According to Ernest Clark, three things have contributed to his professional success: hard work, critical thinking, and three major career risks. While Ernest may have landed in wealth advising by accident, his work ethic, intentionality, and bold decisions have hardly wavered.

Ernest began his career as an accountant in Alabama’s oldest CPA firm. At just 29, Ernest made the risky decision to start a new office 100 miles from the firm’s central hub and essentially became the firm’s rainmaker. Forced to grow his practice, Ernest learned how to close business. The move also inched him toward portfolio management.

By 1998, his firm began the process of launching a portfolio services business. In need of a successor, Ernest studied and passed three exams in less than a year to become a registered investment advisor and take the reins.

“In 15 years, I think the biggest change that we’ll see from where we’re at today, is that the wealth advisor will be a family’s lead advisor that helps the family capture as much value from the attorney as possible and as much value from the CPA as possible, but they will be the lead.” ~ Ernest Clark

In 2007, Ernest took his third major risk: retiring from a successful firm and making a major career change. Today, Ernest serves as Advanced Planning Advisor at Buckingham, providing complex client solutions and acting as an invaluable resource for advisors everywhere.

In this episode, Ernest talks with Steve about his career evolution, expanding into portfolio services, the importance of finding your voice, and what advisors so often miss when it comes to legacy planning.


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Steve Atkinson

Steven Atkinson

Managing Director, Advisor Relations

For 25 years Steve has helped advisors get into the RIA space and/or helped them grow by developing and sharing a variety of client experience best practices. Steve was an original architect of Buckingham’s Design | Build | Protect® client experience process along with the Life Discovery and Feedforward programs. Steve is also an author of The Wealth Solution and 27 Principles Every Investor Should Know. He is also the host of the Admired Advisor podcast. Steve is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha with a Bachelor’s in Finance and Investment Banking. Steve lives in Edwards, CO and enjoys spending time with his daughters skiing in the winter or golfing in the summer .