There is no "i" in team, the old saying goes. (Nor in success or planner, for that matter.) Many smart, take-charge professionals like planners know that building a group of experts often best serves a client who's an entrepreneur. It's the opposite of groupthink - what I like to call teamthink. The highest-level expertise is what's called for, and there are few planners who can be all things to every client, especially a business owner who may have especially complex needs.
If a business flowers, being at the side of an entrepreneur can be an exciting and profitable experience. And while it will naturally feel extraordinary to watch a client potentially move from putting business expenses on a personal credit card to reporting sales of six figures, seven figures or far more, it's vitally important that advisors and clients be prepared with a cushion for the downside. The Digital Age is only the latest to teach us that a brilliant idea executed poorly, before its time or improved on by a competitor will likely crash and burn.
That's where a team approach, with a planner coordinating the other professionals, can make a crucial difference to a client whose net worth is tied up in a business. As Derek Holman, co-founder of EP Wealth Advisors in Torrance, Calif., tells us in our cover story (page 46), "Without that quarterback relationship, without somebody who is touching each advisor, the total planning starts to get compartmentalized. Sometimes our job isn't to have all the answers," Holman notes, "it's to circulate the ideas that are flowing."
FP Senior Editor Ann Marsh, who wrote the story, tells me that "it's remarkable to see the difference good planners can make in the strategic fortunes of small businesses. Whether it comes to finding new lines of credit, or investment bankers to help sell a firm or protecting assets against risk, the small business-oriented planner can make a huge impact. But doing this work well means a planner must be effective at tapping the expertise of a wide range of professionals."
Marsh writes about the methods of Rehmann Financial in Lansing, Mich., which has a 35-person investigative team that helps entrepreneurial clients investigate allegations of fraud, fight hacker attacks and do the hard work of forensic accounting. While you don't have to be a detective - or a psychologist, estate lawyer or geriatric specialist, for that matter - to work with small business clients, you do need to know when to hire one.