Financial advisors have a lot of practice encouraging their clients to do a formal estate plan, to ensure that their clients’ assets and legacies are left in perfect order.
However, advisors don’t always take this same advice in preparing a succession plan for their own business. The task can seem daunting, but just as you would take your clients step by step in reaching one of their goals, you can do the same for your own plan by following this simple outline: reflect, select, communicate, and document.
Take some time to contemplate what the future of your business looks like without you, and what legacy you would like to leave behind. Make a list of potential successors who you feel would best continue to take care of your clients and their interests when you’re no longer able. This baseline can act as a guide to creating your plan.
Once you have some names of who could take over, determine what qualities are most important to you, and narrow it down to two or three people. For example, would you rather your successor be someone in your office who knows the ins and outs of the business, someone whose professional experience is impressive, or someone who’s great at building and maintaining relationships? Once you prioritize the qualifications and cut down your list of candidates, hold open and honest discussions with each person to understand them at a deeper level and evaluate whether they are a good fit.
Once you’ve chosen your successor, your plan should be clearly communicated to all affected parties, including the successor, your clients, and your family. Tell your successor what is expected of them and how you want them to carry on your legacy. Assure your clients that they will continue to be taken care of, and explain to them why you chose the successor you did. Lastly, remember to inform your family, so that, in case anything unexpected happens, they can make decisions about your business that are in line with what you want.
The last and most important thing you should do is write it all down. Formalizing your succession plan in ink can ensure a painless transition for you and your successor. Your firm may have specific processes, so check with your legal and compliance officers about how to register your plan officially.
Just as it can be necessary to push your clients through the tough decisions to properly plan for their future, advisors need to push themselves to thinking through their estate plan. You have likely spent years building these relationships, and you will want to make sure your business, and your clients’ lives, are left in the best possible hands.