My June Investment Advisor column (The Six-Week Solution to Succession Planning) just came out last week, and even I’m surprised at the flood of e-mails I’ve received from young advisors looking for new advisory firms—at least that are serious both about training and about succession. Here’s part of one email that captures the general sentiment:
“I am a late-twenty something CFP who has been working at an RIA [firm] since I graduated from college. I am not entirely happy at the RIA firm I currently work for. I work in the financial planning department, but am looking to move into an investment manager role. I am not sure I am at a company that matches up with my long-term goals/objectives, and wanted to reach out to see if you could help steer me in the right direction.”
Well, I’ll try. As my column suggested, it’s often very difficult for newly hired advisors to get a handle on what plans (if any) their new firm has for their future. Much of that is usually the firm’s fault (and, as I wrote, firms that do have a clear plan for their young advisors have a huge advantage in both recruiting and retaining their staff advisors). Yet young advisors can take their own steps during the hiring process and once they’ve started a new job to encourage firms to think more clearly about their futures.
In my experience, we all tend to resist making plans in every area of our lives out of a fear of locking ourselves in and thus restricting our options. I think this stems from having the wrong idea about the value of a plan. Of course, none of us knows what the future holds with any reasonable degree of certainty, so any plan that purports to etch in stone what we are going to do two, three, five or more years in the future is just silly—and doomed to failure.
Yet I’ve found plans to be essential for business success, if you think about them in the right way. That is, that a plan is nothing more than our best guess today about where we want to go, so that we can make a decision about the next steps to take.