Creating Collaborators Instead of Competitors

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


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


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

Ship vs. Life Raft - What Are YOU Building?

Posted by FP Transitions on Dec 6, 2016 9:17:33 AM

Ship vs. Liferaft - What Are You Building - Enity Structure

Picture a bright orange life raft floating on a dark blue, storm-tossed ocean. In this durable, well-built, small craft sits an independent financial advisor. Our advisor has a paddle for propulsion – the means by which to move the raft to safer or more prosperous waters. Our advisor has the means to collect and store rain water for drinking, and fishing tackle to bring in food for survival – the craft literally is floating on a sea of food and fuel to sustain and propel its lone occupant. Our advisor also has a compass for navigation to guide forward progress along a chosen route. 

In terms of organizational structure, this sole proprietorship model is a common starting point for many advisors. With this model a single advisor is compensated on an “eat-what-you-kill,” basis–the clients are under his or her service; he or she receives 100% of the revenue to pay their own individual expenses, and takes 100% of the profits (if any) that remain.

To its credit, this basic production-based, or advisor-driven, model is extremely adaptable and simple to establish and operate. And while it may work for a single advisor office where there are only business expenses and compensation for one, it should not be mistaken for a building block for larger, more sustainable business models. Unfortunately, it often is.

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Topics: Compensation, Equity, Organizational Structure

[FP WEBCAST] Lifestyle Succession Plan

Posted by FP Transitions on Apr 16, 2015 9:55:00 AM

Where do you want to be in 5 years, 10 years, maybe 15? Many advisors begin the planning process too late. In our lastest FP Webcast, President and Founder, David Grau Sr., talks about how to execute a proper succession plan. From thinking realistically about your time to harnessing second-generation talent, David walks you through the benefits and logistics of starting early.

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Topics: Compensation, Succession Planning, Webcasts, Equity

[FP WEBCAST] Advanced Considerations in Succession & Equity

Posted by FP Transitions on Mar 26, 2015 9:59:00 AM

This webcast features Vice President Eric Leeper, CFA as he leads you on a deep dive into the succession planning process by exploring cash flow modeling and equity compensation as a way to stimulate exponential growth within your company.

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Topics: Compensation, Succession Planning, Webcasts, Equity

Employee Compensation Strategies

Posted by FP Transitions on Oct 16, 2014 10:00:00 AM

Building a business that will continue to grow – even as you begin to work less – requires an efficient infrastructure and the right people. Creating such an infrastructure takes time and constant adjustment.

If you offer competitive wages and benefits you’ll not only attract, but hold on to talented professionals. Additionally, you should consider the strategy being used increasingly by many of your peers: equity compensation. Equity is providing an almost unfair edge for retaining and attracting top talent in the financial services industry.

Equity rewards key staff members for their dedication by granting them a stake in the business’ success and growth as a part of their compensation package.

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Topics: Compensation, Succession Planning

Remodel Cash Flow to Build Businesses of Enduring Value

Posted by FP Transitions on Jun 19, 2014 4:34:00 PM

Professional goals should extend beyond just earning a living during an advisors peak working years, learn how to perpetuate your income into the future. 

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Topics: Compensation, Business Growth, FPT in the News, Cash Flow, Sustainability