Between guiding clients through the current surge in market volatility, shifting to a work-from-home model and preparing to meet the looming Reg BI implementation deadline, it’s no exaggeration to say that this may be the most challenging time you’ve ever faced as an advisor.
It’s no surprise, therefore, that double-checking and firming up your continuity plan is something you may have allowed to fall by the wayside — even as there is an increased likelihood that businesses across the industry could suffer a disruption.
Pressed for time, some of you may hope your existing plan is adequate, while believing you’ll make the necessary updates when the current situation settles down a bit.
However, this issue is too important to let slide. Here are some simple continuity best practices to act on immediately:
1. Run an inventory of your documents.
Keep in mind, these forms aren’t just an outline of your plan — they are also a mechanism to compel members of your team and key third parties to carry out their responsibilities to keep the business running.
Without these documents in place, not only are clients at risk of losing access to financial guidance, but your beneficiaries, family members and employees could suffer severe consequences as well.
It’s best to go with a basic, easy-to-follow plan that clearly outlines expectations. The last thing you want in an emergency is an extra layer of complexity.
Above all, keep a signed copy in an easily accessible location and make sure your broker-dealer also has one for back up.
2. Keep key details in mind.
Every plan needs to address certain key elements, including taxes, term and structure.
Continuity plans should be structured differently than full succession plans, where an advisor and successor presumably have a longer runway to choreograph a smooth transition.
In a continuity scenario, the emphasis must be on speed of implementation, and the terms and structure of the agreement must reflect this.