TRANSITION TALK

Benefits of Synthetic Equity for Next-Generation Professionals

Posted by Stuart Smith, JD on Sep 30, 2020 4:56:11 PM

Benefits of Synthetic Equity for Next-Generation Advisors

The term “synthetic equity” refers to a set of compensation tools that is commonly used to provide key employees some of the economic benefits of ownership without actual stock changing hands. While existing owners may benefit from synthetic equity by capitalizing on employee performance without relinquishing ownership, there are key benefits to next-generation advisors, too.

Reduced Financial Risk

One of the most beneficial aspects of synthetic equity for a next-generation advisor is that it does not require a financial investment in the firm. As a younger professional, you may already be juggling the financial obligations of a new family, a recent home purchase, or student loans, and you may not be interested in taking on the added burden of ownership buy-in–yet.

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Topics: Compensation, Succession Planning, Next Generation, Sustainability, Building Your Team

Remodeling Cash Flow [Article]

Posted by FP Transitions on Sep 10, 2020 10:23:33 AM

There are two ways to make money from a financial services business: wages and profit distributions. But, there are four ways to build wealth from the same model: 

  1. Wages (including bonuses)
  2. Profit distributions
  3. Equity income selling equity
  4. Equity value, or stock appreciation

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Topics: Compensation, Succession Planning, Enterprise Strength, Cash Flow, Sustainability

The Four Greatest Opportunities for Financial Advisors

Posted by FP Transitions on Jul 16, 2020 7:27:21 AM

Four Opportunities for Financial Advisors

Today’s Independent financial advisors face an endless array of challenges and opportunities. Identifying challenges before they arise is key for finding solutions and developing strategies for tackling the issues that present the greatest opportunities for improvement and growth.

The four biggest opportunities are:

  • Balancing Growth and Profitability
  • Recruiting and Retaining Talent
  • Creating Business Sustainability
  • Growth Through Mergers and Acquisitions

Balancing Growth and Profitability

Growth and profitability are inextricably linked and balancing the two within a single practice is the difference between building a one-generational practice and a multi-generational, sustainable enterprise.

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Topics: Compensation, Succession Planning, Acquisition, Business Growth, Mergers, Talent Recruitment, Sustainability, Enterprise

Structuring Ownership Compensation

Posted by Stuart Smith, JD on Mar 11, 2020 8:52:42 AM

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Professionals working in the independent financial services industry tend to organize their business the same way as other professional service providers. Whether a dentist, lawyer, or wealth advisor, chances are that the firm owner is both a full-time employee and an active manager of the business as well as a shareholder. We are often asked in our consulting work about this dual role; shareholder and employee, and the interplay between them, particularly as it relates to compensation strategies. For example, should employees be rewarded with stock, or the opportunity to buy stock for achieving certain targets? Or, now that I am an owner, shouldn’t I get a raise?  

There are no simple answers to these questions, but context should help to understand the thought process required to make informed decisions when these issues inevitably arise.

Salary vs. Profit Share

At a first level, ownership and pay are distinct concepts with unique rules, purposes, benefits and risks. These concepts represent the division between the return an investor receives on the capital put at risk and the reward received by an employee for the work that is performed. This division should be simple, self-evident and unbending, but the reality in a small business is often far different. The smaller the company, the harder it is to maintain a distinction between ownership returns and compensation. In the most basic model, a one owner company, the black and white lines dividing a return on investment and wages for work often disappear completely.

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Topics: Compensation, Business Growth, Enterprise

Targeted Growth Solutions for Financial Advisors - FREE eBook Download

Posted by FP Transitions on Nov 13, 2019 1:17:01 PM

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:

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Topics: Compensation, Succession Planning, Acquisition, Business Growth, M&A, Next Generation, Talent Recruitment, Enterprise

NEW Webcast - Advanced Strategies for Growth & Profitability

Posted by FP Transitions on Jul 24, 2019 10:00:00 AM

The growth and profitability of your business are interconnected. Top-line revenue growth is essential, but it is no good without bottom-line profitability.

Balancing growth and profitability comes down to compensation structure and the equity pathways created for owners of the business. The profits generated through properly structured equity pathways are a catalyst for growth and the means to accomplish long-term strategic objectives including recruiting new talent, internal succession, and acquisition.

In our newest webcast, VP of Research and Analysis Eric Leeper, CFA®, discusses compensation solutions for businesses in varying stages of growth and how these strategies can boost both top-line growth and bottom-line profitability. 

View webcast clip below and click here to watch the full video.

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Topics: Compensation, Succession Planning, Equity Pathways, Enterprise

NEW Webcast - Issues Advisors Face

Posted by FP Transitions on Jun 17, 2019 9:12:00 AM

Independent financial advisors face an almost overwhelming set of challenges, but with challenges come opportunities. Many of these challenges fall into areas of:

  • Mergers & Acquisitions
  • Growth & Profitability
  • Talent Retention
  • Succession Planning

These opportunities and challenges are often interrelated. Tackling one challenge often helps solve another, thereby strengthening your business in other ways. A successful acquisition is supported by a strong enterprise that is capable of handling exponential growth, and building a strong enterprise requires the incorporation of next generation talent. Retaining and nurturing next generation talent is made possible with the proper compensation systems, and maintaining an effective compensation system demands business profitability. Bottom-line profitability increases when it is properly balanced with top-line growth. Finally, to bring it all together, growth is supported by building a strong, sustainable enterprise.

