Succession planning is on a lot of advisors' minds right now. But it's not only owners who need to prepare for succession — employees also need to get ready. Financial Planning talked to Deena Katz, president of Evensky & Katz and associate professor of personal financial planning at Texas Tech, about her thoughts on this topic.

Q. How do you prepare to be a successor?

A. Figure out what your career path is where you're working now. Are you working at a firm that has a defined career path with a possibility for you to become involved in management and has potential partnership opportunities? If the path is not that clear, make an appointment with your employer and ask about advancement opportunities.

·Assuming you are in the right place, set goals with your employer. List the responsibilities you will need to accept and perform well before you can move on to the next step. Be sure these are time-specific.

·Ask your firm owner what his personal plans are. Some advisors are just looking for an exit strategy (someone to purchase them), but many want to hand over management and still remain a vital part of the firm. Your best bet may be to suggest that you help with certain aspects of management — for example, managing some staff activities or working on some strategic planning.

·Be a leader. Listen to others around you. Act fairly and ethically at all times. Ask for help when you need it and offer to help others when they do, even if they don't ask.

·Employ your best critical thinking. Demonstrate to your employer that you are a good problem solver.

·Bring new clients to the firm (even if this is not part of your job responsibilities). Show that you know that growth is important to the survival of the firm.

·Be active in your community. You can start by taking an active role in your professional organizations.

·Expect to start early and stay late. Set aside a period of time each week to devote to your professional and personal growth. Read management books, articles and other materials on a regular basis and consider how you might use some of these tools in your work.

·As you begin to meet your short-term goals with your employer, ask for more responsibilities. Perhaps you can participate in the investment committee, volunteer to be research analyst for the committee, or take responsibility for researching and installing that new software the firm needs.

·What’s the silver lining in all this? If you are not in the right place, you will be well positioned and valuable to someone else who is looking for a next-generation partner.