With all of the hard work and responsibility that comes with operating a financial planning practice, advisors are focused more on the daily tasks they must complete just to ensure that the next day’s schedule does not become overloaded. Sometimes it seems that these small details are all we have time for in our practices.
While being task-oriented is certainly a necessary and important part of the business, it is critical that representatives also spend ample time exploring new business development strategies, evaluating their client service model and mapping out long-term goals.
Finding a balance between the strategic and tactical aspects of running your business is the essence of that elusive concept we call “practice management.” The term encompasses a number of topics, but all advisors must address 3 major issues to build a successful practice: managing compliance requirements; establishing a succession plan; and maintaining comprehensive knowledge of the industry.
Advisors shouldn’t be expected to face these significant challenges alone. An experienced broker-dealer partner can provide the high-touch support they need to ease the strain of running their practices, as well as provide strategies for achieving long-term goals. When you evaluate your broker-dealer relationship, you should consider how effectively it helps you address the 3 major practice management issues.
Today’s regulatory environment is moving so fast that it’s nearly impossible to keep pace with the changes. To give yourself a fighting chance, choose a broker-dealer that is forward-thinking in its evaluation and development of technology. Firms that can anticipate compliance changes and build applications that make it easier for advisors to navigate the regulatory landscape continue to separate themselves from the competition.
Ultimately, well-developed and properly used technology will enable advisors to realize considerable efficiencies in their practices. Furthermore, because the broker-dealer takes on the cost of building the technology as well as the cost of regular system upgrades and expansion initiatives, advisors can substantially reduce their compliance-related expenses.
Electronic signature (e-signature) technology is one example of a system enhancement that has made the lives of advisors much easier in recent years. We’re all familiar with the problems of a paper-laden business: forms that get lost, application pages that get separated, faxed copies of documents that are impossible to read, and file cabinets that are overflowing.
By creating a “paperless” environment that is fully integrated with the broker-dealer’s back office platform, e-signature allows advisors to spend more time attending to the needs of their clients, confident in the knowledge that their practices are in line with most current regulatory guidelines.
You may need to implement your succession plan unexpectedly, so it’s extremely important to know who will carry on your business if you are unable to do so, and that your clients will be taken care of. When preparing a succession or transition plan for your practice, it is best to seek a broker-dealer that can help guide the process. For example, a broker-dealer that partners with outside business succession planning specialists may have an edge over a less-experienced, in-house team that is experimenting with succession planning.