Succession planning key to long-term client service

Ninety-nine percent of independent financial services and advisory practices go out of business when their founder retires, according to consulting firm FP Transitions.

Few owners relish the topic of succession planning. That was certainly true in my case. For years, succession planning seemed like a distraction from my core work of portfolio management consulting. Like many other independent financial professionals, I was more “practice oriented” than “business oriented.”

Over time, my efforts increased to assure that the firm’s clients would continue to benefit from our services in my absence. So, although I have no plans to retire anytime soon, I placed increased emphasis on building a business that would endure. Here are several ideas on what has worked in that process:

Best in class client service team. High-functioning day-to-day operations are the foundation for everything else. I was very fortunate in this area, because years ago I hired a director of financial operations and service specialists who quickly became indispensable to clients. Growing our practice also allows staff to grow in responsibility.

The right consultant hires for the future. Another critical aspect to growing an enduring business is hiring the right people. We’ve focused on seasoned professionals with industry credentials. These professionals bring in diverse and complementary expertise, which benefits clients and co-workers.

Institutional resources. Certain external partnerships can deepen bench strength. In our case, investment experts at a large independent consulting firm serve as an extension of our team.

Brand identity. Branding is a complex topic. Sometimes keeping the founder’s name on the door is exactly the right thing to do. In our case, we selected a name that better communicates our multi-advisor consulting team.

Bill Perry is the founder of Milwaukee-based Park Place Capital Management Inc., formerly Perry Capital Management

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