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Part I: Start Planning While You’re Still Growing

By Ray Sclafani | June 11, 2015

Screen_Shot_2015-06-11_at_12.12.36_PMSuccession planning is the buzzword of the year. People are discussing it in every office and reading about it in every publication, but so few of us are actually doing it. Statistics show that only one-third of financial advisors have even started thinking about succession planning for their businesses, while those who have are so close to retirement that their efforts might all be for naught.

What’s the best approach? Start succession planning while you’re still building your business. That means that all of the thought and care that you put into your business will do triple the work because it will determine: A) what your approach looks like today B) what your approach looks like 5 years from now once you’ve settled into your business and have built or expanded your team and C) what your business will look like ten years from now when you start taking the steps to ensure it’s success after your retirement.

Even the most successful advisors are daunted by a task of this magnitude, so let’s break it down. Start by looking at the ClientWise Professional Advisory Model—see the image at the top of this blog post—and tackle the following questions for each section:  

 Organizing Priorities: Organizing and managing priorities is a necessity for every top-performing financial advisory practice. ClientWise helps advisors determine their organizational goals and priorities, and create an accountability structure to adhere to them.

Today: Looking at your business goals for the year, carefully consider your daily, weekly, and monthly activities as they stand. Which of these things are directly contributing to your goals? Which of these are things that can be delegated to someone else? Perhaps a team member on a team you’ve yet to build.

5 years from now: How will your priorities change in the next five years? How is your role different now that your business has grown? How are your processes scaled for completing more business in less time? What do industry projections say about how your business will change?

10 years from now: How will your business run without you if you’ve retired or moved onto something else? Who will take over the functions that you’ve done for the past decade?

Client Engagement Model™: Client engagement goes deeper than just making your clients feel comfortable. At its highest level, client engagement develops Loyal Client Advocates™, those clients who provide a steady stream of introductions and referrals to your business.

Today: Do you have a process around which you engage with clients that is scalable and repeatable, or are you reinventing the wheel one client at a time? What makes your engagement process different from other financial advisors and do you want to call attention to this through your process?

5 years from now: Are the needs and points of engagement for your target market different? Are your ideal clients going to be accessible in the same way they were five years ago? Will this still be an appropriate process for how will run your business?

10 years from now: Will your clients be communicating with you through a different means or even a different person a decade from now? Will you be there to connect with them, or will it be a successor in your place? Knowing these things now will shift how you communicate to and engage with clients in the present.

Client Acquisition Strategy™: There is incredible value in a written, coherent client acquisition strategy that includes opportunity management, pipeline management, lead generation, lead conversion, and lead qualification.

Today: Where are you most successful at finding clients? Do you have a clear idea of how the components above fit into your acquisition process? Where does your system break down, if anywhere?

5 years from now: How do you perceive the industry will have changed and, more importantly, how are you going to respond to this change through your client acquisition strategy? Will your clients be seeking opportunity elsewhere or through different means?

10 years from now: This might be hard to determine, but what does opportunity management, pipeline management and lead generation look like a decade from now? Or more appropriately, what is your ideal vision of what this process will look like ten years from now, and will you be directly involved in it?

Of course all of these answers won’t be immediately evident to you, but it helps to begin to envision how you see these areas of your business function down the line. Don’t forget to check out our blog next week for Part II of this article.

Powerful coaching questions from this article:

  1. What thought have you put into your current processes in each of these areas of your business?
  2. How do you envision your business five years from now, and ten years from now? How does this inform your succession planning strategy?
  3. What does imagining the future bring to the surface about how you see your business in the present?

Topics: Client Acquisition Client Engagement Succession Planning Business Planning

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