Survival of the Happiest

Financial advisors are exceptionally talented at reaching out to clients and asking them how they feel. Unfortunately, we often forget to do the same with our teams. We did a quick survey of advisory firms and found that virtually every single firm had reached out to its clients with multiple letters and phone calls during the pandemic. But almost no CEO penned a letter to employees.

Saving Sick Succession Plans

The likely impact of the COVID-19 crisis is that many firms will abandon their already fragile internal succession plans and seek refuge in the safety of institutional buyers and larger organizations. Founders need to continue trying to save internal succession, even if it’s tempting to give up.

Speaking in a Storm

Communicating during times of crisis requires a very thoughtful approach and presents additional pressure and challenges on a leader to find the right words and the right tone of voice to deliver the bad news but still reassure both clients and team members.

Intrapreneurs and Entrepreneurs

A lot of younger professionals think a larger firm can’t give them the same experience they’d have going off the beaten path and founding firms on their own. But I want to reassure them: There are still many adventures to be had in our profession.

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Why People Pay Us to Tell Them What to Do

Clients hire trusted advisors because they have decisions to make that are too big and complicated to make on their own. There is nothing wrong with clients asking, “Why do I hire you, and how much do I pay?” Pricing is a critical decision, and the advisory industry has to be very mindful in determining its own way of pricing.

The Conundrum of Balancing Ownership and Contribution

One of the most difficult issues in managing an advisory firm is establishing a fair balance in rewarding those who own a firm and those who contribute to its growth. In the short term, equity and the work contribution don’t have to be aligned, but in the long term they probably should be.

How Much to Pay for a Client?

Many firms consider incentive compensation for business development. The carrots are there, but the bunnies don’t seem to be running. That warrants a discussion about whether the carrots work in the first place, and how bonuses ought to be structured.

Find Your Inner Bad Guy

Time and again I work with firm owners who are reluctant to be “the bad guy” and deliver the tough advice to their employees or mentees that they aren’t doing as well as they should be. If you want your colleagues to develop into successful professionals, you have the obligation as a mentor to help them recognize and fix their weaknesses.