Teamwork is the new watchword for advisory practices.
Teams can offer clients greater expertise through specialization, as well as faster response times to questions. If one member of a team is unavailable, incapacitated or even deceased, other members can make sure clients’ needs are met.
Teams offer security and stability to firms, making growth easier as increased work flow can be spread out over a greater number of advisors, and a team structure can make it more difficult for single advisors to take clients with them when they exit.
Some surveys even suggest that advisors who work in teams find more career satisfaction than those who work independently.
Although larger firms would appear to have the staff and resources to best organize and benefit from teams, smaller firms -- and, yes, even solo practitioners -- can also take a page from the team playbook, advisors and consultants say.
“I’ve seen team strategies work in smaller firms and billion-and-a-half-dollar firms,” said Alan Moore, a CFP and co-founder of XY Planning Network.
“You may be a small firm, but your reach doesn’t have to be small,” said John Anderson, head of practice management solutions at SEI Advisor Network in Oaks, Pa.
Even in a solo practice, an advisor can form partnerships or relationships with other financial professionals to help clients.
“It’s easy to bring in strategic partners or people with complementary skills into your meetings to make it seem like a bigger firm,” Anderson said.
A solo practitioner might want to bring in a local CPA, estate planning attorney, insurance expert or investment managers, he said.
“Then I’m acting as a team whether they’re part of my firm or not,” Anderson said.
Such partners are also likely to bring referrals.
“They leverage off of each other,” Anderson said.
Going solo can feel very isolating, as Moore knows from the experience of striking out on his own in 2012. The way to combat the isolation is to join networks or associations or to form study groups.
That is the sort of structure that Moore creates among younger advisors in the industry.
By building a community, advisors who are on their own can interact with others and learn from their experience or find other people to help them.
“Advisors will ask, ‘Hey, I’ve never seen this kind of variable annuity before, what do I do with it?’ or ‘I need a referral to an accountant in New Jersey; anyone know anybody?’” Moore said.
He called it “choosing your own co-workers.”
Study groups can help advisors with similar practices focus more deeply on their areas of expertise.
“You build your own team, but they’re literally not on staff with you,” Moore said.
“Get four people who specialize in the same clientele, people who get along really well together to meet weekly in order to really focus and help each other,” he said. “I think that’s huge in order to ensure the success of your firm.”
Paul Hechinger is a contributing writer for On Wall Street.
This story is part of a 30-30 series on smart ways to grow your practice.