With over 35 years of financial and business consulting experience, Patrick Carroll, Founder and CEO of Obsidian Planning Solutions, felt the various pain points business owners experience every day and was committed to finding a comprehensive solution. He is dedicated to helping owners protect and grow their businesses in an approachable way. It was what lead him to create The Lifestyle Protector Program™, a simple, step-by-step approach to continuity, succession, and transition planning that could be easily incorporated into the hectic schedule of business owners.
Tell us how you got started in this industry and why you enjoy working with business owners.
Many years ago, I worked in the benefits marketplace, and I finally got the opportunity to work directly with business owners. I started doing some financial work with them and really enjoyed it. It was refreshing to find a group of people who welcomed working with outside advisors and valued their advice. In the past, we had a lot of individual clients that we were doing planning work for who would often not take our advice. Business owners usually appreciate the advice and typically understand that they need additional support. It was refreshing to move into a marketplace where the hard work I put in was appreciated.
We eventually sold our benefits business and kept our financial planning business. We had some individual clients and some business clients, and we inevitably decided to invest more time in our business clients. We quickly realized the need for succession and exit Planning for these clients. That is when we found BEI and started working in that realm.
We were used to working with attorneys and CPAs to do the estate planning for the business owner, and it just was a natural progression to go from financial estate planning to comprehensive succession planning. We actually built some rudimentary succession plans for owners as much as 20 - 25 years ago as we were putting together estate plans for clients.
I very much enjoy working with business owners because they think outside the box a little bit more than the average person. It's fun to get to know them, their businesses, and their teams. Earlier this week, we had a client who we were building an internal succession plan for. We ended up introducing them to somebody that we knew would be interested in acquiring them. I am not entirely sure what will come out of it, but I enjoy facilitating those kinds of connections.
Tell us about an unexpected challenge you have encountered working with business owners. How did it impact you/your practice and how did you overcome the problem? What did you learn from this challenge as an advisor that you were able to use with future clients?
Every day I run into unexpected challenges. That is what makes my job exciting and rewarding. We just met with an owner to help him set up a restricted stock plan. We were looking at restructuring their multiple entities to a holding company to make the restricted stock plan work more effectively. We even finished the restricted stock plan with the attorney and the owner comes back and says, "You know what? I just got told by the state that I cannot make these changes because I'm going to lose my license." Now we must start over.
We had to go back and rethink the way the plan needed to be structured. It was such a minor oversight that no one thought would be an issue. We were just going to make the holding company the owner of all the sub-companies. But when the state threatened to revoke their license, it was back to the drawing board. So that is just one example of a unique challenge that I had to think through this week. There are many different cases that I’ve run into where you put something together, and then something weird comes out of left field.
There is always something that comes up, which makes it interesting because it's never a one-size-fits-all solution in this business.
How has your involvement with BEI impacted your practice?
I would have to say the most valuable tool that we get from BEI is the ability to call and speak to the BEI Team about a case and run through that case with them. They are always so happy to help me out when I have a challenge. The BEI staff has always been so helpful and informative over the years.
Do you have any new awards, accreditations, speaking opportunities, partnerships, or other accomplishments?
In the last year, we’ve worked with three different organizations to navigate the ever-changing environment we all faced with COVID. One was a non-profit that specifically helps minority-owned businesses, and two national organizations; one is for businesses who employee union workers, and the second was for a national network of retail stores. We were able to support these organization with online educational workshops and Q&A sessions centered around strategic planning and the government relief programs. The workshops have been very popular and effective, and I’m very excited to see how they progress from here.
What advice would you give to a new advisor?
Being the coach for your team of advisors is critical. I know BEI preaches this too. It's important to be the coordinator, and it's important to work closely with the accounting and the legal side and help the client themselves. For example, when we need to have a restricted stock plan put into place, we first need to talk to the client. Then we get on a phone call with their attorney or with the attorney that we recommend for the project. When the attorney finishes the documents, we coordinate with the attorney and the client, and we help put everything into place.
If you want to do just your part of the project and not collaborate with the other members of the team, your plan is going to crumble. You have to be the team coordinator and the coach. You’ve got to have all the different players on the team, and without the coach, it's a mess. The coach has to be hands-on with all the other people involved. You've got to be working with all the other advisors constructively.