So, part of the "Why do this?" comes from my desire to accomplish more and different things. This inward-looking component of "why" is critically important for you to consider. A transition that enhances your ability to use your strengths, follow your passion or make a bigger impact is good. A transition as a result of an unplanned crisis or situation where you have no alternatives is not good.
The outward-looking component of why is larger. I want to have an impact on our industry and society. In doing so, clients, owners and employees must be better off for having made this change.
Better in my mind is not instantly happier for clients, much wealthier for owners or creating job security for employees. Rather, better means more challenges and opportunities for staff, more security for clients because of the deeper bench strength of the firm - and a bigger platform for me means advocating for positive changes in our industry. Having been blessed with a good deal of success, this transition is a chance to create long-lasting significance in the lives of others.
This can be a very scary part of your future to think about. Why? When I've asked top financial advisors what they want to do next after they reach some level of business success, the answers often get very cloudy. Many say that they really can't do anything else because they are inextricably tangled up in their own companies.
A few years ago I surveyed nearly 1,500 business owners about succession planning. One quarter - working as individuals and billion-dollar revenue firms - told me their succession plan was to die at their desks! Does this sound familiar?
There's a good chance you will live a longer and healthier life than your parents. You are in denial if you tell me you don't have time to think about your future, because you have the time and space to craft a compelling alternative to traditional retirement.
In any transition I'd participate in, I'd add professional mentor, large-scale business developer and global strategic thinker to my job description. I'd divest internal operations and direct client relationship management.
In short, I'd adjust my life portfolio, removing some assets and adding others. For more on that very important concept, I urge you to read Portfolio Life by David Corbett.
CREATE THE FUTURE
Your future and the transitions you'll inevitably face don't have to be all-or-nothing outcomes. You can actually start your transition years in advance. Don't let there be a point in your life when you are forced to say "Now what?"
Management expert Peter Drucker said, "The best way to predict the future is to create it." I say, "The best way to assure a successful transition is to see it, plan it and make it happen!"
Glenn G. Kautt, CFP, EA, AIFA, is a Financial Planning columnist and chairman of the Monitor Group in McLean, Va.