“Fear of change works hard to convince you it is bad for you.”
Mark Connelly, Change Management Coach
Mark Connelly, Change Management Coach
Whether we know it or not, we avoid change every day, in both big and small ways. Transitioning to something new can be intimidating and most people instinctively stay with what is safe and predictable.
Think about your daily choices and how difficult it might be for you to switch between something as simple as a Mac to PC, or a PC to a Mac. If you have always had a Mac, you may be reluctant to try a PC, for a variety of reasons – all related to our fear of change.
Will you be able to properly transfer your files? Will you be able to learn the new operating system? Will you have the support to help you learn how to use your new computer?
Preparing for a transition works much like designing a financial plan for a client. The basis for any financial plan is aligning the plan with a client’s goals. Developing a transition plan is similar in that it begins with understanding what your goals are, what success means to you, and what it means to your clients.
It is also important to consider the needs of your staff, your business, and how it may impact your family. If you are able to define all of these considerations, you are better prepared to communicate with the new firm as to what your expectations are, thus determining if they are truly a good fit.
These same underlying fears we have for something as simple as buying a Mac instead of our trusted PC, are the same fears we have for transitioning a business, and while this may not seem like a fair comparison – computer to business – the fundamentals remain the same.
Deciding where to take your business in the competitive landscape of financial planning and investment management is a strategic decision that requires a thorough exploration of both culture and philosophy.
You may ask yourself questions such as “Is this firm the best fit for me and my clients?” or “Can this firm help me get to where I see myself in ten years?” In the end, you have to determine if the firm you are considering provides the culture that will support your practice and the business philosophy to support your professional mission.
For many advisors, overcoming uncertainty seems like a virtually impossible task, and the question will always be, “Have I made the right choice?”
These questions are viable and should be analyzed in depth, but keep in mind that reality can be very different from what you think it is. While the perception may be that transitioning will bring nothing but complexities and questions, reality may actually be quite different.
Between re-papering, moving to new systems, learning new processes and understanding new technology, transitioning can give you a feeling of trepidation and it can create a significant time-drain – causing you to lose precious time spent on building your business.
To transition your business with as little disruption as possible, make sure your information is well organized and consider the portability of the products and services your clients are invested in. Do they have other accounts and/or policies with your current firm, and could this affect their transition with you? Make sure to address all of the details about the associations between your clients and your current firm.
If you are concerned that you might miss an important component of the transition, look for firms that can support you in all aspects of the move. A comprehensive on boarding process can provide you with step-by-step assistance, walking you through the transition process from start to finish.
Some firms feel that the client belongs to them, requiring you to sacrifice the time, energy and effort you have invested in your client relationships if you decide to go elsewhere.
Like you, your clients may also fear change, especially when it comes to their finances. If you have long-standing relationships or even newly built relationships, you may find that clients are more inclined to follow you and not the firm you were with.
Sustaining the rapport with the advisor and their financial expertise is sometimes far more important than with the firm, and by assisting your clients through the transition period with ample communication, they will more likely feel comfortable moving their assets along with you versus leaving them with an advisor they don’t know.
Knowing what agreements are in place with your current firm and what agreements are necessary in order to move into a new firm is crucial when complying with the legal aspects of a transition. Understanding these legal issues can be complicated so it is best to seek legal advice from an attorney who can help you with your transition.
Being independent is critical to providing a truly customized approach to client support and many advisors believe that in order to become independent they must invest in building and running their own firm. By doing this, they can find the diversification, processes, and technology they seek to provide for their clients. However,
starting and running a firm is a major investment of both finances and time, pulling you away from not only your clients, but your family.
Look for a company that can provide you with the tools and services you need to remain independent, saving you the time and effort needed to run your own firm. In addition, consider other aspects of the business including their investment and technology platforms, payout levels, and if they can truly provide the assistance you need to run a cost-effective and efficient business, as an independent advisor.