Topics: Continuity Planning, Webcasts, Multi-Generational Ownership, Organizational Structure, Business Growth, Tip of the Week, Business Value, Client Success, Sustainability, Client Relationships, Business Operations
2021 is just about behind us, and 2022 is knocking at the door. What are the 2022 trends in the financial planning advisory space that we consult? We had an opportunity to ask our experts what they see in their respective crystal balls...
Topics: Selling Your Practice, Acquisition, Multi-Generational Ownership, M&A, Business Value, Deal Structure, Financing, Bank Financing, Buying & Selling, State of the Market, Mergers, Tax Regulations, Building Your Team, Valuation & Appraisal, Transactions, Trends
The search for new talent can be time consuming and intimidating. As with any company, online job boards like Indeed and Monster are good starting points. There are other resources to supplement these tools, and as a financial advisory firm there are some unique tools you can leverage. Whether you’re looking to recruit experienced advisory professionals, or fresh, new talent, the following are 11 more resources for finding new talent.
When it comes to planning for the future, flexibility is important. Change is bound to happen–whether we see it coming or not. Planning for future growth and ownership of a business is no different. As a next-generation professional in this industry, being able to adjust your course while keeping your eye on the ball is imperative.
In the past, we’ve written about how founders and existing ownership teams can prepare for and adapt to changes that might come their way. While next-generation professionals may encounter similar roadblocks, you will face unique challenges of your own. In the current phase of your career–building experience, relationships, and leadership potential–the course correction discussion is less about planning for the future of a business as an owner, and more about carefully plotting the future of your career.
Equity-based compensation provides an excellent solution for practice owners who need a reward system that goes beyond the traditional salary/bonus structure and shares the economic value of equity, but not equity itself.
A critical element in the success of any small business is its ability to recruit, reward, and retain talented advisors and support staff. To this end, equity compensation is often used to achieve these goals. Synthetic equity is a tool set that can provide ownership-level benefits without buying or selling actual stock in an advisory business.
To be clear, the process of transforming a single-owner practice into a sustainable business generally relies on equity. Equity, or stock, is what next-generation advisors invest in, and over time and with hard work benefit from, above and beyond what compensation alone can provide. Equity is the shareholder value created in a business managed from a bottom-line up perspective with a focus on earnings or profits as the ultimate financial goal. Equity is a powerful building and motivational tool, but with the opportunities come obligations. Because of these obligations, buying or selling equity isn’t the only way to offer key employees ownership-like benefits, nor is it always the best option.
As industry leaders in designing and facilitating internal succession plans for financial advisory firms, the leadership team at FP Transitions has its own talented, multigenerational ownership team in place. Our next-generation leaders have unique strengths and perspectives that keep our business constantly innovating and growing.
“If you could give one piece of advice to prospective G2 candidates what would it be?”
“Build up your skillset.”
Being an owner is about more than just advising clients and producing revenue. You need to look at–and contribute to–the broader picture. Know where your knowledge gaps are and spend time understanding these areas to expand your contributions to the business. Owners may focus their expertise in one or two areas, but to be successful they need to have a solid understanding in every aspect of running a business.
Your principal advisor has invited you to become an owner. Congratulations! The majority of next-generation advisors are energized by the demand for and the opportunity of succession planning, but most founders are stalled leaving successors frustrated. Your challenge as a successor is helping to make the process work for everyone involved. One important way to do that is to recognize the principal owner’s impediments and to help him or her understand the process and how accessible it actually is.
The Primary Obstacle
Like you, most successors—hamstrung by student debt, mid-stride in buying homes, building families, and still growing in their careers and earnings potential—don’t have money to invest in a business. Eager founders (“G1s” or first-generation owners) may seek to remove these obstacles by gifting or granting ownership, but this can taint the relationship as G1 may ultimately feel short-changed by giving away part of the business they built with their own sweat and toil. Beginning a partnership where one side feels cheated isn’t an ideal way to launch a successful, satisfying transition. There has to be a better way. In fact, many founders and successors come together each year with plans that are truly win/win. So where does the money come from? In many cases, the answer is the business itself.
In our first book “Succession Planning for Financial Advisors,” founder David Grau Sr., JD recounted one advisor’s early succession journey, including his ownership team’s bumps and triumphs as they executed the first tranches of their plan. Today, David circles back to provide an update on the successor team and all they’ve accomplished in six short years:
Ten years ago, around 2009, the founder and sole owner of Diversified Financial Consultants in Wilmington, Delaware, hired a local business attorney to help him develop a succession plan for his financial planning practice organized as an S-corporation. Calling on a practice’s local business attorney is a common starting point, and interestingly, it seems to be a common failure point when attempting to mesh the goals of the founder and next-gen advisors.. In this case, the founder’s attorney strongly suggested that in order for the founder to maintain full and unfettered control, the best course of action was a phantom-stock plan.The first draft was professional and thorough. It was also rejected out of hand by the team of prospective owners – they wanted to be real owners and investors in the business they were helping to grow.
The sustainability of financial services businesses depends on the incorporation of new talent. The demand for next-generation talent continues to increase as longevity, continuity, and staying competitive become top priorities for many financial advisor-owners.
Next-generation advisors are in a unique position to leverage their generational experiences and opportunities that influence business value to carve out their ideal career path.
The demand for financial advice is growing faster than the number of financial planners available to provide it. Household assets are increasing and the number of households with over $200,000+ in income has increased 10% in the last two years and is expected to climb.1 Along with accumulating their own wealth, younger investors are set to receive inheritances from their parent’s generation. The need for asset management is further exacerbated by the fact that the average age of financial advisors trends older so many are set to slow down or retire over the next ten years.
The battle for talent is upon us and it is important to recognize that as a next-generation financial planner, you have more career choices than ever. You can start your own business, or seek employment at a broker-dealer, bank, wirehouse, or RIA. Even those choices have many options within themselves. For instance, in terms of joining an RIA, 15 years ago, small firms were often the only option. Today, you can work for a smaller regional enterprise, a national company with hundreds of advisors and staff, or an RIA somewhere in between.
As a next-generation advisor, pursuing ownership as part of your career path is an important decision. Business ownership requires a variety of skill sets and comes with both benefits and responsibilities that go beyond the role of advisor. Before you consider asking for ownership from the existing owners of your firm, you need to demonstrate that it is not only something you are capable of, but something you have earned.
Starting with these four steps as early as possible will help you build a strong case for ownership: