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Go team?


For some financial advisors, it’s ok to be a loner. After all, it takes a lot of hard work to build trusted relationships and a solid book of business, and many advisors don’t want to jeopardize their success by relying on others. That’s understandable, but there are also valid reasons to consider transitioning to a team-based approach.

Consider this: according to a CFP Board of Standards survey, 70% of investor respondents would prefer to work with a financial advisor who pro­vides an array of comprehensive financial planning services, as opposed to a single advisor who specializes in one area, such as retirement. Many investors feel that it is in their best interest to receive integrated advice from an ensemble, and that should be reason enough for advisors to consider employing a team approach.

There are other potential benefits. Improved efficiency, income potential, an open exchange of ideas, staying abreast of new products and industry trends, and an opportunity to provide more holistic advice can all be facilitated by a team approach.

These benefits are not limited to newbie advisors. Established pros also might be reinvigorated by a team approach, not to mention the potential for better work-life balance and succession planning.

If you endeavor to adopt an ensemble approach, here are six factors to consider:

Work ethic: Successful teams require compatibility, vision, integrity and commitment. You should have full faith and trust in your business partners, and you need to respect each other’s work ethic. It might be beneficial to partner for a one-year trial period before making a long-term commitment.

Work style: Blending individual, entrepreneurial personalities into a collaborative model can be tricky. Chemistry and fit may be intangibles, but they cannot be ignored. Focus on finding a culture fit, rather than the perfect résumé.

Shared goals: You and your partners should be on the same page when it comes to goals and responsibilities. By forming a team, is your primary motivator to grow revenue or to improve your quality of life? Make sure each partner agrees on the firm’s annual team goals and the responsibilities in achieving those.

Compensation: Agree to a bonus structure for all support personnel. Strongly incentivize all team members on the growth of the practice so that they are personally invested in its success. Recognize that compensation for junior advisors may need to evolve over time as more of their time is spent prospecting and managing their own book of business.

Balance: Hire people who complement your weaknesses and encourage you to think—and problem solve—differently. But make sure you share a positive attitude and a focus on putting client needs first.

Culture: Define your culture from the onset. What are your core values? What does your client service model look like? How will you measure success? You need to be able to answer these questions before you recruit new team members.