As far as I know, I was the first person in this industry to come out in favor of teams and partnerships.
While I had the team concept nailed in 1985, the earliest writing I could find was a 1989 article, “Getting Ready for the 90s.” In it I wrote:
“As new markets and new technologies come on stream in the 1990s, you will have to build an organization. The $250,000 producer will survive as an entry-level position only. Advisors will come into the industry, move up to the $250,000 level, and either create an organization and move up, or be moved out.”
And: “There are two primary forms of organization to consider. Probably the most common is the advisor-directed organization, consisting of an advisor and support staff. The other organizational form is a partnership.”
What’s a Team?
Of course one hears a lot about “teams” today. I didn’t really use that term early on, but that was the concept of my “organization.”
In my dictionary, a team is “three or more people united by a common purpose, with defined roles and sharing a common knowledge base.”
While an advisor and one assistant is better than an advisor and no assistant, two people really do not make a team. Some writers think it takes four people to make a team. Someone else says five. I think you can have an effective team with three, although four is better.
The common practice in many firms of putting people on “teams” does not actually create teams. You can call a group of people a team. You can call them whatever you want. A group does not necessarily make a team.
What makes it a team is right in the definition I gave you. And it is this definition that can enable you to sort out team difficulties.
Team Case Study
Just before Thanksgiving, I had a long conversation with four advisors who had come together as a “team.” They knew they had a mess, which is why they appealed to the “team doctor” (that would be me) for help.
To sort out the mess that I found, I simply applied the definition of the team.
So where do you start? It really doesn’t matter. Pick one. Sort that one out and go to the next.
I started with the common purpose.
This was easy.
I asked, “What are you trying to accomplish”? There was no hesitation: “We want to get to $1 billion in assets under management.”
Caution: sometimes it can take hours to get everyone to agree on a common purpose. Just not this time.
Common Knowledge Base
The next thing I took up was the common knowledge base.
If people on the team don’t know and can’t find out what the other team members are doing, you do not have a team. You just have people doing stuff.
To create the orderly transfer of knowledge, the technology used today is the database. It must be constantly updated and then used.
My first prescription to this multi-advisor group was simply: Combine all separate databases into a single database. Give everyone on the team access to all records.
But it is obviously a waste of time unless there is knowledge flowing into the database.
So every member of the team commits to following “The Law.”
My justly famous law says: “Every contact with a client or prospect produces an updated record.” The primary management duty of the principals is: Enforce The Law.