Who Am I and Why Am I Here?


Back in 1992, presidential hopeful Ross Perot named Vietnam war hero retired Admiral James Stockdale as his running mate. In the first vice-presidential debate, Stockdale opened his comments with a rhetorical question: “Who am I and why am I here?” This was greeted with hoots of derision from some quarters, the implication being that if he didn’t know the answers, why should we care?

At the risk of make the same mistake, I’ll ask the same question and hopefully give a better answer than Admiral Stockdale did.

My name is Sam Hull, CFP®, CPCC, and I am a recovering financial planner and former owner of Northstar Financial Planning, an RIA I started in 1995 and sold in early 2008. What I learned during the experience of selling my business has been the foundation of a new career as a business transition coach and consultant. I care passionately about helping my friends and former peers in the financial advisory business not make the same mistakes I did and take some “lessons learned” from mine and other people’s transition experiences.

That’s why I am doing this blog. I hope to open up a forum where we all can share stories and “lessons learned” about planning for and successfully executing the ownership transition of what, for many advisors, is their largest single financial asset.

So here’s a question for you. Do you ever feel like this? 

  • My business isn’t as rewarding to me these days as it used to be a few years ago. I’ve built a successful company and weathered good markets and bad, but somehow I don’t look forward to going to work like I used to in the old days.
  • The older I get, the more I want to do with my life! Helping my clients build fulfillment in their own lives is wonderful and I love it—but I sometimes worry I don’t leave enough time and energy to explore “what’s next” for me. I have dreams too!
  • I thought my internal succession plan was all set, but whenever my successor & I start talking about what I want in the terms of the deal or the money, the conversation turns frosty.

You do? Then you may be ready to leave a comment or question about how to get ready for your business ownership transition and learn (or share) what to do next. Let’s talk!

Sam HullSam Hull, CFP®, CPCC, ACC, RLP
Whitewater Transitions LLC
Arundel, Maine

3 thoughts on “Who Am I and Why Am I Here?

  1. Sam: Funny. Your comment about your internal succession planning growing frosty hit a nerve. As they buyer and not the seller, the same thing happened between my partner & I.

    I had worked for the company for 23 years, I was half owner for 16 years. As the time approached, for the ownership of the company to pass on to me.
    There was alot of tension!!!

    We did work through it, but it took over a year. It was tough on the business, and both our personal lives. As of June 1st of this year, I am the sole owner, and my partner was unwilling to continue on in the business at any capacity as employee or independent consultant.


  2. Gwyn:
    Isn’t it interesting how the introduction of “money” and/or “control” into the conversation can totally change the dynamics of the relationship? I’ve seen it happen too many times with internal succession plans and I appreciate your sharing your experience.

    What can be done?

    Well, perhaps it would help to introduce a third party as coach and facilitator at the time when the situation changes from “planning for someday” into being a real date on the calendar. Partners usually have their hands (and hearts) too close to the fire of business to be able to see things objectively and dispassionately. Thats why we have our clients work on a Shared Intentions Statement as the foundation for their transition planning. Being able to refer back to the “Golden Rules” of shared intentionality can dampen the dangerous passion of the moment and has saved many a friendship- and transition plan!


  3. A career in financial planning is still lucrative despite the worldwide financial crunch. As long as money is used in our economy financial planners will be needed. You have to pay your dues to become a financial planner but once you pass the test and prove your mettle, you can expect a handsome return for your efforts.

Leave a Reply