The most common exit strategy for a veteran advisor getting ready to retire is to sell his or her book according to the guidelines established either by their firm or industry valuations standards. There is another approach, but it requires planning — succession planning. These advisors are able to transition their business to a junior advisor on their team.

The financial services industry is acutely aware of financial advisor demographics—the aging advisor. The majority of larger producers are veteran advisors who will be retiring soon. Older advisors tend to have older clients, and few of these veterans have developed professional relationships with the children of their affluent clients.

For the elite advisors we’ve studied, the intersection of succession planning and next gen planning is key. These forward thinking advisors have built a multigenerational wealth management team designed by hiring and training next-gen advisors to work with the next-gen clients. This addresses the issue of succession planning by grooming this younger advisor to eventually take over the business.

It’s not unusual for these elite multigenerational teams have three to four partners, all junior in age to the senior partner, with each serving a specific role and having an expertise within the team.

There are two ways the match-making often happens: A senior veteran advisor carefully invites a junior financial advisor to join the team, or a junior FA selects a senior FA and sells him on the long-term benefits of joining the team.

In either case, these elite team leaders are very selective in who they invite to join their business. The following are some of the key criteria used in the selection process (applied by both junior and senior advisor):

  • Age – It’s important to be thinking ‘like-to-like’ when building a multigenerational team. Teaming with an advisor of the same age might have other advantages, but it doesn’t address the issue of next gen planning. Think in terms of someone who can connect with and develop relationships with the children of your older affluent clients.
  • Expertise – This usually involves the next-gen advisor developing a complementary skill set to that of the senior advisor. For instance, many veteran advisors have strong skills pertaining to investments, but haven’t really gotten involved with financial planning. A young advisor with a CFP can handle the planning for affluent clients. This also gets the next gen advisor involved with the family and their children.
  • Team Responsibilities – This should involve age, skill set, and interests. For example, one team leader manages the relationships of his top 50 clients and acts as the primary rainmaker. His junior advisor is responsible for managing the rest of his clients, developing relationships with the children of his affluent clients, and marketing the team in next gen affluent circles. He is also developing relationships with young CPAs, attorneys, and other professionals. He is also responsible for the team’s social media presence, such as LinkedIn branding, connections, etc. 
  • Team Succession Plan – Advisors are always talking about taking care of their clients. But without a succession plan, this isn’t really workable. Questions by clients such as, “When are you going to retire?” or “Who’s going to handle our affairs if anything happens to you?” are obvious signals that clients want continuity.

This type of foresight protects you, your next-gen advisor, your support personnel, and your clients. Granted, a next-gen advisor has to earn his or her way as a worthy successor, but that’s common sense. All of this requires work, but it is well worth the effort.