In our newest Roundtable Talk, Elite Client Consultant Kem Taylor and President David Grau Sr., JD, discuss the importance of time when it comes to planning, executing, and evolving your succession plan. During the conversation they cover examples of how FP Transitions has helped business owners navigate any changes to their plan including accelerating the timeline, adjusting the next-generation ownership team, and falling back to “Plan B”–selling the business.
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.
The transfer of ownership to a team of next generation talent allows a business to leverage the individual strengths and fresh energy of a younger generation. As a new advisor, ownership provides stability, equity stake, and voice in the future of the business. As a founder, incorporating this team elevates your business, secures longevity, and sparks a new level of growth. The arrangement creates a win-win opportunity for both the founder and the next generation owners.
In our new Roundtable Talk, Elite Client Consultant, Kem Taylor, and our President and Founder, David Grau Sr., JD, discuss the process of going from next generation advisor to next generation owner and the common questions that come with it. They explore the benefits for both founder and next generation owners as well as the importance of communication between the generations for a successful integration.Click here to watch the full, unscripted discussion.
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.
In our new Roundtable Talk, Founder and President, David Grau Sr., JD, and Elite Client Consultant, Kem Taylor, CBEC®, explore internal succession and describe how both the succession process and business growth can benefit from multigenerational experiences and knowledge from all owners.
- Acknowledging the "time" factor – having enough time to plan for, implement, and make adjustments to a gradual, internal transition of ownership
- Helping next generation advisors understand the benefits and responsibilities of ownership
- Recognizing that each succession path is different
- Exploring "where you are" and "where you're going" before jumping into the process
You’ve built a business providing financial insight to a growing community of clients. You’ve fostered this relationship over the years and established a trusted role in their lives. As your clients have moved along their journey as professionals, entrepreneurs, investors, or heirs, they’ve turned to you for advice at each step; and now they are counting on your business to be there and to see the process through to the end. This means that as your clients transition into their own retirement, they will depend on your services more, not less. Regardless of the plan you choose, it is your duty as an independent financial professional to have a plan for client service and support that extends beyond your own career.
One way or another, your path as a financial planner will come to an end. The question is whether or not you’re going to exit on your own terms and in your own way. Are you going to create a plan for your exit that preserves the value and growth of the business you’ve spent your career building? Are you going to make sure your clients’ assets are in good hands for the length of their lifetimes, not just for the length of your career?
The average advisor faces a difficult and increasingly competitive industry. With industry consolidation, technological advances, increased competition, more regulatory oversight, and the need to recruit and retain talent, it has never been more critical that financial advisors use benchmarking as part of their ongoing strategic planning process. With benchmarking, a business owner can improve their relative revenue and expense performance, organizational structure, and marketing results to support growth and achieve short-term and long-term goals. Used in conjunction with your business planning process, benchmarking is a powerful tool to track and build additional enterprise value.
What is Benchmarking and Why it is Critical?
Benchmarking is defined as a measurement of the quality of an organization's policies, products, programs, and strategies as compared against standard measurements of their peers and “best-in-class” providers. An effective benchmarking program provides insight into the connection between your business decisions and the resulting outcomes.
Benchmarking improves performance by identifying and applying demonstrated best practices to sales, operations, and procedures. Comparing the relative performance of their products, services, and sales both externally (against competitors) and internally (with ongoing operations and business decisions) ensures that performance meets or exceeds the competition. The objective of benchmarking is to find examples of superior performance and understand the business practices driving it. Effective business owners utilize benchmarking insights to improve their own performance by incorporating these best practices, not through imitation, but through innovation.
The Four “M's” for Incorporating Benchmarking into Business Planning
Every firm has unique needs for benchmarking. For example, the goals of a mature firm versus that of a start-up practice may differ greatly. More established business and solo advisors might be more likely to utilize benchmarks to implement changes that result in increased efficiency and profitability. By contrast, a young developing practice may be more focused on driving and managing growth in clients and revenue.
The foundations for FP Transitions were laid in 1999, and that makes our company officially 20 years old this year. I founded this company thinking that I knew a lot more about running a business than I actually did at the time. Armed with a law school diploma and a lot of energy and drive, I thought I was ready to conquer at least a small corner of the business world. Turns out that running a business takes experience and business knowledge.
Along the way, I picked up an important axiom from a local legend who said, “Don’t confuse activity with achievement.” He was right, but it took me a long time to understand the difference. In retrospect, the first ten years of our company were characterized with a lot of activity; the last ten years is where the achievement took place. The difference maker for us was hiring an outside CEO, Brad Bueermann, to come in and help us turn our activities into achievement on a national scale. Until then, I confused being very busy with being very successful, or at least constantly being on the verge of success. Everything revolved around me and the lawyer in me silently rejoiced. But this wasn’t a good, long-term model because eventually I ran out of time and energy. And I got older!
Advisors often mistake activity for achievement too, thinking that their one-owner practice that is 90% or more fee-based and that grows steadily at 10% or more every year is proof that they have built a business and that success has been achieved. I see a lot of independent advisors building what I call “books” and “practices,” but not very many building sustainable businesses. What I’ve learned over the past twenty years is that, while it is incredibly satisfying to have a practice that revolves around the founder, that isn’t a durable model, and it is not “a business.” At some point, if a practice is to outlive its founder and provide services to the clients for their lifetimes, and not just for the length of the founder’s career, significant changes need to be implemented, and the sooner the better.
Early on, we grew fast and I became totally focused on our top-line success and growth rate. But there came a time when it was clear that without strengthening the foundational aspects of our business, it would never grow past a certain point. I had to move myself out of the center of operations and learn to build and run a business like a shareholder, not like the star attraction. Making myself a part of a stronger, more diverse, and younger team of professionals was hard, but very necessary – more than just changing my leadership style, we had to change the culture of our operation and, frankly, that was beyond my skill set. So, we brought in outside help – people who knew things that I didn’t – and that made all the difference.
In the work that we do, our clients want to build something bigger and stronger, for one reason or another. The goal may be to grow and then sell it to a third party or a consolidator for maximum value. Sometimes the goal is to create a sustainable enterprise capable of supporting a gradual transfer of ownership, leadership, and responsibility to an internal successor.
Many advisors arrive on our doorstep using terms like “silo” and “ensemble” to describe to us what they believe they have built. However, these terms merely describe the organizational structure, which is just one facet of the strength of an independent advisory enterprise. They are not sufficient for diagnosing ALL structural elements needed to support a sustainable, profitable, valuable enterprise in this highly-regulated and sometimes complex industry. When we start a growth path with limited terminology, we inevitably have to ask a lot more questions of our clients to figure out exactly what they mean, what they really want to accomplish, and how to help them get there.