TRANSITION TALK

Mirror, Mirror

Posted by Laurie Nichols, RLP, CPC & ELI—MP on Dec 7, 2016 9:00:30 AM

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This is the third piece in our series with guest writer Laurie Nichols (read the first here and the second here) that chronicles her personal journey of selling her her business four years ago.


After spending nearly 30 years in financial services, including more than a decade wearing the Chief Compliance Officer hat, I don’t often make definitive claims or promises.

However, as I reflect on what has brought me to where I am now—living and working with renewed energy and excited about the future—there is something I know for sure: A successful transition from business owner to an inspiring next chapter starts with looking in the mirror and challenging yourself. 

How I Know

As I started to experience some “mid-life wake up calls,” both personally and professionally, I resisted looking at the truth of where I was in a holistic way.

I was a worrier. A deeply committed worrier who thought the key to financial security and success was to just keep pushing the same old boulder up hill and hoping it wouldn’t roll down.

It took the experience of a personal loss to give me the push I needed to start questioning who and how I was.  I was no longer willing to settle for allowing the years to just slip away then suddenly wake up with another decade gone.

I got busy—not just thinking—but exploring what I wanted in my career, and really, in my life.

The A-Ha

Realizing that my money worries were like a mountainous roadblock, I found my way to a life planning program: Kinder Institute for Life Planning. And I took a deep dive in.

They helped me to understand for the first time the kind of blinders I was wearing when it came to my personal financial picture and that of my business.

For the first time in my adult life and career, I was asking myself, “What do I REALLY want? What REALLY matters most to me now?” This was some of the hardest work I’ve ever done, and I’m forever grateful to my Kinder Institute mentor for the guidance and support.

This is where the lightbulb came on. I didn’t want to be a shareholder in the business, and I really needed some time to recharge my batteries. This deeper self-knowledge meant I could be more intentional about how to approach both opportunities for monetizing our business and exploring my next career chapter.

What About You?

“Life Planning” is thinking in a purposeful way about how you want to work and live your life–the only one you get. I talked previously about the importance of committing time and energy to strategic planning. Life planning is really just bringing yourself into that process.

In the words of George Kinder, “life planning is about the ‘human dimension of money.’”

Many wealth management professionals I’ve spoken with—from independents to wire house advisors, and from money managers to private bankers—express worries about their own financial futures.

These worries are often so limiting that they hold people back from looking in the mirror and considering the questions essential to creating a successful life plan.

What do you REALLY want? What REALLY matters to you?

Understanding the answers to these questions is key to connecting to your most deeply held and heart-felt values for what you want at this time in your life.

Too often, as investment professionals, we’re hung up on investment results and financial targets. By taking on your own life planning, you encounter an opportunity to think more holistically about what you want for you, your family and your clients. 

This complete consideration of your goals is not only a Win-Win-Win, but a starting point for creating your own living legacy.

When you have clarity on your own next chapter goals and vision for your business, you can design your transition strategy as a key component of your own financial life plan.

Where are YOU in Your Plan?

It’s not as easy as it sounds—it takes time to take a real look at ourselves peel the layers and get to the heart of what we’ve kept buried.

Imagine the possibilities if you choose action over the comfort of unnecessary worry; if you intentionally align your financial planning skills with your own desires.

Take advantage of this fresh opportunity to perform a “life audit” and understand your personal “why”: why you get up in the morning; versus your business “why”: why you do the work you do.  This is the first critical step in creating a vision for a successful transition and your legacy. 

A Life Audit:

Consider the following questions honestly and get your own Life Audit rolling:

  • What are your dreams, goals and aspirations for your second half?
  • Do you have a strategic plan for the transition of your business?
  • If you had 48 hours to live, what would your legacy be? Is there anything you might regret?

Squaring up to the mirror and facing these truths is daunting for just about everyone, don’t let that anxiety be a further roadblock. Don’t be afraid to reach out for guidance and support.

If you focus on what you want in your life now–and post transition–you can begin to experience more of what is truly meaningful to you now. By waiting for “someday” or an arbitrary financial target you are unnecessarily delaying your own peace of mind and ideal life.


LAURIE NICHOLS spent 30 years in the financial services industry, 20 as an owner. She took her exit four years ago and has thrived in her latest chapter as Owner, Life Planner and Coach of Next Chapter Vision which specializes in helping RIA owners and successors identify their exit planning goals and get into action. This is the third guest post in our series written by Laurie for FP Transitions to chronicle her own exit planning journey, the challenges she overcame, and the lessons she learned read the first here and the second here.

Topics: Selling Your Practice, Guest, Exit Planning

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