A key factor that is often overlooked when considering a move to a new firm is the process of transitioning your business. You know it will take some work and has to be done, so you think of it as a necessary evil. In reality, without the proper team, process, and support you could end up in a long, drawn-out transition period resulting in the loss of clients, income, and sanity.
As Director of Training at Carson Institutional Alliance, I have the privilege helping new partners adjust to our firm’s processes, procedures, and online systems. Part of this includes working with a team of individuals that we call the Transformation Team, a team designed to help new partner offices transform (transition) their practice to Carson Institutional Alliance. Our core Transformation Team boasts over 50 years of collective experience in supporting financial advisors and this unique experience has helped us identify the three key challenges every advisor faces when transitioning their practice to a new broker dealer or RIA:
Fear of the Unknown
Getting Back to Business as Usual
Making the Transition a Launching Point
If you’re considering a transition, here are the top three things your new partner should be doing to address these key challenges.
Key Challenge 1 – Fear of the Unknown
Transitioning your business is something you don’t do every day. In fact, during your career as a financial advisor you will likely only change firms a few times at most. The thought of a transition takes you out of your comfort zone since you don’t know the steps to take or the process to follow. You fear explaining this change to your clients and the range of potential reactions. The fear can be so intense that many advisors choose to stay put—even if another option would be better for their business AND their clients—because they have no idea where to start. Don’t partner with a firm unless they have a strong process, team, and plan to manage the transition. Here’s what you need to be looking for:
Process – Ask the firm to explain their transition process and to supply documentation. The process should include details about task management, CRM conversions, licensing support, investment offering education, marketing, paperwork preparation, and training.
Team – Ask to meet a few members of their transition team. Look for a team with experience and a passion to help you succeed. Find out how many people are on the team and the level of support they will provide as you navigate the transformation process.
Project Management – Ask the firm how they keep track of the individual tasks that need to be completed as part of the process. Look for a firm that uses web based project management software allowing you to access a task list. Tasks should have due dates and be assigned to a specific person. A quality partner meets with you weekly to review your progress, discuss upcoming due dates, and provide support as needed.
Key Challenge 2 – Getting Back to Business as Usual
When considering a transition, every advisor wants the answer to one question, “How quickly can I get my book of business moved?” Moving your book of business will likely cause a disruption to clients and affect the cash flow of your practice. Your goal is to complete the transition as quickly as possible so you can get back to servicing existing clients, meeting with prospects, and running your business.
Find a firm that will support you as you move data, complete client paperwork, and adjust to new processes and systems. Key areas of focus should include:
Paperwork Completion – When you move your book of business, you normally have to open new accounts for all of your clients: this means new paperwork. Beyond learning what forms are required to open a new account, your new firm should help you formulate a plan for client meetings and completing the required forms. At minimum, they should supply you with required paperwork packets for each client and ideally pre-populate paperwork with existing client information. Make sure they are putting the pieces in place so all you have to do is execute with client meetings.
CRM Conversion Support – The data in your CRM is invaluable. If you use it effectively it tells a story about your clients and helps ensure client retention. Often times a move to a new firm means new technology and a CRM conversion. It’s important to determine the level of support provided as you convert your CRM so you’re not spending countless hours exporting data and editing Excel spreadsheets. Find a firm that will coach you through the data export process and do the legwork of formatting data in Excel. If you partner with the right firm, all you should have to do is confirm data accuracy before the final import.
Training – You’ve been running a well-oiled machine for years and now you are tasked with learning a new set of processes, procedures, and online systems. Ensure that your new firm has a plan in place to get you and your staff up to speed. Training is my passion, so when a new partner joins Carson Institutional Alliance I first analyze their practice to determine key areas of focus from a training standpoint. I use this information to create a custom training plan and then execute this plan with a series of live training sessions. Too many firms push you off to online training resources, which are a cookie cutter solution and take away interactivity and the ability to ask questions on the fly. Online resources should serve as a supplement to live training, not in place of it. Be sure that you find a firm with a solid, well thought out training plan and live execution.
Key Challenge 3 – Making the Transition a Launching Point
For the most part, advisors choose to move to a new broker dealer or RIA for offerings that will improve, develop or change their practice, such as: additional investment strategies; support to free up time; superior technology; or the potential to improve operational efficiencies. Unfortunately, many advisors fail to immediately take advantage of the offerings of their new firm. Often times, the work put into a transition can slow a practice down as everyone wants a break after the transition period. It’s important to find a new firm that will keep you on track after your transition period and help you make your transition a launching point for bigger and better things. Here’s what you should look for:
Support Calls – Look for a firm that offers ongoing support calls on a periodic basis to answer your questions and recommend ways to improve your practice. Your new firm should use these calls to identify potential areas of improvement and coach you on implementation. This continuous dialogue will keep you on track as you work to take advantage of the offerings that made you move in the first place. These calls should to identify training opportunities to ensure you are making the most out of your new technology platform and continuously creating new operational efficiencies.
Sales Coaching Calls – Your new firm should offer periodic coaching calls to keep you up to speed on the latest investment offerings and to share ideas on how to increase your AUM.
When considering the move to a new firm, don’t overlook the transition period and be sure to carefully evaluate the process, team, and support provided to mitigate these common challenges and to help make your transition a launching point.
For advisor use only. Not intended for client distribution.
Curious to find out how you stack up against other advisors?
Take 2015 Advisor Practice