15-16 hours a day in a thankless corporate job would be enough to make anyone consider starting their own business, even if the money was good.
After 15 years of these long days, Benjamin Carmona realized that even with days like that, he wasn’t able to provide the level of service he wanted as it didn’t exist in his industry. He knew the investment, syndication, and exchange space better than most, and it was time to strike out on his own.
With a growing family – a newly one year old and a 3 year old – he wanted more time to be present with what matters most – and the opportunity to take even better care of his clients.
It should have been the best of both worlds.
And so, at the very start of 2020, Benjamin gave notice, bit the bullet, and made it happen. He went out on his own, hanging his proverbial shingle, and launched his own firm, Perch Wealth, to sell the very securities he’d spent over a decade putting together.
“What better time to change gears!” he thought “This will be easy! I know everyone in the industry! This will be a cake walk!”
How 1 + 1 = 3
It was the opposite of easy. The first few months were brutal and just as much work – if not more – than his job he had left behind.
“I knew I couldn’t do this all on my own. My dad always said ‘If you find 2 great people, 1+1 = 3’ and I knew I had to find the right partner.”
Around 4 months in, Benjamin took a coffee meeting with an acquaintance from the industry, Ehud, and after their meeting called his wife, Lindsay, and excitedly told her he’d found “the one.”
There was never even a conversation about who does what.
There’s not even a formal division of labor, they just divide and conquer.
If they had to choose titles, Ehud is more CEO and Benjamin is more Chief Investment Officer.
From 0 to $100 Million in 12 Months
In their first year in business, they closed over $100mm in new business, just the two of them.
This momentum propelled them forward, but the workload was crushing. They were at capacity and couldn’t take on new clients.
To offer the level of service they were known for, they needed help.
They’re not your typical financial advisors, who would just manage stocks, bonds, and annuities.
With a specialty in private real estate, they help accredited and high networth investors (HNWI) with 1031 exchanges to defer taxes on their real estate transactions by rolling into Delaware Statutory Trusts (DST) to provide passive investments.
Clients come to them looking to sell a property and want a replacement option, they just sold a property, or are already in escrow. These are typically investors looking to move away from active management and into truly passive investments. They want Institutional quality investments like $25-150mm properties that are acquired and managed without their involvement. And with DSTs allowing for fractionalized ownership, they’re able to get involved with as little as $100k.
These kinds of clients expect – and deserve – a level of service that Benjamin Carmona was proud to provide.
“We always got back to every client, but If clients have to wait for responses to emails or to handle business, that’s a problem. We could have done more business if we had the time.”
They knew they needed to hire.
Bringing on qualified advisors takes a lot of work for onboarding, training, and managing. But done right, the sky would be the limit.
But is that the right goal? Perhaps not.
Attracting A Players
Without even looking for advisors, advisors were finding him. At first they hired 1, then 3, then 5, and at one point even got up to 14 advisors working for the company.
Business was picking up – and growing fast – and at long last they had the team to handle the client work.
Beyond the advisors, they also hired a COO, Lauren, to oversee day to day operations, and a Chief Sales Officer to oversee sales.
Not every hire was a great long term fit, though, and with 14 advisors on the team, the management team couldn’t provide the level of one-on-one mentorship they wanted.
So it was time to “right size” and keep just the best of the best.
For Benjamin Carmona and his team, 10 was the right number.
Advisors are mostly self sufficient. But with a smaller team, they could invest more time with existing advisors. They could focus on upgrading, elevating, and coaching existing advisors.
They’re very open to bringing on advisors but they’re much more selective now. That was a learning experience unto itself. Some advisors are more effective and passionate than others and now they only hire true “A Players.”
“We don’t want infantry. We want special forces.”
Freedom By Design
With the right size team in place – and the right people on the team – Benjamin and Ehud have far more freedom. Ehud just took a month off overseas, and Benjamin is able to do the same.
That’s only possible because their COO is overseeing the team, their Chief Sales Officer is keeping new clients coming in, and they invested heavily in building the right systems, CRM, and infrastructure.
With middle management between the two partners and the team, the business is able to run without their day to day involvement.
Benjamin and Ehud love what they do, and pride themselves on their exceptional client care. And it shows. Their customers are vocal about the level of service, too.
Clients like Maria share “A+ excellent service! Ben Carmona and his team are professional, personable, a pleasure to do business with.” Or Brad who shared “Unbelievable service from start to finish.”
Despite this freedom, Benjamin is still on the extreme side of hustle simply because his mentality has been that way for so long. He’s had to change away from hustle. “I have had to change and give up control with the faith that everything will be okay. You can’t be on point every minute of every day. You’ve got to step back and find balance.”
Beyond the Business
Like many other entrepreneurs, being present outside of work is still a challenge and can be difficult.
Benjamin has to constantly remind himself that at the end of each day, “I’m checking out now, I’m shutting off the phone, and I’m walking into the house so I can focus on my wife and kids.” But this doesn’t come easily – yet. It’s something he still has to consciously remind himself of daily.
Outside of the business, Benjamin and his family invest heavily. “We’re all about passive income. I was raised and trained to get passive income.”
This comes from a variety of investments, many of which are investments his clients are also in. He’s even owned a laundromat and rental properties for a period of time. But… “That was a time suck. Now I only invest in third party funds, energy, and real estate equity/debt.”
And the lessons he’s learned about hard work, investments, and service? He’s passing those onto his kids even now, instilling the value of the dollar, philanthropy, charity.
Lessons Learned from Benjamin Carmona
- To grow, you need a team, but focus on only hiring self-sufficient A players. “We don’t want infantry. We want special forces.”
- Beyond a team, you need systems, systems like Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs), a Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platform, defined sales pipelines, and Key Performance Indicators (KPI).
- Start a business sooner in life! Don’t let the fear of failure stand in your way. “I 100% wish I had gotten started 10 years sooner, but it was fear that kept me from getting started.”
- Everything happens for a reason and at the right time. “I blossomed when I was ready to blossom”
- Create passive income sources outside of your business. Fund them with your business. This can be laundromats or real estate or third party funds, but the more passive, the better.
- Involve your children from a young age in conversations and decisions about money, spending, saving, investing, and philanthropy.
*As always, we’re not attorneys or financial advisors and this is not legal or financial advice! Always consult your legal counsel and financial professionals about what’s right for you and your business.