SUCCESSION IN PLACE BY 60 YEARS OLD
By Jerry Butler
I know this is going to piss off many. In my defense, I am in my late 60s also and still going strong (and not going anywhere) but that fact does not change my thesis.
Succession and exit planning are common topics these days. Many advisors in their late 60s, 70s and older are hanging in there. Many have adjusted their business model to a lifestyle business. Great cash flow and little overhead and things are easy now. YES – you’ve earned it. You worked your ass off for the first 10 – 20 years. You should be able to put your feet up and cash cheques. But ……….
I think formalizing your business in your late 50s – early 60s is better for you, for your clients and for the industry.
Do What You Love Doing
Most advisors love the role they play in their client’s lives. Most advisors hate paper work and compliance. There are many solutions to keep doing what you love and stop doing what you hate. Sell and Stay / Merge / Junior Associate / Partnership are a few. Monetize all or part of your business and keep working with your clients. Those opportunities are out there. Money in your pocket, good cash flow and an exit strategy when you are ready to move on. In fact, sometimes you can get all of those benefits by adjusting your business model.
Clients Want to Know
Clients are asking “what happens to me if something happens to you?” Formal succession planning and/or a definite exit strategy will become compulsory in the not too distant future. It already being legislated in some US states. Dealers, MGAs, Provincial Securities Commissions and manufacturers will soon demand you have something in place. They will use the argument clients want to know but just like the financial markets risk is in the unknown. Something happens to you without proper planning and mistakes are made and clients leave …. In a hurry usually. Your business is now not worth as much. Remember serious disability is a greater financial hardship than death.
The average advisor is in their 60s. Fewer advisors are entering the industry. Though it is not your fault changes are being made which make it harder to get started – we do owe the industry some pay it forward. Think about your business – you are not increasing the number of clients, your client’s kids have gone elsewhere, your business is becoming worth less as your clients age and start taking more money out than they are saving PLUS technology changes and paperwork are weighing you down.
Solution: Do what you love and sell what you hate!!
I hear it frequently “why sell my business for 3 x when I hang around for 3 years and still own business?” Obviously, a rhetorical statement. This is a common reply but it is clear most advisors are not taking home all their revenue. They have expenses, support staff etc. so three times is actually 4 or 5 years of income. PLUS as pointed out above; a succession plan does not have to mean riding off into the sunset. True your business does not sell for the same multiples as Microsoft but count yourself lucky – most small businesses have no buyers.
The bottom line is a properly designed formal succession plan and exit strategy is a win win win for you, your clients and your family.