â Reil said.