This is how you protect the Business that you have built over the last several decades.
Ajay Narvekar, now 65, has built his solo firm over the last 25 years with around 100 Crore of Assets. He had attended our 2-day Bootcamp and had loved our process. He was in the midst of evaluating a potential partner as his succession plan. He met my colleague Rupesh and was very excited about joining our program (for people who have no succession in place and want to ensure that their clients are well taken care of while ensuring a regular pay-out for them). Ajay told him “I just have to speak with my partner Sanjay (till that point we thought Ajay was a Solo practitioner) and will get him to meet you and take our discussion forward.”
3 months had passed and there was no news from Ajay despite Rupesh trying to reach him. One fine day, Rupesh managed to speak with him and understood the real concerns. Ajay told him candidly “Look, I have loved it, but Sanjay said we still have time and we will do it later”. Ajay had met Sanjay a couple of years back and thought he would be the person to take care of his clients in a phased manner. Like I have written earlier, “Later is often never or till you are forced to decide by an event or situation.”
Last week, Rupesh got 3 frantic calls from Ajay saying that we must talk and carry our conversation forward. Rupesh probed further to figure out what was happening. Ajay told him “My AUM is falling, clients are panicking, and I am having to handle them. I thought there would be a correction, the markets will be fine, and I will hang my boots or hand over my clients in 1-2 years. Looks like I should have done it now.” He went on to add “I don’t know what I was thinking and why I delayed taking a decision. I feel if I do not do something now, I will lose 50% of my business, 50% of the value that I have built over so many years just goes like this. Additionally, this is not how I had thought it would be. I am stressed and need your guidance.”
This is a typical situation that most distributors and advisors in the age group of 60+ face. I mean that they are looking for a succession plan and are confused about what to do. This leads to decision paralysis and a delay in taking critical decisions. Some think that their son, daughter, son in law, daughter in law or friend would take over. On top of that, there are some outfits proposing to take their business 5 X and some making outright false promises.
There is a need to think about this in a structured way. A few questions to ask yourself and reflect.
- What do I really hope to accomplish from this and What is my most important priority?
For most, the key is that their clients should be well taken care of even in their absence. Their clients are family that they have cherished over so many years. One of the other key priorities should be to Protect what you have done over the last so many years.
- What is the cost of inaction here?
Generally, people think that they have time and they can take their own sweet time till some event shakes them up and makes them think. Inaction is extremely expensive and is costing Ajay 50% of his revenues, 4 times more stress, anxiety and the need to have difficult conversations with clients. In Ajay’s case, he was happy not adding a single client but now he regrets not acting fast enough.
- What are the risks that I am taking here?
A lot of risks some of them are given in the point above. A lot of advisors feel, I only can handle this client. Nothing can be further from the truth and this is one of the limiting beliefs that you have. Instead ask yourself “How can I deliver a Wow experience to all my clients starting today? Who can I partner with, so I am able to do all of this without making any upfront investments?”
- What would happen to my clients should something happen to me today?
They will be taken over by someone if there is no clear succession plan or you have not partnered with someone who can make a real difference in your client’s life and your life.
When Ajay thought through these questions, his answers gave him the direction to explore the discussion he had with Rupesh further (Just in case you were curious, yes, he did sign up with us).
The ability to take a decision thoughtfully and quickly (this is key) is a key skill that successful leaders have. The only capital that we do not have in plenty is Time and thus it becomes important to focus on what is important and JUST DO IT…
Here are some steps for you to do:
- This is a very critical decision so ensure there is chemistry between you and the firm that you plan to partner with.
- Understand their philosophy and why they do what they do. What are they in this for?
- Take them for a Test Drive as quickly as possible. Do 2 meetings with your existing clients and you will figure out if this is headed in the right direction.