In this episode, we're joined by Leonard Raskin, owner and CEO of Raskin Global. The financial markets are crowded with advice and different approaches, but Leonard's approach is radically different to help his clients navigate the fog of the financial marketplace.
Leonard owns Raskin Global, a Baltimore-based financial consulting firm. Leonard has been in business for 33 years. He founded the business to help people to the right thing with their money.
Why Start a Business?
Leonard started with a larger firm of about 40 advisors. They had a fee-based practice and charged fees for consulting. After a few years, he realized he was just an advisor within a larger firm. He found that he couldn't relate directly to business owners in a large company where he stepped into a previously existing role. Leonard realized it was necessary to brand his own identity and break off from the firm model to create his own advisory firm. He recognized that he probably couldn't provide maximum value to business owners because he didn't create and run his own business.
Leonard was able to leave the original firm while keeping his existing client base. From there, Leonard used a phone book and other directories to cold call businesses. He also used direct-mail campaigns and mass marketing campaigns.
What does Raskin Global Look Like Today?
At its peak in 2007/2008, there were 20 employees in a 20,000 square foot office building at Raskin Global. They also had satellite locations/affiliate offices used to see clients across the country. The firm had virtual capability from the start, conducting most business over online or phone meetings. In 2008/2009, with the economic crash and liquidity crunch, Leonard realized he needed to get lean and mean and stop making unnecessary expenses. Over time, Leonard cut staff from 20 back down to eight - three advisors and five staff. Today in 2020, staff is down to five total.
Leonard had to choose to cut a couple advisors who just weren't making it. A couple others left on their own accord after deciding they weren't good fits with the firm going forward. Leonard found that he had to issue new probationary periods, allowing some advisors an additional chance to become profitable to the firm. Even as a small business, Leonard and his team have been able to continue servicing all clients.
When looking at the numbers after the downturn, Leonard realized they could be more profitable with less people when the staff that are kept are all efficient and good at what they do.
"We got lean, we got got sharp, we got rid of all the extraneous stuff we didn't need anymore."
They became more profitable and had more free time. Leonard enjoyed having the larger firm, but he realized he just didn't need to want to manage a large number of people. There are many more moving parts with the larger firms - dealing with areas such as supplies purchases, HR, additional laws and rules, increased benefits, and employee handbooks take so much time from the entrepreneur to focus on the revenue generating or brand-building areas of the business.
"And yet we still have the ability relate to our business owner clients that are trying to go down that road and grow because we've seen both sides. We were in the growth mode and then we got to the lean and mean mode. And now, I try to encourage people to stay lean and mean as you grow. Growth for the sake of growth is like risk for the sake of risk. What's the point? There's a point where you're getting maximum efficiency out of the business- what do you want beyond that?"
The Why Factor
Leonard now encourages business owners to focus on the reason why they are growing the business. It was getting to the point where Leonard wasn't making much more money, he was just getting more stressed. At a certain point, the money is good, but it isn't worth it to continue to pour 80-hour weeks into the business for just marginal additional earnings.
At a certain point, once ends are being met and a comfortable living is achieved, many small business owners and entrepreneurs realize that happiness and living in the present moment has a massive importance. To recognize this early is actually very advantageous for entrepreneurs. When you set out to do business for the right reasons, you're often more efficient, make better decisions, and can grow your business in a healthy and sustainable manner. Leonard, speaking from experience, states that living life with greater intention and focusing on what makes you happy and brings balance to your life leads to many great opportunities.
Before the Coronavirus crisis, the economy was looking great with record employment numbers, strong corporate profits, and interest rates turning up. In a matter of days, the largest and hottest economy in history was shut down. The amount of clampdown has been stunning, quarantining for the greater good to save lives. This is the exact opposite to 2008, trillions of dollars of liquidity are being thrown at the problem instead of banks and governments shutting down.
Leonard thinks that many business will handle the crisis in a similar way, moving towards "lean and mean" by cutting many unnecessary expenses. Small businesses will also focus on their technology, making sure they can conduct business online, have a well-functioning website and digital presence, continue to communicate with clients.
"Is out website up to date, is our technology up to date? Are we in a position to communicate with our clients? Small business, clearly, has a big job to do here, they've got to make sure they keep their people and continue to serve their clients."
Leonard believes the service economy will continue to thrive, but other areas have some big decisions ahead, such as restaurants. Commercial real estate against the rise of remote work is also going to be very interesting to monitor, many firms may not look to renew leases after streamlining their operations to function virtually. Consumers and tenants will require lower density per square foot.
Learn more about Leonard and Raskin Global: https://www.raskinglobal.com/
This podcast is for informational purposes only. Staying Power Collective is not affiliated with or endorsed by PAS, Guardian, or Raskin Global and opinions stated are their own. Leonard Raskin is a Registered Representative and Financial Advisor of Park Avenue Securities LLC (PAS). OSJ: 7101 Wisconsin Ave Suite 1200, Bethesda, MD 20814, 301-907-9030. Securities products and advisory services offered through PAS, member FINRA, SIPC. Financial Representative of The Guardian Life Insurance Company of America® (Guardian), New York, NY. PAS is a wholly owned subsidiary of Guardian. Raskin Global is not an affiliate or subsidiary of PAS or Guardian. CA insurance license #0G63774 2020-103551 Exp 06/22