From the April 2013 issue of Research Magazine • Subscribe!

April 1, 2013

Succession Opportunity

Are you planning on dying in your office  staring at your Quotron? I hope not. Jack, a friend of mine thought he just might. He wasn’t sick or near death’s door, he just wanted to retire. For almost two years he had visions of umbrella drinks, white sandy beaches and cruising to Sturgis on his mid-life crisis. “I’ve been an advisor long enough. I’m ready for a change,” he told me.   

“Then why don’t you just do it?” I asked. “You shouldn’t have any trouble finding someone to buy your book and take over your office, right?”

It turns out Jack had been trying for some time to bring a young buck (or buckette) into his office to take over. On paper his office looked great. Jack had opened the office himself 30-plus years ago. During that time he turned it into the most lucrative part-time job you can imagine. In fact, his office had been a fantasy of mine for years.

You see, Jack’s office just happens to be about 10 minutes away from my family’s farm in picturesque rural Illinois. For about 25 years, I’ve been trying to find my way back there from the NYC area, where I’ve been a fish out of water on for the past quarter of a century. 

When word of Jack’s hopeful retirement spread throughout his company, he received calls from other brokers all over the country wanting to take over his office. It’s not that there are thousands of people like me, fantasizing about living in the middle of nowhere. It was more like the callers were fantasizing about making a ton more money than they currently were, with minimal effort.

There were many advisors that thought Jack’s office looked fantastic, until they visited. It takes a certain kind of person to live in a small isolated farm town, no matter how much money is on the line.

Jack laughed as he told me about one broker and his wife who came into town to meet with him. They had come from a suburb of Chicago excited about the possibility of moving up the pay scale. 

As Jack gave them the tour of the community (in about 10 minutes), the wife apparently turned into a deaf mute. The cause, I’m sure, had something to do with her imagining she would have to live there. Apparently, not everyone is as enamored with the fine cuisine of west central Illinois as I am. I mean, come on, who doesn’t love a deep fried breaded pork tenderloin sandwich? Please forgive me. I just salivated a bit on my keyboard. 

As tour after tour blew up on Jack, he started to worry that he would never be able to retire. He would have to work his two hours a day forever. Could someone please cue the violin music?

I saw Jack a couple of months ago and he told me he finally had a taker. Two takers in fact. Jack was going to be replaced by two brokers who obviously enjoy shopping at “The Walmart” and has a taste for anything fried (my people).

If you’re a boomer considering retirement, Jack’s advice is to start the planning process early. Don’t assume people will be lined up to pay you handsomely for your years of hard work. Oh, and one more important point, don’t serve your potential suitors any deep fried pork tenderloin sandwiches. 

Have you hugged your succession plan lately?

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