Dealing with an Obnoxious Wholesaler
I run a small practice with just one other advisor. We are both in our early 50s and thinking about what’s next. He keeps saying he wants to work until he is in his 70s. I want to get out once I turn 65. We are both healthy and enjoy the business, but we don’t see eye-to-eye on how to plan for what comes next. We have stayed away from addressing this for fear it will hurt our relationship and our clients. Any tips on how we can create a plan that works for both of us?
Eric N., Midwest
You have so many issues intertwined in this one question! There is the issue of the partnership or working relationship between the two of you. There is the question of succession planning and what that entails for both of you. There is the question of aligning goals and values so both of your needs are met. And there is the issue that you aren’t communicating well about this right now and seem to be deliberately avoiding the discussion!
It is a lot to address in one answer. I’ll offer some guidance for next steps:
- It’s critically important that the two of you have an open discussion about what you want, and what success looks like to both of you down the road. If you think it would be difficult to have this discussion, hire a business coach. There are individuals who specialize in psychology and communication but work primarily with businesses. Someone like this could help facilitate the dialogue and help to keep the emotional reactions to a minimum.
- Before the discussion, you should both be clear about what you want. If you are ready to leave the business before your partner, do you want to sell to him? Do you want to insist you both sell out at the same time? Do you want to sell, or do you want to merge? Would it make sense to find a company that could buy you now where the two of you could stay on for the next several years? Be clear on what your objectives really are before you begin the dialogue.
- Be sure you both understand what’s important to you. Evaluate your culture and your approach to clients. Evaluate your investment approach and service offerings. Be clear on the components of the business that you both want to keep intact, and where you may have differences of opinion.
You will be more confident about this issue if you take some time to be clear on what you want, discuss it and find your common ground.
Beverly Flaxington co-founded The Collaborative, a consulting firm devoted to business building for the financial services industry in 1995; in 2008 she co-founded Advisors Trusted Advisor to offer dedicated practice management resources to advisors, planners and wealth managers. She is currently an adjunct professor at Suffolk University teaching undergraduate students Leadership & Social Responsibility. Beverly is a Certified Professional Behavioral Analyst (CPBA) and Certified Professional Values Analyst (CPVA).
She has spent over 25 years in the investment industry and has been featured in Selling Power Magazine and quoted in hundreds of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal, MSNBC.com, Investment News and Solutions Magazine for the FPA. She speaks frequently at investment industry conferences and is a speaker for the CFA Institute.