With many senior sole practitioner FAs reaching an age where retirement is becoming a consideration and many if not most firms offering a fixed term buyout of the practice if they “team up,” we have inadvertently sailed into the “perfect storm.” Navigating this transition may appear to be smooth sailing…but it’s not! You are attempting to transfer trust, affinity and loyalty from a financial advisor that has built those characteristics over a lifetime of interactions, to a financial advisor that the client has just recently met (and in many cases is significantly “Junior” to the retiring advisor).
I was speaking with a financial advisor who told me about an experience that in his mind was comparable to this transition. He said he had a longstanding support staff person that the clients loved, whom he had to terminate. He brought in a very talented replacement and while some of his clients expressed some dismay at the loss of his previous assistant they quickly transitioned and it was a nonevent. I said the two events are not even close to comparable. I told him to imagine a top flight surgeon that had worked with him over decades and seen him through some extraordinarily difficult situations, switching out his favorite staff person; would that have been a major event? He said of course not. I then told him to imagine that same top flight surgeon, announcing he was going to retire in the next four years and introducing his new partner who had two years left on his surgical residency. How comfortable would he be with that scenario? When the gravity of the transition crystallized, the financial advisor’s pallor took a turn for the worse. So what can be done to create a much more seamless transition?
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