While continuity plans are required by the U.S. Security and Exchange Commission (SEC), many advisors stop at the bare minimum, leaving their firm open to major disruption, and potentially an eroded value that leaves family or colleagues holding the bag.
Designing a sustainable firm is something that requires intentionality. For most advisors, this is always the goal, but having time to monitor your progress and course-correct is simply overwhelming. It gets shelved in the back of our brains, and its not until something unexpected crops up when we realize its time to revisit our goals.
Recently, a client told us that since she had implemented a formal continuity plan, her clients have felt more comfortable adding assets to their portfolios now that their tenure with her business is protected. This stability of continuity is an important cornerstone for continued business growth and client retention.
Currently, FINRA requires that member firms have a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) that is written and can be made available upon request. But it isn't just compliance; having a clear and written continuity plan reassures your clients' concerns about the security of their investments at your practice.
FP Transitions has been helping financial advisors document, implement, and annually update their formal continuity plans for well over a decade. Now through our EMS Grow program, we are able to leverage our extensive network of advisors to help connect you to the right continuity partner for your unique business.
Single owner practices without written, actionable continuity plans and identified continuity partners, are at a disadvantage to larger businesses and firms with built-in succession plans.
As the owner and person that has built a trusting relationship with your clients, you know that it is crucial to protect their wealth as well as your business as a whole. The most challenging aspect of developing a continuity plan, however, is finding the right partner. Of course you want to be discerning when it comes to the person who is going to care for the business you’ve built when you no longer can. Fit is always the foremost consideration.
Searching for the right continuity partner within your immediate community and professional networks can force you into a partnership that isn’t the best match for your clients, or worse, can result in no partnership at all! Now FP Transitions is offering the ability to leverage the most extensive network of advisors in the industry, to help connect you to the right continuity partner for your unique situation.
The Continuity Partner Matching service, available to EMS Grow members, allows you to tap into our team of professional coaches and our network of over 30,000 advisors. We’ll guide you through the selection of interested continuity partner candidates based on specific time-tested criteria as well as your specific requirements.
Once you have identified the right person, business or firm, we’ll help you get the proper documentation and agreements in place to ensure the continuity of service for your clients in the event of death or disability, and help you to protect the value of the business you’ve built.
Please let us know if we can assist you in this vital step of growth in your business, and reassurance to your clients. If you are already an EMS Member, reach out to your representative to see how we can help. And if yo are not an EMS Member, you can find out more about the program HERE.
Topics: Continuity Planning, Webcasts, Multi-Generational Ownership, Organizational Structure, Business Growth, Tip of the Week, Business Value, Client Success, Sustainability, Client Relationships, Business Operations
The single, biggest threat to an independent advisory practice is not the lack of a succession or exit plan, it is the lack of a plan to protect client interests and business value in the event of an owner’s sudden death or disability. And still, relatively few practice owners have implemented a reliable continuity plan.
As you put together your own unique plan, here are six best practices to consider as you create an effective and practical continuity plan:
Put your plan in writing. Create a concise, clearly-written continuity plan so that it works under adverse circumstances, without your ongoing involvement.
Use an industry-specific valuation for market value in a transition to a third-party buyer or external continuity partner, or an equity-based valuation for equity ownership interests as is common with internal continuity partners. For situations like death or disability, it is important to quickly, and accurately determine value. Be sure the determined value comes from a credible, third-party opinion with the database and accreditation to support the result.
Update your buy-sell agreement and valuation on an annual basis. As your business grows, you’ll want to capture current value and deal terms that support an agreed upon purchase amount. A routine review of the agreement can help practice owners ensure that their document addresses changes in circumstances and provides for evolution of the plan.
Topics: Continuity Planning
Completing a formal valuation is step one. Step two is securing that value with a continuity plan.
Having a formal, written continuity plan in place for the unexpected exit of an owner–especially if they’re the only owner–is paramount to ensure your practice and its clients are protected.
Annually updating the plan is just as important as the signatures on the document itself. Your plan and contingencies must evolve along with your business. An up-to-date and accurate agreement will prevent confusion in an already emotional and chaotic situation should the plan need to be implemented. Each year you must account for any business growth (or decline) as well as changes in compensation, personnel, client base, and other practice details.
The infographic below breaks down some continuity basics and options.
Ensure your business is safeguarded against the unexpected. Explore FP Transitions' Continuity Planning services or call 800.934.3303 to update (or establish) your continuity plan.
In past years, the slow and steady migration of independent financial service providers to the independent Registered Investment Advisory (RIA) channel has been well documented. As the number of state and SEC registered advisors continues to swell, the regulatory framework under which they have operated will undoubtedly become increasingly complicated.
For years, it has been the practice of regulators to primarily focus their attention on the largest players in our industry. Broker Dealers, Custodians, and product producers have, by and large, borne the responsibility of complying with our industry rules, if not in actual operation, then through procedural and compliance oversight of the independent producer. Call it the cost of success, but the regulatory bulls-eye is–without question–moving more and more toward the independent financial service provider. A perfect example of this is the SEC proposed Rule 206(4)-4 and amendments to Rule 204-2 for “Business Continuity and Transition Plans.”
After finding that many RIA firms were not well prepared in the aftermath of Hurricanes Katrina and Sandy, the SEC released alerts that practice owners should more closely review their disaster preparedness and continuity plans. Many of the new requirements under the proposed rules were to address shortfalls that were identified by these events in actual practice. Unfortunately, that guidance appears to be ignored by many whether through frustration, inability, or otherwise. Add to this, as FP Transitions has often pointed out, the substantial lack of Continuity Planning (death or disability planning) in our aging industry, and you have a perfect storm for regulatory intervention.
The Proposed SEC Rule 206(4)-4 and the amendments to Rule 204-2 are stepping in to address these apparent short falls in preparedness. Although many of these new regulations are considered within requirements that have long been in place for Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery under SEC Rule 38-1a and FINRA rule 4370, there are significant new requirements that are part of the language in the proposed rules and rule changes. Some of the highlights include:
The single, biggest threat to a financial services business with one owner, or only one primary advisory, is not the lack of a succession plan. It is, in fact, the lack of a plan to protect the clients and the practice's value in the event of an owner's sudden death or disability.
Our FREE white paper, published earlier this year, compiles almost two decades of knowledge when it comes to continuity planning for financial professionals.
Topics: Continuity Planning
There is a lot to consider when crafting an effective continuity plan: partner, terms, triggering events, and clients expectations to name a few. This infographic below breaks down the most important elements of continuity planning to help tackling the process a little simpler.
If 95% of financial advisory practices have only one owner then most are–or should be–looking outside their own advisory for a continuity partner. You should be that partner, especially if your long-term growth strategies include acquisition.