It’s in advisors’ best interests to put a catastrophic succession plan in place, said Scott Curtis, president Raymond James Financial Services, the firm's independent arm. And the firm is making this a priority for those dragging their feet, with over 50 percent of branch managers already taking steps.  

"Liken it to a will for your clients. Something tragic happens. What would happen to your practice?" Curtis asked attendees of the firm’s annual conference in Washington, D.C. Tuesday. Currently, 52 percent of Raymond James branch owners already put a plan in place, up from 41 percent of owners who had a plan at the end of 2012. 

Additionally, 82 percent of the more than 50 top advisors at the firm in the Chairman’s Council, have taken the time to put succession plans in place. 

But for the 48 percent of the firms' branch owners without a catastrophic succession plan, regulations prohibit the firm from paying commissions and fees to non-licensed beneficiaries, Curtis says. "So for your families, for your surviving spouses, if you're in that 48 percent, please also make that a takeaway."

Yet even with just under half of its branch owners without succession plans in place, Raymond James is ahead of the curve. An estimated 36 percent of the roughly 50,000 solo practitioners in the industry admit they do not have any actionable, documented business continuity strategy in case of unplanned events, according to an October survey of single-advisor practices conducted by REP. magazine.