Teams are in. It seems as though everyone has caught the fever.

I've spent a great deal of time lately advising brokers about forming teams. However, it concerns me that many of the reps were breaking the first commandment of team building. They were impulsively entering relationships. And impulsive relationships, be they personal or professional, are dangerous.

For example, a senior broker wants to align with another experienced broker of slightly lesser production, but the senior broker doesn't quite trust the other individual. However, they are still strongly considering a partnership. Huh?

Another veteran is one signature away from taking on a rookie broker about to be fired for lack of production and poor work habits. Huh?

Then, two friends who operate independently but work in the same office are thinking seriously about forming a team because "everyone else in our branch is." Huh?

Undoubtedly, you've been privy to conversations that were equally impetuous. I've begun asking brokers to assess the "impulse quotient" on any change they are considering in their business. It is critical to keep the proper mind-set, especially since the opportunities in financial services are increasing.

For example, after measuring six core job criteria for 250 of the most common occupations, the Jobs Rated Almanac 2001, a publication by editors from The Wall Street Journal, rated "financial planner" as No. 1. In describing their futuristic view of a financial planning career, the editors' optimism continued: "Opportunities will increase markedly as the demand for skilled professionals increases. As awareness of this occupation grows, so will the opportunities." Stockbroker rated No. 90, in the top 36% of ratings.

Congratulations! Working in the financial services industry puts you in the right place at the right time. But don't pat yourself on the back yet. Having the right strategy in the business makes all the difference in your success. Building a practice with multiple players who are committed to the right strategy, attuned to the future of financial services and tied into the needs of affluent investors is a powerful undertaking. Building a team with people still working in the old Wall Street model could be a mistake.

Charging a fee versus a commission, being part of a team rather than solo and hiring more support to assist with the workload all are excellent steps. But they must be linked to the right strategy. Each step, by itself, is unlikely to enable you to profit on available opportunities. You are in the right place at the right time, and now let's make absolutely certain you are applying the right strategy.

In order to profit on the opportunities of today and tomorrow, a highly skilled and committed parabroker is essential.

As you develop a strategy for becoming a financial solutions provider, you might want to give some thought to having your indispensable parabroker evolve into your practice manager. As practice manager, your parabroker coordinates everything, increases operational efficiency, watches over your schedule, manages any personnel issues, and makes sure financial plans are updated and complete.

Sales assistants who want to become parabrokers will find the practice manager job filled with possibilities. They are in the right place at the right time and now need to become aligned with brokers who have the right strategy.