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To Team or Not to Team

By Julie L. Genjac

Questions you need to ask when you're considering adding a new team member

Julie L. Genjac
Julie is a Managing Director of Strategic Markets for Hartford Funds. She works with financial advisors in a practice management capacity, including engaging and educating advisors and their clients about current and emerging opportunities in the financial- services marketplace. She is a registered corporate coach and has spent the last two decades helping hundreds of financial advisor teams create a vision for their practice and serving as their accountability partner in order to execute on that vision.

The decision of whether or not to team up with another advisor is one of the most important considerations a financial advisor can make regarding the future of his or her business. This is a relationship—one which takes respect, trust, and time to grow stronger. This decision also has an impact on clients and shouldn’t be entered into lightly. Consider these topics when mulling over the idea of forming a team:

  • What are you truly looking to accomplish as a result of forming this team? For example, are you looking to form a team to ultimately transition your business to another advisor upon retirement, or because you want to deliver more solutions (wealth planning, investment implementation, insurance or other specific services, etc.) to your clients? What role do you want to play on this potential new team? Consider your strengths, passions, connections, and innate skills.
  • Do you expect this potential new team member to bring a book of business to the table? Is this something that you value, or is that not important to you? How much training are you willing to give this potential new team member? Are you looking for someone who’s new to the industry and can be groomed, or do you prefer someone with industry experience who can jump right in and add value immediately?
  • What do you value in terms of contributions to this potential new team? For example, do you view financial planning as a valuable activity? Do you value practice-management activities such as book segmentation, client-service model creation, marketing and branding, or educational client seminars or appreciation events as valuable contributions? Conversely, is the true measurement of success in your mind how many net assets a person attracts?
  • How do you think your current team members (this could be other advisors, support staff, etc.) will respond to an expanded team? Do any current team members have the ability to fill this potential new role?
  • What’s your philosophy around work? If you put in 12 hours per day, do you expect other team members to do the same? Do you like to spend one month per year as a “snowbird” while prospecting on the golf course? Does your prospective new team member also like to do this?
  • What does your family think of the idea of expanding your team? Are they supportive or concerned? Do you have any family members that may want to join your business in the future? Does your prospective new team member have any family members whom they’ve envisioned working with in a professional capacity?
  • What promises have you made in the past to any current staff, past staff, friends, or family about the possibility of working together in your business? Does each person know where they (and you) stand in that process?
  • What’s your greatest concern or fear about expanding your team?
  • What are you most excited about when you consider the prospect of an expanded team?
  • What are the exact things you envision this prospective new team member to do? Are the activities specific, clear, and able to be measured and monitored?
  • Are you looking to share a split of gross production with this prospective new team member, or are you looking to pay him or her a salary? Each firm has a variety of compensation structures, so it ‘s crucial to ensure you understand what options are available to you prior to proceeding. Each structure will impact you differently, and a clear understanding of the pros, cons, and challenges associated with each approach is very important to understand early on in the process. 
  • Have you ever been part of a team that dissolved? What lasting scars did that process leave on you that may be clouding your judgment? Have you spoken to an unbiased third party regarding your decision to form a team to make sure you’re not missing any key pieces of information based on your own preconceived ideas?

Next Steps

  1. Download the How to Determine if You Need to Add a New Team Member flyer below. Read through it and set aside some time for honest reflection.
  2. If there is more than one advisor on your team, set a meeting with all advisors to discuss in an open, honest conversation. You may find that your original vision for expanding your team has been confirmed, or that your needs are not exactly as you had envisioned.  Either way, this process will help you clarify the current situation and plan for the future.