The coronavirus disruption pushed my firm to take a bold step

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I remember coming home from an industry event a few years ago and recounting how — literally — all the advisors from the Northeast I spoke to talked about three things: a desire to spend part or all of the year in Florida, to learn more about the independent space and to beef up their succession planning. We know that these options only loom larger — and can seem more impossible to attain — as we approach the end of our careers.

Like most everyone in our industry, the coronavirus pandemic caused my partners and myself to take a long look at our business — to reevaluate. Taking stock, we saw that COVID-19 had changed our practice in a way that felt similar to profound personal life changes in our lives like moving from college to work or from parenthood to an empty nest.

The coronavirus spotlighted the fact that, while personal relationships will always be the cornerstone of what we do as advisors, that the frequency of in-person meetings had likely changed forever and that our wealth management practice could be done successfully from a remote environment. Many months prior to the coronavirus my partners and I had made a decision to leave the wirehouse world for independence and were fully engaged in that process. When the severity of the pandemic became evident, we paused to consider whether we were making the right move. I have been asked many times since how we could make such a move in the middle of a global crisis. What we realized after much contemplation was that the reasons for our going independent didn't change because of the virus, they actually became more pronounced.

Better, more adaptive technology, an ability to make decisions on a local level closer to the relationships with clients and freedom to market and grow our business in the direction we choose were just a few. So after 30 years in the wirehouse world we left and started our own RIA in June.

It wasn’t an easy decision. The stress of the effects of the coronavirus certainly made us ask, “Is this the right thing to do?” and “Is this the right time to do it?” But the more we leaned into the reasons for the change, the more we came to the conclusion that, YES, this was the right answer.

I have been asked many times since how we could make such a move in the middle of a global crisis.

Indeed, rather than cutting ties with our wirehouse and starting our own firm just one option, the coronavirus pandemic made it the only option.

Now, with that life-changing experience under our belts, I want to make a shout-out to all advisors: Despite, or perhaps even because of the hardship the coronavirus pandemic has caused us all, this should be a time of reflection and re-evaluation; a realization that where we live, work and play are all choices.

It’s a time to look in the mirror and ask: Is it time to make a change? Do I need to stay at my current firm? Do I need to live and work in my current community or, since my business is remote, can I consider moving my practice to another location?

Matt Kilgroe, financial advisor and CEO of Cyndeo Wealth Partners
The coronavirus made cutting ties with our wirehouse the only path forward, writes Matt Kilgroe.

So start asking yourself: Where do I want to work? Where do I want to live? And am I brave enough to change my life?

Having successfully handled a remote transition to the independent space during a pandemic and happily on the other side, I challenge you to reach out and grab the life you want. You may be surprised at how happy you can be.

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Coronavirus Succession planning Practice management RIAs Going independent Work from home