United Planners Financial Services is taking a giant leap forward in succession planning—literally.
The one-year anniversary of its Legacy, Exit and Acquisition Planning Strategies (LEAPS) initiative is rapidly approaching, although it’s informally existed for far longer, says Sheila Cuffari-Agasi.
“About four years ago I heard from an advisor in a remote area in the South,” Cuffari-Agasi, vice president of partner development for the Scottsdale, Ariz.-based firm, explains. “He said he loved everything we do, but he was looking to move to another firm for succession planning purposes because that firm had other reps in the area and we did not.”
She took it as a wake-up call to put a formal package in place to ensure United Planners didn’t “bleed advisors” to larger firms.
“It’s geared towards the seller,” she adds. “It focused on finding their ideal candidate, if they don’t have one already.”
If the firm is able to match one United Planners’ rep with another, there is no cost. Beyond that, the program consists of a silver, gold and platinum level, as well as a la carte, and varies by how many drip campaigns are needed, how much coaching is needed, whether a succession plan is drafted, among other items. It’s backed by Succession Resource Group, which United Planners retains to perform valuations, business continuity plans and succession plans.
“Too many advisors still run their firms as a practice, rather than a business,” Cuffari-Agasi notes. She offers the following tips for advisor to consider when beginning the succession planning process.
1) Decide whether you’re looking for a long-term succession plan, a short-term continuity plan (defined as death/disability plan) or both.