The Million Dollar Question: How do you get legacy wealth and business into the hands of younger financial advisors with ease? Of course, “with ease” is the key phrase here. While it seems like an obvious choice, the process of passing off business from an aging advisor planning to retire to a younger, less experienced advisor is never easy for either side. The path to partnership and team building between these two entities can be made smoother by careful attention to the following, but it needs to start well before succession begins and be present throughout the creation of the business:
Have a firm philosophy around what succession looks like: Often, disagreement around succession comes out of the fact that there hasn’t been any communication about it. An open planning dialogue between the owners of the business and, once it’s established, those to whom it will pass, can make a world of difference when it actually comes time to execute. Having everything out on the table, so to speak, gives those involved a sense of comfort and provides less opportunity for disagreement to arise once the process actually starts. The most difficult aspect of succession planning is often just bringing it up; once it’s out there you can start shaping the ideas of what it will look like together.
Engage in co-creating & co-authoring: Which brings me to my next point… The best ideas that make businesses thrive and are passed on from generation to generation, are those that are shared both in their actualization and their creation. Advisors we’ve seen make the most progress have actively made their younger partners co-creators in that vision. For older advisors, this provides the benefit of added value from younger advisors, and increases the confidence of their team members. It also provides a deeper sense of involvement for the younger advisors which results in greater attention to their day to day tasks, and greater overall success for the business.
Make yourself relevant: The best way for financial advisors to meet minds across generations has to do with relevancy: Always agree to help clients meet their goals and objectives. You’ll keep yourselves relevant as financial professionals, keep your team members engaged, and keep your clients happy with your services.
Become an expert in the areas that matter to your clients, even if what they care about isn’t where you feel they should put their efforts. Often times, as industry experts, advisors are inclined to provide guidance that is specific to their investment knowledge or their understanding of the markets, but this isn’t always what investors are seeking out. If your client wants to discuss social security, then that is what should matter most to you as that person’s advisor. There are conversations in which guiding the direction is beneficial, but their are others where it can diminish your clients trust in your investment in their personal success.
Connect to the heirs of your clients’ wealth: Use your age to your advantage in this respect. As a younger advisor, make sure that your clients’ children know you are available, as someone who is familiar with their perspective, to discuss their options. As the more senior advisor, know the family history and structure, and understand how this drives your clients’ financial decisions. You are a partner in helping them realize their future financial goals, so you need to know the background in order to appropriately move forward.
Just show up & engage in the work. It’s not easy for younger financial advisors to fill the role of a senior advisor, especially when considering the 30+ years of time and energy that advisor has put into their businesses. As a younger advisor keep this in mind, maintain your humility, and understand the gift you are being given – it’s not just about getting assets, it’s about learning and participating in the vision for a business. It’s a long game for you, as it was for the advisor who built the book in the first place, so carry your weight over time.
Coaching Questions from this Article:
How accessible is the conversation about succession to the people who will eventually be impacted by it? Is there a clearly defined goal for succession that those involved in your business are aware of and can openly discuss?
How well are older and younger advisors working together at defining and actualizing successful outcomes for your business?
Are you actively focusing on the outcomes that are important to your clients in your business planning for now and in the future?