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5 Steps to Jump-starting the Ownership Conversation

The decision to pursue ownership in a financial advisory firm is a crucial choice in your career. This rewarding goal comes with both benefits and responsibilities that go beyond the role of adviser, and require a variety of business skill sets. Before you consider asking for ownership from the existing owners of your firm, you need to prove that it is not only something you are capable of, but something you have earned.

Here are five essential steps to consider as you build the strongest case for ownership:

Step One: Get Involved

First things first, you must establish your commitment and dedication. Take interest in the ins and outs of running a business (as far as is appropriate) and offer to take on responsibility in these areas. Seize every opportunity to enhance your managerial and business operational knowledge and skills. Not only will this allow you to build up experience to support ownership, it will also help you be better equipped to take on ownership.

You must be willing to do more than just produce revenue. By assuming operational obligations, you are investing in the future of your career and contributing to the overall efficiency and profitability of the firm. Adapt a leadership mindset and work for the good of the team rather than your sole interest.

As you get involved and learn more about the business, examine the company culture and team. Ownership is a long-term commitment, so be sure this is the team and business you’ll be passionate about working with for years to come.

Step 2: Know Your Audience

It is important to recognize the priorities and goals of the existing owner(s) of the business. It’s helpful to get to know your future fellow owners on a personal level, to be sure, but you must dig deeper. Take time to learn about their journey in building the business. Consider how they envision their own careers, including their plans for eventual retirement.

A big part of this step is recognizing the time, energy and money the founding owners have invested in building the business. You should acknowledge that your goal of ownership is meant to build upon and to work alongside them until they’re ready to fully hand over the reins. Keep in mind that a well-crafted succession plan means business growth for the entire company. If you help to make the company grow, everyone involved—including the founding owners—will reap the rewards of a sustainable business.

As you develop your own ideas for the business, directly address the ownership team’s largest business concerns and demonstrate how you can contribute. Ensuring that your objectives align with other owners’ objectives will help you avoid undermining your proposal of ownership.

Step 3: Demonstrate Your Value

In order to take your place amongst the owners of the business you will need to convince the existing ownership team that you add value. Look back at all you’ve accomplished, invested and taken responsibility for. Look to the future, think about the growth of the business and identify contributions you can make that will prove that you are prepared to make a long-term commitment to the business. From there you can establish your value proposition:

  • Refer to your achievements with examples and measurable contributions to growth
  • Present your goals and ideas for the future
  • Research the business’s position in the industry
  • Identify challenges and improvement opportunities and outline your plans for addressing them
  • Be as specific as possible

Step 4: Build the Strategy

Facilitating the addition of a new owner in a financial services business has many moving parts and requires careful consideration and planning. The more you understand the process yourself, the more effective your conversation will be.  You can do some of the legwork in advance by:

  • Exploring effective strategies for internal succession, especially in the context of this unique, relationship-based and regulated industry
  • Understanding the logistics and mechanics of modifying the ownership structure and consider the best way for the business to move forward
  • Considering the business’s organizational, cash flow and compensation structures
  • Examining financing options and how they could integrate with and alleviate hesitancy during the transition process
  • Knowing where to access tools and support to help develop and execute a smooth transition plan

Be proactive about addressing questions and concerns that might arise and show how your proposal can be accomplished, including how you will pay for your share of ownership and how long the process could take. By having some of these answers at the ready, you will show your commitment to the role and your respect of their time and consideration.

Step 5: Timing and Approach

You’ve built a foundation of demonstrable value. You’ve prepared your plan to contribute to the growth of the business. You’ve thought about how to make it all happen. Now it’s time to actually ask for ownership.

Given the weight and delicacy of the proposal, you should find the right setting. Request a formal meeting (an annual review provides an optimal opportunity). If there’s more than one owner, consider whether you want to broach the subject with all of them at once or with just one owner with whom you have a strong rapport.

You should also be sensitive to timing. Pay attention to what’s happening in the company (and the industry) that could either support or undermine your goal of having a productive conversation. It’s best to avoid times of stress due to market performance, taxes or client issues. Identify any potential immediate needs your ownership could help fill such as the imminent retirement of an existing owner or a planned acquisition. Piggybacking on a big professional win can help your case. There is no perfect moment, but a cognizance of timing and circumstances will certainly help the outcome of your request.

The road to gaining ownership in an existing business starts far ahead of asking for it. You must earn the privilege, responsibility and rewards. And you cannot expect that ownership will be granted without evidence of your value as an adviser and as a leader. Once you’re able to demonstrate your initiative, ingenuity and your commitment to the long-term success of the enterprise, you are ready to take the next step in your career as a business owner.

Editor’s note: This article by FP Transitions originally appeared in the May issue of the FPA Next Generation Planner. Download the NGP app today to read all back issues! Stay tuned for the next piece of helpful content from FP Transitions in the December 2019 issue, in which Kem Taylor explores the three questions all next generation planners should ask in a job interview.  

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FP Transitions is the nation’s leading provider of valuation, M&A, succession planning and enterprise consulting for financial advisers. Its integrated team of consultants includes analysts, legal professionals and industry expert consultants working together to provide end-to-end business growth solutions for advisers. Founded in 1999, FP Transitions launched and continues to operate the largest fully supported marketplace for buying and selling financial practices. FP Transitions is the official sponsor of the FPA Next Generation Planner, committed to providing resources and tools that elevate the profession that transforms lives.


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How To Get the Most Out Of Industry Conferences

Fall is the time of year for industry conferences, like the FPA Annual Conference in Minneapolis that starts tomorrow. These events are a great way to hone your knowledge, meet new people and stay up to date on new and exciting ideas in the profession. Here are some tips to make the most of your next event:

Set your schedule in advance. Find out what the sessions are and make a list of the ones you want to attend. This doesn’t mean you can’t make some changes once you get to the event, but oftentimes there is very little time between breakout sessions and you don’t want to be scrambling and trying to make a decision.

