One of the cornerstones in running a successful RIA firm is to effectively transition your clients over time to other advisors. This is critical so that you can free yourself up to do the things you do best: run and build a firm, develop more business and acquire new clients, or some combination of those activities. It also is important to transition clients when an advisor leaves your firm, or to better balance the client load among advisors.
In my previous posting in my series of Succession Planning blogs, I discussed how you can identify and hire the right advisors as potential partners and successors. The next step in this process is to convince your clients that since you trust these new advisors, they should trust them as well. With their money. With their futures. It’s not a lot to ask, right?
Whether you choose internal advisors or hire from the outside, introducing a new advisor to your clients doesn’t have to be a deal breaker. You just need to take a thoughtful approach to ensure a smooth transition.
Introducing Clients to New Advisors
You’ve done much of the work already. You chose an advisor who fits into your firm and who shares the same philosophy about financial planning as you and your team. Now think about your clients. Who among them would benefit most from this new advisor’s expertise? Who would be a good personality fit?
If possible, start small by choosing a select group of clients who would react positively to a new face. Bring them to a client meeting, introducing them and highlighting their strengths that could benefit your clients—build them up! Then let the advisor speak briefly about his or her own background, and then speak to the client’s situation and concerns. This demonstrates understanding and helps immediately build the relationship between the new advisor and the client. Continuity and cohesion are critical to transition planning. Clients need familiarity while setting their expectations that change is good.
Managing the Handoff
The age-old wisdom bears appropriate fruit: Let go, but don’t let go of the client rope. Whether a junior partner or an outside hire, this advisor is simply new to your clients. Transitions should always take place in person, and since meetings with clients are spread out annually, bi-annually, quarterly, etc., you should expect the process to take some time (at least several meetings) to ensure success.