In this Roundtable Talk, the next-generation ownership of FP Transitions discuss their own experiences in taking the mantle to shape the team and future of the business. They explore hiring for cultural fit and potential value, the definition of “ownership mentality,” and how they might identify potential G3 leaders in the generation beyond their own.
In the October 2019 issue of the Journal of Financial Planning, FP Transitions' Christine Sjölin, VP of Strategic Development and Operations, contributed her article "Lay the Foundation for the Next Generation of Ownership." The article discusses the importance–and challenge–of seeking out and recruiting next-generation talent in the financial services industry. Christine explores implementing internship opportunities to recruiting new advisors, strategies for talent retention, and how to incorporate ownership opportunities into your compensation structure.
Read her full article, "Lay the Foundation for the Next Generation of Ownership," now at onefpa.org
We all know what an entrepreneur is. Many independent financial advisors would likely identify themselves as an entrepreneur.
Many entrepreneurs worked 18-hour days to get their business off the ground and wore all the hats in the company–CEO, Marketing Director, H.R. Manager, IT Coordinator, Bookkeeper, and Visionary. They are their own boss. They create new things. They continuously solve problems. They have initiative. And, importantly, they can tolerate risk more than most people.
A lesser-known term is "intrapreneur."
Ahead of FA's 2020 Invest in Women's Conference in April 2020, Michaela G. Herlihy shares important insight and actionable advice for making the transition from employee to owner. She covers identifying and Implementing proper policies and procedures, creating a business plan, leveraging a skilled team of professionals, incorporating your key employees in strategic planning, and the importance of having a plan for the transition (that's where we come in).
Read the full article, "Roadmap to an Internal Succession Plan," at FA Magazine.
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:
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.
As more wealth management businesses look to internal succession, more new owners are being created. As a next generation advisor, you should consider whether ownership is the right path for you, and it is important to understand what ownership entails. Owners of a privately-held business, even with a minority position, enjoy several rights and privileges in exchange for their investment in the company, but they are also responsible for meeting certain obligations.
The following rights and responsibilities apply to all owners whether the business is a corporation governed by bylaws or a limited liability company with an operating agreement.*
The last few years I’ve been unable to attend the FPA annual conference due to personal commitments. It was great to be back on site for this year’s event in Chicago.
The Future of the Industry
As an Official Sponsor of the Next Generation, we are tapped into what young advisors are doing, hearing, and saying. It’s an energizing group to be around—the future advisors I met in Chicago view financial planning as a calling as well as a rewarding career. It does strike me as a bit ironic that the “NexGen” community stops at 37 years old, when the average age of a graduate in a financial planning program (as shared during a conversation with university staff) is 41. I suspect these more seasoned career changers will have an easier time making their way into the industry, but it’s important to incorporate the youngest professionals into existing businesses, as they will impact the industry for decades, if they don’t get discouraged. This new generation of advisors are more dynamic and driven than they’re often given credit for, and these savvy younger professionals will continue pushing the status quo to create opportunities for themselves.
Many small financial advisory firms don’t have a Human Resources Department. So when it comes time to seek out, hire, train, and develop employees, those tasks usually fall to the owner. They must figure out where to find candidates, what to ask in an interview, how much to pay, how to set up a training plan, and how to keep them engaged and motivated. That research takes valuable time away from the owner’s other obligations and productivity.
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.