When running a business as a financial advisor, the primary area of focus is often growing your client base, scaling your team to fulfill and match client needs, and stewarding existing relationships – all things that are centered around today and the immediate future. But how often do you think further down the road to account for the next phase of their business when you are no longer involved?
The answer: not often enough.
Towards the end of your career, you’ve likely already considered retirement and what that transition might look like for yourself. However, have you considered what that kind of transition might look like for your business? Or even more importantly, have you thought about what would happen to your business if you were unexpectedly unable to conduct business due to injury or death?
The main point of a succession plan is to account for an unplanned event that renders the advisor incapable of conducting business, but it is also a key tool for retirement planning. Ideally, an advisor will never need their succession plan to be enacted due to urgency but instead due to their pre-planned retirement or decreased role in the business.
Keep in mind that this is different than a Business Continuity Plan (BCP). A BCP prepares for an emergency or event that does not affect the well-being or physical/mental ability of an advisor to conduct business. It allows for you to continue business as usual in the event of a disruptive event, such as a natural disaster or a cyberattack. A succession plan accounts for your clients/accounts either in the event of their incapacitation or their retirement. The point of succession planning is to avoid a situation where a plan is needed, but no plan exists.
So, what are the options? The first question to ask is, what assets, accounts, and clients in my business am I accounting for? Depending on your affiliation with an RIA and/or broker-dealer, they have the option to create separate succession plans for their advisory and brokerage businesses. You could also potentially create one plan for the entire book of business as a whole – it’s up to the personal preference of the advisor.
The way in which you decide to craft your plan is also based on their preference of who you will designate as your assignee, or the advisor that will take over the business. Therefore, the next question is, who do I trust to take over my business? This could be a trusted advisor that is already part of your firm and runs their own book of business, a junior advisor that is coached to take over the book, a trusted advisor colleague in the industry, or even a licensed professional at your RIA or broker-dealer that can pass on the accounts to an advisor that would best fit the clients.
Another consideration in support of succession planning is the wellbeing of beneficiaries. If a succession plan must be implemented, creating an intentional plan will guarantee that your beneficiaries will continue to be supported by the business for an extended period of time.
The age-old adage “better to have and not need, than need and not have” says it best. One of the most business-forward and strategic decisions you can make is setting up a succession plan for the unknown, the emergency, or even just the forethought of retirement. Creating a succession plan provides the ability to rest easy knowing clients and loved ones are taken care of if and when you are no longer part of the business. As an IAA-affiliated advisor, the freedom to decide how to run your business doesn’t stop at present-day. Get started by reaching out to CEO & Founder, Robert Russo, at email@example.com.