A PROVEN FORMULA FOR
MANAGING SUCCESSFUL TRANSITIONS.
Your individual needs form the basis of the services we offer. We provide three types of engagement, so you can choose the approach that’s best for you. Select from hourly consulting, in-person strategy sessions, or a comprehensive relationship. All services are unbiased, conflict-free, and focused on your best interest.
Our Comprehensive Services Feature a Seven-step Blueprint:
Every engagement begins with a focus on you. We want to understand your goals and aspirations, so we can help construct a plan that could only be right for you. We provide three types of engagement, so you can choose the approach that’s best for you. Select from hourly consulting, in-person strategy sessions, or a comprehensive relationship. All services are unbiased, conflict-free, and focused on your best interest.
- Our process begins with understanding some of the key areas of your current practice:
- What business are you in?
- What are your differentiators?
- What type of clients do you have?
- What services do you provide?
- How do you price your services?
- How do you deliver your services?
- Current products used?
- How do you attract new clients?
- How do you keep existing clients happy?
- What is your market niche?
- Leadership, team roles and responsibilities?
- Operations procedures?
- Training needs?
- Compensation arrangements?
- IT Infrastructure
What would make you happier? Create the practice you want:
- How far are you from your ideal practice?
- What are the hurdles and constraints?
- Eliminate wasted time on firm “initiatives” that are focused on the firm’s goals instead of your clients’ needs.
- Upgrade your firm’s culture
- Control the client experience
- Access the products and services you want
- Work/Family time balance
- Compensation for you and your team
- Administrative and back office support
- Retirement and succession
In addition to the traditional employer-employee model (wirehouses and regional IBD firms), there are many independent options with widely varying support options to consider. Independence no longer means “alone”:
We have performed due diligence on over 50 firms and are able to compare and contrast firms from different business models. In our discussions with clients, we differentiate firms based on 40 criteria in six major categories: culture, platform, technology, firm support, employment relationship with you, and compensation and financial.
- Headline risk
- Who owns the book
- Client- or Shareholder-focus
- Leadership and firm values
- Business strategy alignment
- Integrated vs silo
- Discretionary capabilities
- SMA/UMA (including manager fees and pricing)
- Planning tools
- Fiduciary consulting
- Social media
- Virtual office
- Client access
- History of reinvestment
- Ratio of staff to advisors
- Back office support structure
- Specialist support
- Transition support
- Marketing support
- W-2 or 1099
- Book ownership
- Path to partnership
- Succession options
COMPENSATION AND FINANCIAL
- Grid payout
- Equity and wealth accumulation
- Transition payments
- Working capital
- Access to capital for future acquisitions
We’ll find possible destinations that can help advance your career goals and review them with you to decide who you want to pursue an engagement with for your transition.
Once we’re locked in on new firms and/or providers who you are interested in and who may be able to support your new business, we’ll help you make a data-driven decision to accompany your gut feeling.
You’ll receive a comparison each firm using our 40-criteria test that covers six unique categories: culture, platform, technology, firm support, employment relationship with you, and compensation and financial.
How much bigger will my bank account be if and when I join a new firm? This sounds like a simple question, but there are others that need to be answered. First, will you be receiving a forgivable loan or a business loan? If it is a forgivable loan (which is traditional when you are going to be an employee of your new firm), what is the IRS-approved interest rate that will be used as the loan is forgiven and over what period will this take place? Will you be taxed monthly, quarterly, or annually and how will this impact your cash flow? And most importantly, how much do you get to keep after taxes?
If you are evaluating a forgivable loan versus a business loan, there may be some advantages to borrowing the money, instead of paying ordinary income tax as the loan is forgiven over time. An advisor’s personal capital and cash flow needs will be factors in deciding which makes the most sense. Working with a tax professional can help you determine this.
How much money will show up in your bank account each month? This also seems like a basic question, but it requires further scrutiny.
A small difference in your payout can result in a significant difference to your cash flow. For example, take a $750,000 producer that is getting a 42% payout versus a 50% payout. The difference over a 10 year period, the average term for a forgivable note, is $600,000.
The difference can be even greater for a wirehouse advisor who’s in the “penalty box” -that is, an advisor who’s payout is penalized because his production falls below a certain threshold. In some cases, these advisors can expect to double their income at a new firm.
It also helps to know if you’ll be paid monthly or quarterly. If you can’t spend it at the end of the month, it doesn’t go into your cash flow calculation.
Many of the awards and bonuses that are given to financial advisors vest gradually over a period of time. Others cliff vest in as many as eight years. You need to understand the timing and if the bonus will be paid out as cash, stock or something else.
Once you know how you will be compensated, you can convert this “equity” into a cash flow model or run a simple present value calculation. Don’t forget that these awards will be taxed as ordinary income when you receive them. By way of comparison, if you start your own firm, your equity will be taxed at a much lower rate as a capital gain, if and when you sell your business.
And while we’re talking about money, if you have a W-2 relationship with your firm and consider your “book” yours, you should know that many firms consider it theirs. That means you won’t be able to sell it when you retire and will have to rely on your firm’s retirement compensation provisions instead.
The advantages of being at a firm where you can actually sell your business is something to think about. If you are considering taking “payments” in lieu of selling your practice, a cash flow analysis is a simple and necessary exercise to complete.For example, a $750,000 producer who is at a 42% payout and gets 60% of their production the first year they retire, followed by 50% payout in year two, and 40% in years three and four would receive a total of $598,500 as ordinary income (16% of the total production over the four years). But assuming this advisor could sell the business for two times revenue, they would receive $1,500,000, and potentially better tax treatment. There are several firms that can provide you with a valuation of your business so that you can decide if this is something that makes sense for you.
There is no right or wrong answer to the money issue, and personal preferences and intangibles also need to be considered. But when it comes to the financial aspects of a firm transition, there is quite a lot to consider.
One last word of caution: In many cases financial advisors can be “blinded” by the upfront money that they’re offered. Yes, the upfront can be life changing, but when you look at the total picture including taxes, things may look very different.
With our global perspective, we will advise whether the financial terms of the offer and/or financial support are competitive, and we’ll also help you negotiate any of the non-financial items that are often overlooked.
The more preparation that you do the fewer the number of distractions and “fires” will arise, which will result in a smoother transition. With our guidance, Financial Advisors are prepared to transition to their new firm and to get back into business quickly.
Our established process will guide you through all the steps including:
- Create a checklist
- Establish an activity timeline
- Platform due diligence
- SMA mapping
- Annuity mapping
- Mutual fund mapping
- Lending needs
- Fiduciary consulting
- International clients
- Special client situations
- Tools and resources
- Transition support (on-site and back office)
- Protocol instructions
- Build protocol client list
- Review client segmentation
- Build client contact schedule for the first day, first week, and first month
- Communication plan
- Write talking points for Financial Advisors and Staff