Are you excited about the new financial landscape? Are you looking forward to focusing more on your clients and who they are and less on selling products and hitting financial goals? Does being a fiduciary and mentor dovetail with how you want to run your practice? Do the bosses at your current firm feel the same way? If you’re like most of the advisors we talk to, you were nodding enthusiastically during the first three questions, but stopped cold once the topic of firm leadership rolled around.
Many of the financial advisors who will be leading the charge into the future are currently working at big firms. And, for the most part, big firms are still operating with the same sell, sell, sell mindset. So where does that leave the entrepreneurially-minded advisor? Usually, it involves a move to become independent. But wait! Before you make that move, you need to lay the groundwork. Here are five tips you can put in place now that will help you go independent in the future.
Grow Where You’re Planted
You can begin serving your clients the way you want to while you’re still employed at a larger firm. Though the firm owners may be pushing you to sell the products or services that will make them the most money, it doesn’t mean you have to do it. You can treat your clients with respect, get to know them, mentor them, and do all the other things a fiduciary should do. Many advisors in this situation fall into the trap of thinking in black and white. “I have to treat clients like they tell me to while I’m here, but once I go independent, everything will change.” Why can’t you start making the change now? Grow where you’re planted and you’ll be better prepared when the time finally comes to leave.
Find a Seasoned Advisor to Partner With
If you look around any big firm, you can usually identify a few senior advisors who have their eye on retirement. If you’ve developed relationships with any of these senior advisors, don’t abandon them when you make the decision to go independent. Cultivate and deepen the relationship. You might learn some valuable information they’ve gained over the years and you may even find a way to take over some of their clients once they decide to turn over their book of business.
Review Your Employee Contract with an Attorney
Do you know what your contract with the firm looks like? Do you have non-compete clauses or other areas that may cause problems once you leave? It’s always best to go over your contract with an employee attorney before you make a move. He or she can let you know if you’re going to have some problems if you walk out the door, and you can start planning how to deal with those problems now. No one wants the joy of starting a new business to be overshadowed by a big ol’ lawsuit!
Focus on Building Relationships Before You Make a Move
It’s likely that you have a whole list of clients you enjoy working with now. It’s also likely that you’d really enjoy taking them with you when you start your own firm. Continue to build those relationships and meet with clients as much as possible. While you may not be able to tell them your exit plan, you can at least solidify the working relationship you have and try to get them into programs that would be transferable should they decide to follow you.
Take Advantage of Extra Learning Opportunities
Big firms have the advantage of big money. While this is usually the root of most of their problems, it can also have some benefits. If your firm offers workshops, training, apps, books, or any learning tool that can make you a better advisor (and a better person), jump on it! Supplement these tools with other learning opportunities you cultivate on your own. Remember, the new breed of advisors are the ones who can coach and mentor their clients on a whole host of topics other than finances!
When looking for tips on how to be an independent financial advisor, too many people think they can’t start putting a plan into action until they actually hang their own shingle. The truth is, you can start laying the groundwork now while you still have the benefit of an office and steady paycheck. This makes the move much easier and less stressful once the time is right.