The ClientWise Blog

How Financial Advisor Teams Identify and Resolve Conflict: Part II

Posted by Ray Sclafani on Dec 20, 2013, 7:57:00 AM

The following is Part II of this blog post, and is a real-life example, pulled from the ClientWise files (with client approval). To protect the anonymity and confidentiality of the process, the names have been changed.


Revealed: Indisputable Evidence

The power of the ClientWise Team Insights 3-6-0 team assessment is that it goes beyond anecdotal evidence. In the case of Sam Nicholas and his team, the data was indisputable. Across all spectrums of input—i.e. partners, staff, clients, prospective clients, and vendors—feedback pointed to the irrefutable reality that one of the partners (Partner #4) had significant issues regarding his leadership, management and communication.


A Frank, Candid, and Moderated Discussion

Once this issue came to light, the ClientWise moderator led a discussion that brought forward all feedback.  The resulting debate was heated at times, yet every stakeholder had the opportunity to speak his or her mind. The outcome of this intense examination and frank conversation was that Partner #4 was asked to leave the partnership. Within days, the team had negotiated an exit strategy, break-up agreement and transition period whereby Partner #4 would leave the team within a 45-day time frame.


Once this partnership issue was resolved, it freed up the team to look directly at a list of 14 additional issues that were likely to affect the team in its push for greater growth. Over subsequent coaching sessions: 1) the team was able to re-define the roles and responsibilities across the practice in order to make them more defined and streamlined, 2) recommitted to improving their internal communication skills to resolve conflict in a non-argumentative manner, 3) and instituted a measurement of the partners’ success that was not AUM-based, and instead more aligned with measuring meeting activity with Leads, Prospects, Advocates and Clients. The partners’ understanding that the ultimate driver of growth is activity drove this fundamental change; more specifically, real meetings with real people.



One year later, Sam reports that there is much good news to recount:


  • The AUM that was lost due to the departure of Partner #4 was regained and then some. In fact, assets under management are right on track with their goals.
  • Revenue is up significantly.
  • The practice is more efficiently run. The number of meetings with Leads, Prospects and Advocates is up. Moreover, the firm has been recognized as a great place to work by: Research Magazine, The Washington Business Journal, and the Washingtonian Magazine.
  • Roles and responsibilities of the partners and staff are much better aligned.
  • The culture of the entire team is completely changed, and everyone seems much happier in interactions with each other.


Of course, not every financial advisory team will experience the same dramatic results as what was experienced by Sam’s team. Yet his experience demonstrates the effectiveness of this process in getting to the bottom of team issues that are challenging and difficult to penetrate.


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Topics: Coaching, Team Development