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Advisors in Transition

Stack the deck in favor of your new RIA and Engage the ‘We’.


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About a year ago I received a phone call from a distressed woman. She told me that her husband planned to leave his brokerage firm to launch his own RIA and she had grave concerns. My knee-jerk reaction was “Don’t get in the middle of it.” As I listened to her explain why she felt the way she did, I quickly realized that she had not been privy to the education, guidance and analysis that her husband had gleaned in his discovery process. Understandably, she was uneasy and confused. There hadn’t been any “We” in his approach. Or mine.

As a result of this experience, I refined my standard operating procedure and admittedly, I now insist I “get in the middle of it.”  The Significant Other is too important to be overlooked in a business model change. Their ability to enhance or jeopardize the outcome is material. Refreshingly though, the fix is easy.  It’s called Engagement.

In collaboration with the financial advisor(s) I consult, we determine what information the Spouse will deem beneficial and when it will be communicated. To be clear, I’m not suggesting every advisor contemplating such a move ask his or her Partner for permission. And this isn’t a judgment on an advisor’s decision-making model.  Rather, it’s a strategic and thoughtful approach to include one’s Mate in the plan to pursue such an endeavor. Think of it as stacking the deck in favor of your new RIA’s success.

Looking to start that dialogue? Here are suggested guidelines:

  1. Articulate what you seek to accomplish and WHY.  At best it will engender mutual support, trust and encouragement. At worst, it’s a common ground from which you can operate, even if the other isn’t fully on board.
  2. Set expectations. Include your commitments to the new business. Discuss likely changes, even if temporary. Do have solutions for extra hours worked, cash flow interruptions, home office needs, etc.  Most importantly, explain your success measurements and time line. You are accountable.
  3. Ask for help. Perhaps you will need an additional set of hands for the many tasks in front of you? Maybe instead it’s for enlisting patience or re-emphasizing discipline and focus when it’s most necessary?  Whatever the need, it’s easier to ask if you’ve already paved the way.
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