Building a sustainable business requires reaching across the generation gap and tapping into the energy and talent of younger professionals.
Today’s independent financial advisors face an endless array of opportunities (and challenges). The key is to identify impediments before they arise and to develop strategies for tackling the issues that present the greatest opportunities for improvement and growth.
There are four main challenges essential to the success of your business:
We all know what an entrepreneur is. Many independent financial advisors would likely identify themselves as an entrepreneur.
Many entrepreneurs worked 18-hour days to get their business off the ground and wore all the hats in the company–CEO, Marketing Director, H.R. Manager, IT Coordinator, Bookkeeper, and Visionary. They are their own boss. They create new things. They continuously solve problems. They have initiative. And, importantly, they can tolerate risk more than most people.
A lesser-known term is "intrapreneur."
When should you start developing your exit plan or succession plan?
The short answer is: start the planning process early. Successful internal succession planning can be a 10- to 15-year process so give yourself adequate time. For advisors who want to sell externally, the planning process should start three to five years before you think you’re ready to actually sell.
Projecting an Off Ramp
As you forecast your exit timeline it’s important to consider factors like cash flow and how much will be required to move into retirement and maintain your desired lifestyle. You should also consider how long it will take to put your successor team in place and when you’ll be able to hand over the reins completely.
One of the best ways to make a timeline projection is to determine how much time you want to—or will realistically be able to—spend productively working in the office, and create a “workweek trajectory.”
FP Transitions CEO, Brad Bueermann, weighs in on the "trend" of consolidation among wealth management firms in Friday's New York Times Article, "Wealth Advisory Firms Are Merging, but What's in it for Clients?" by Paul Sullivan. Experts share their thoughts on the trend and whether or not the trend is actually resulting in better service for advisory clients.
We have seen that the ability to leverage technology and better processes indeed produces stronger and more valuable businesses, but access to these tools is not necessarily a function of size. As Brad says in the article, “We firmly believe at the client level that doing business locally with people who understand the community where their clients are going to retire into and who have a close connection to the client are better...Independent practices have flourished for a reason: Consolidation is the world we came from 30 years ago.”
Read the full article, "Wealth Advisory Firms Are Merging, but What's in it for Clients?" here.
We write a fair number of white papers every year. As thought leaders, it is part of our job to share our thinking with independent financial professionals in order to advance the profession. In our consulting work, our clients often challenge us with thought provoking questions which open us to new ideas, help us to improve, and occasionally challenge basic assumptions behind the work that we perform. Sometimes questions are really out of left field and our curiosity leads us to an answer worth sharing.
Over the last ten years, increasing numbers of advisors have begun the process of creating sustainable businesses. Many advisors started out as a book or a practice—one-generational models. They took steps to create much more valuable, multi-generational businesses by focusing on enterprise strength and setting up or restructuring essential business structures.
The M&A marketplace is becoming increasingly competitive. Businesses need a strong value proposition to step away from the crowd. Owners who have taken steps to work on building their enterprises are in the best position to leverage their unique business aspects to access more growth opportunities and become successful acquirers or merger partners.
Advisors constantly seek an answer to the questions “How can I grow faster?” and “How can I increase the value of my practice?” Generally, their focus is on acquisition. However, growth and value are not singular concepts. In other words, achieving a rapid pace of growth needs to be tackled through multiple facets, and ultimately, growth will be a driver of value. However, many practices are not adequately equipped to grow at the rates they are striving for. Technology provides many of these opportunities. Investing in technology has a demonstrated relationship to higher growth, more affluent clients, increased profits, and increased value.
The rapid pace of technological advancement has provided financial advisors more opportunities to reach a broader client base and manage client relationships more effectively and efficiently. By implementing and effectively utilizing web-based advertising, digital conference rooms, client relationship management (CRM) systems, and billing and portfolio management software, advisory practices of all sizes are able to more closely track their performance and focus their efforts on the market segments they wish to target.
There has been a fair amount of talk over the past decades about consolidation in the financial services industry. Most of the white papers and articles addressing this concept have presented it in a negative light as though it signals the end of the lifestyle practices that dot the landscape in this profession. Industry regulation, growth, technology, fee compression, competition, and aging advisors forced smaller practices to consolidate just to survive. At least that was the working theory.
As the original organizers of the open marketplace for independent advisors seeking to sell or to acquire, we have a slightly different perspective on consolidation; we view it in a very positive light. Consolidation looks very different than what the prognosticators laid out decades ago. From our vantage point of working with businesses below $2 billion in AUM, we’ve observed the industry is indeed experiencing some consolidation, but not only due to acquisitions or roll-ups by companies like Focus Financial, United Capital, or Dynasty. The consolidation that we see every day is owners of stronger, sustainable enterprises acquiring smaller, one-generational books and practices.
Viewed in this light, how better to look after 250 clients or households when a single-owner advisory practice nears retirement than to find a very similarly structured business that can step in, take over, and provide for the staff members as well? This process works for the buyers, the sellers, and, most importantly, the clients.
Our new Trends in Transactions and Valuation Study includes expert insight, commentary, and predictions for the state of the financial services industry. The study dives into last year’s M&A numbers and examines how industry businesses and their values have evolved over the last five years.
This comprehensive, 50-page study features: