Sales Success

Craig Ciarlelli case study

Craig Ciarlelli

Qualified Plan Advisor Partners with
Local CPAs to Tap Micro and Small Business Market

Financial Advisor Practice Snapshot

Craig Ciarlelli AIFA, ChFC, CLU
  • CC Coaching and Consulting, Inc.
  • 5595 South Sycamore Street
    Littleton, CO 80120
  • Craig Ciarlelli is a Registered Representative offering advisory services and securities through Cetera Advisor Networks LLC, member FINRA/SIPC. Investment advisory services also offered through Hinds Financial Group Inc. Cetera Advisor Networks LLC is not affiliated with any other named entity.
  • Started firm in 1978

Financial Advisor Bio

Craig decided some time ago to specialize in a market segment that others often overlook. His primary focus is on micro and small employers, providing Qualified and non-Qualified Solutions. Most of his plans have fewer than 25 participants and under $600k AUM.

Unlike many other advisors, he does not focus on individual wealth management services. His specialization on just the retirement plans has paid off for his firm, as they now have over 100 business plans to manage, and a total $125 MM AUM.

This places him in the top tier of Elite DC Specialist Advisors (estimated at less than 2,500 who have over 25 Qualified Plans). This single focus is also reflected in his organization. The roles and infrastructure are designed specifically to manage these retirement plan clients and their employees:

  • President
  • Director of Participant Communication and Education
  • Director of Client Services and Marketing
  • Director of Operations

Value Proposition

Craig says, "CC Coaching and Consulting can help you get the value you need for you and your employees".
CC Coaching and Consulting focuses on three key messages during the sales process:
1. Manage fiduciary exposure
2. Lower plan expenses
3. Develop a personalized employee investment education and communication program resulting in improved retirement outcomes

Marketing Approach


  1. Developing the professionalism to partner  with CPA’s and find the synergies.
  2. Taking the long view to develop the relationship.

Professional guidance is provided via a proprietary evaluation method he calls the “Corporate Retirement Plan SolutionTM ” designed to establish or improve a plan. This scalable, proven process helps CC Coaching deliver on their sales promise.

Recently, Craig decided to leverage his reputation as qualified plan expert for micro and small business in the local business community. He focused on the key partners of small local CPA firms (3-5 partners that provide tax services to sole practitioners and micro business) to discuss advantages of qualified plan designs to solve tax issues for certain types of clients for CPAs.

“A critical part of the education process was to be able provide analytical illustrations from Dedicated DB to show the specific tax and retirement benefits of using Qualified Plan designs under different cash flow scenario’s over 3-5 years,” said Craig.

In addition, he developed education programs for CPA staff. As a result of this relationship, they identified a specific market opportunity:
Small consultants that land a three to five year six figure contract, creating a major increase in their annual income and potential tax liabilities.
Craig said, “This is a tax-driven sale.” He has invested time in educating the CPA and building a role as a trusted advisor. This has really paid off for Craig, as the CPA identifies, qualifies and “sells” the Defined Benefit Plan to the client. A key factor is that CPA remains in control of his clients. Craig is positioned as expert consultant “behind the scenes”.

*For a comprehensive review of your personal situation, always consult with a tax or legal advisor. Neither Cetera Advisor Networks nor any of its representatives may give legal or tax advice.


For tools to help you market to CPAs click here.


Results To Date
New Dedicated DB Plans Sales:  $3.4MM AUM with 6 start-up plans since 2012

DB Only: Started in 2012 Consulting business 2 people,terminated at $375,000

DB Only: Started in 2013 Consulting business 3 people AUM $1,358,000 as of 12/31/17

DB+401(k): Started in 2013 Consulting business 1 person AUM $646,000 as of 12/31/17

DB+401(k): Started in 2014 Consulting business 1 person AUM $718.000 as of 12/31/17

DB+401(k): Started in 2015 Consulting business 2 people AUM  $154,000 (2016 funding)

DB Only: Started in 2015 Contracting business 1 person, AUM $142,000 as of 12/31/17

“DBs provide me another way to expand my business opportunities and demonstrate my knowledge of Qualified Plan Design in impactful ways to my clients and CPA partners. The market demand for these plans are driven by the baby boomers’ inability to start saving for the long term and now must maximize their retirement saving during peak earning years.”


For his clients: Who are Consultants
Maximizes retirement savings and minimizes tax impact for short-term multi-year contract by providing DB plan for about five years, with the ability to have flexible funding holidays.

For the CPA: Local 3-5 partner firms
Increase client loyalty
Referral business
Builds reputation for providing sound and innovative tax solutions

For the Financial Advisor:
All new business
Efficient and effective method to gather assets that are larger than typical micro 401(k) plans
CPA refers the potential DB client, and manages the sale, very efficient process as prospects are pre-qualified
Ancillary Qualified and Non-Qualified Plan flows as CPA firm provides other referrals

Why Dedicated DB?

Dedicated DB makes the whole complex Defined Benefit Plan design process simple and efficient to explain, to forecast client scenarios and implement easily

Dedicated DB’s on line calculator allows Advisors to forecast the impact of various Defined Benefit solutions compared to other types tax solutions quickly

Dedicated DB’s Prototype plan design is specifically for these types of clients and offers funding flexibility.

Dedicated DB provides an inside sales support desk and consulting to help Advisors win more Defined Benefit plans.

Call: 1-866-269-2706

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