In this new webcast, President and Founder David Grau Sr., JD, discusses the top challenges and opportunities of the profession and how they can be addressed using an end-to-end, integrated strategy.

View webcast clip below and click here to watch the full video.

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Topics: Compensation, Succession Planning, M&A, Talent Recruitment, Equity Pathways, Enterprise

Creating Collaborators Instead of Competitors

Posted by FP Transitions on Mar 18, 2019 4:38:46 PM

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A large percentage of advisory businesses use some form of revenue-sharing arrangements, or an eat-what-you-kill system that rewards sales and production tied to the top line, not the bottom line. This is true of small practices as well as larger businesses. “Fracture lines” are built into the practice model as individual books or practices are built in an environment that starts out collaboratively but most often ends up creating competitors. 

It’s important that independent advisors move away from obsolete practices and improper building tools held over from experiences in the wirehouse world. Creating a sustainable and valuable business should be the goal of every advisor. Building efficiently and effectively takes the proper tools, the proper structure, and the proper team.

Advisors need to embrace the most powerful and lucrative tool they have: equity. Equity is the value of the business separate and apart from the cash flow and compensation paid for work performed.

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Topics: Compensation, Succession Planning, Revenue Sharing, Building Your Team

The Three Pillars of a Successful Advisory Business

Posted by David Grau Sr., JD on May 24, 2018 2:26:19 PM

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In my work, I’ve become a “professional traveler,” so I spend a lot of time in airports, and I get to talk to many of the pilots. Airline pilots are adventurous souls who enjoy finding ways to go faster, fly higher, and see things from a level that others cannot. They are also very methodical and go about everything with a checklist mentality, a clear purpose, and as much knowledge on the subject matter as they can muster. I find a lot of our entrepreneurial advisors to be cut from the same cloth. The goal of building something bigger, stronger, and better, helping clients with a different view of the financial world, and then sharing what they’ve built with others is woven into the very fabric of their being. Entrepreneurs like to grow, and they like to do things right.

Growth, of course, can mean many things. You might want to grow your top line revenue and assets under management. Maybe you’re looking to hire and build your team in order to improve client experiences. Perhaps you want to acquire a practice–or two–to quickly grow revenue, assets, the client base, and your own income. But, just like a pilot who wants to go faster and fly higher, eventually you’re going to need a larger plane, a stronger engine and airframe, even additional skills that maybe you don’t have–or don’t necessarily have a passion for developing.

Over time, we’ve seen that independent advisors don’t naturally build large, profitable, sustainable businesses. The ambition is there, and recurring, fee-based revenue certainly helps, but the skill-sets that prompt most of you to hang out your own shingle and start gathering clients who entrust you with their financial goals and assets are different than what it takes to run an organization of professionals and create scale. For these reasons and others, this is still more an industry of book builders than it is of business builders.

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Topics: Compensation, Succession Planning, Organizational Structure, Business Growth, Entity Structure, Sustainability, Building Your Team

Fleischer v. Commissioner: Has Your World Changed?

Posted by Rod Boutin, JD on Feb 17, 2017 3:14:43 PM

Probably not. 

When one person’s misstep in using a common industry practice gets reported in the press or a blog, a reader may worry if he or she has also strayed. Some have this response to the recent Tax Court case Fleischer v. Commissioner. The many differing opinions and commentaries on that case have advisors asking how this ruling affects their existing entity structures and tax reporting.

Many of the articles on Fleischer either oversimplify the court’s ruling, misinterpret the court’s decision to suggest an advisor with a business entity (either a corporation or a limited liability company) must abandon the entity, or miss the point entirely. The danger in those messages is their failure to understand the details of the Fleischer case, and not emphasizing that in the proper execution of an integrated plan – one that accommodates corporate law, tax law, and FINRA regulations – there would have been a different outcome.

From the Fleischer case, understand this: You won’t have a problem if you do things right. But setting up an entity in a highly regulated industry and operating it correctly is intricate. You cannot do it on LegalZoom or with an attorney or accountant unfamiliar with FINRA regulations. The Fleischer decision does not change the fact that entities are worthwhile for a wide variety of reasons.

The Fleischer Case

In the Fleischer case, the court focused on who controls the earning of the income, citing the two-part test recognized in the 1982 case of Johnson v. Commissioner. In that case, Charles Johnson played for the NBA’s San Francisco (now Golden State) Warriors in the 1970’s. He formed a Panamanian corporation to receive his income from the team. Citing additional precedent, the Johnson court held that the corporation did not meaningfully control Mr. Johnson’s services as a basketball player, nor did the Warriors have notice that its player was contractually affiliated with the entity. For those reasons, passing the player’s salary through the foreign corporation did not shelter Mr. Johnson from employment tax. The Johnson court stated two tests, both of which must be met:

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Topics: Compensation, Entity Structure, Tax Regulations

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