Get out of your comfort zone. It’s so easy to attend sessions on topics that you are more comfortable with. You should be using this time to expose yourself to new and unfamiliar topics.

Review the schedule with someone who knows and understands your career path. Before every conference, I go over my plans with one or two members on my team. We’ll review the sessions I’ve picked to see if there are other options that might be better aligned with my goals, skill set and ideal client profile.

Come prepared. You wouldn’t come to a client meeting without a way to take notes. The same goes for a conference. For some people that might be a laptop, for others it might be a pen and paper. Whatever system works best for you, just make sure that your notes are in a place that you can find them later.

Don’t skip the sponsors. Do your research ahead of time—who’s coming and what services do they provide? Can you make a good connection? Even if you aren’t sure their service may not fit your needs right now, they may later. Or, even better, an opportunity may come along where you can connect them with someone else.

Do some networking. Find out who is going in advance and make a list of people you might want to connect with. Many conferences have apps you can utilize for this, as well as LinkedIn pages or Facebook events. Find out if there are any meetups or dinners you could attend. If you see someone by themselves, ask if you can join them. Many people are attending these events solo and may be uncomfortable going up to others.

Do a data dump when you get back. You’ve just absorbed a ton of information, now you’ll want to put it together in a meaningful way. I like to schedule a meeting with the people I initially went over my schedule with and bring back my big takeaways.

Share with your team. Last but not least, share what you’ve learned with your team. I will usually review the key points at our weekly staff meeting and bring more specific topics in-depth to others that I know would be interested.

September NGP

Editor’s note: A version of this article originally appeared in the September 2019 issue of the FPA Next Generation Planner, an app publication that provides helpful and relevant content specifically for NexGen planners. Download the app in the Apple App or Google Play store. Want to write for the FPA Next Generation Planner or have story ideas? Email NGP@OneFPA.org

Jessica Goedtel

Jessica Goedtel, CFP®, is an assistant vice president at Valley National Financial Advisors in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania.


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Beyond the Blame Game: 3 Steps to Incorporate Responsibility Into Your Business

In today’s climate, many sources are quick to place blame on the reasons for changes in our economy and overall market volatility. Likewise, many advisers have a tendency to do something similar when having to explain to others the state of their business. Statements like, “If the market would cooperate, I would be doing better,” or “Clients don’t see the urgency in getting together while the market is doing well,” are simply examples of excuses for not taking responsibility. The consequence in making those excuses is the possible outcomes. Attending to your clients and their portfolios during both up and down markets is vital.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said it best when he said, “No one can cheat you out of ultimate success but yourself.”

Successful advisers know that true growth is really up to oneself regardless of what is going on both in and out of your control. You must be willing to be honest about what is currently working and not working for you. Then, you must be willing to adjust and adapt to changing conditions. Next, you must decide on what actions will actually guide you toward positive results. Implementing those activities and continually assessing your results will keep you accountable to yourself and prevent the “because of everyone else” blame game.

Let’s take a look at specific steps for how you can incorporate responsibility into your business.

Step No. 1: Be Completely Honest

Honesty truly is the best policy and what better person to be honest with than yourself. However, many advisers find it difficult to admit that they themselves are the true cause of their own not-so-great results. Let me share about one adviser who I’ve worked with to identify his shortfalls and some solutions we utilized for replacing them.

Bill T. is a 15-year veteran financial adviser who found himself on a production plateau. After years of building up a client base, he simply stopped prospecting. His rationale was that he had “made it” and that anyone with his years of experience should not have to prospect. However, his company did not share the same point of view and thus was not happy with Bill’s level of production.

So, during one of our coaching sessions I asked Bill a number of questions to determine his honest view about prospecting. It didn’t take long before he realized that he needed to change his perspective about prospecting from being an obstacle to being an opportunity.

Step No. 2: Adjust and Adapt to Changing Conditions

One of the hardest things to do once you face the truth is to make the necessary shifts in both attitude and tasks. The best way to do this is to create a well-thought-out action plan. Take time to develop it and be realistic about your own expectations. In Bill’s case, he knew he needed to get back to prospecting but had no idea where to begin since it had been quite some time since he had prospected. So, we mapped out an action plan together.

We first determined his target market, which was business owners. Then, we worked on how to approach them by scripting out a formula for what to say during the initial contact. Next, we worked on brainstorming every possible objection he might hear and how to overcome them to set appointments. Finally, we practiced the process so that his first call would sound flawless.

Step No. 3: Implement and Evaluate Your Action Plan

Now it is time to implement in real time and constantly be evaluating (and tweaking) your action plan to fine-tune it to work optimally.

This is best done by determining what time of the day you will do particular tasks and sticking to that blocked time. You also need to allocate the time to record your daily activities and record the outcome on a daily, weekly and monthly.

After several weeks, Bill realized that his pipeline was starting to fill up with qualified prospects that were interested in meeting with him. Organically, he began turning those prospects into clients. His company took notice and asked him if he would be interested in teaching other advisers how he had turned things around.

Why Taking Responsibility Works

The reason why taking responsibility for your own success works is because it’s not anyone else’s responsibility for you to succeed. And choosing to blame the economy, the market, your firm or others will always result in a losing game.

If you would like a complimentary coaching session with me, please email Melissa Denham, director of client servicing.

Dan Finley

Daniel C. Finley is the president and co-founder of Advisor Solutions, a business consulting and coaching service dedicated to helping advisers build a better business.