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.
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.
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.
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.
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.