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Advisors in Transition

Top 10 Tips for a Bulletproof Transition — Part II

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Last week, I shared Part I of “Top 10 Tips to a Bulletproof Transition” for financial advisors contemplating moving their business.  While an undesirable step for many, conducting an effective transition is certainly attainable.  Yet some advisors are hesitant to pursue their evolving professional goals due to the interruption associated with a transition.

My mantra remains the same:  Don’t let this interruption deter you.  A thoughtful, well-calculated transition will likely yield benefits that endure for years!

To review:

1. Engage Lega/ / Compliance FIRST
2. Analyze Your Business
3. Compare Product & Services
4. Assemble a Transition Team
5. Develop a Coordinated Tranisition Plan

For more suggestions on how you can execute on a successful transition, I’ve highlighted the remaining Top 10 Tips below:

6. Develop your “Why”

  • The importance of being able to passionately and succinctly convey why you are making a change cannot be overstated.  Be genuine.  Itemize the benefits your clients will likely enjoy as a result of the transition before asking them to endure even the slightest inconvenience.  Engage their hearts as well by reminding them how significant they are to your business’ success and your desired goal.  You should develop benefit statements for all of your related audiences too, such as employees, COIs, prospects, strategic partners and vendors, etc.   This is an ideal opportunity to rally your entire supporting cast around your cause and endear yourself to them in the process.

7. Craft a Comprehensive Communication Plan

  • Once you’ve developed your messaging, explore how to best communicate it and when.  Be sure to consult with your legal/compliance provider.  Additionally, it may warrant hiring a marketing/PR firm to help you develop and execute on this aspect.  As you consider your audiences, you will need to decide how to best reach them:  a letter, an email, a post on your website or some combination.  Potentially your news could be shared via press release or in local/industry trade publications too.  All social media should be in synch as well.
  • In your communications, pay special attention to setting expectations and providing instructions.  You will probably have to ask your clients to take some action.  Ensure you have validated every aspect of the process.  (Perhaps simulate the experience?)  Convey all the steps in new account set-up and the mechanics of the account transfer process.  Explain the paperwork they will be asked to sign and what it accomplishes.  Don’t forget to address vital client matters such as access to funds and online portals, downtime with ATM cards and checks, interruptions with systematic withdrawals or contributions, or anticipated client travel.  Above all, do not guarantee perfection – it won’t be perfect.  Rather, emphasize your team’s thoughtful plan to execute on a transition with the greatest amount of expediency and least amount of inconvenience.  Reassure your clients that you have worked tirelessly to minimize surprises, yet should any occur, your team will swiftly resolve all client matters.

8. Execute a Flawless Resignation

  • As with every major undertaking in this process, you want to ensure the details of your resignation meet the legal/compliance litmus test.  You must understand what should be said/written when giving notice to your current firm, when in the process it should delivered, and what the immediate next steps are.  For some advisors, it will mean notifying their contra firm, filing forms and giving instructions to overnight client paperwork.  In other situations, advisors may have the luxury of 30 days or more to notify clients of an impending change once the current firm has been notified.  Regardless of when and how you resign, ensure it’s to the letter of your legal/compliance guidance.  And don’t assume anything.  Ask.

9. Establish and Synchronize Technology

  • Guidance around how to evaluate your technology needs is entirely another post.  Assuming you have selected your new technology, or have secured updated licensing agreements, you’ll want to ensure you understand when access to existing solutions will cease.  And as important, you’ll want to have new technology up and running on or before your start date.  The more common items will be phones, computers, new Website (or at least an updated landing page with new contact info), and Portfolio Accounting & Reporting and CRM systems, if applicable.  Predetermine what data should be converted to new solutions, if it can be, by whom, and when.  And absolutely confirm what data will not follow you – the most common being clients’ historical performance.

10. Celebrate Success

  • No matter how big or small a transition, it will require much investment from many people– both physical and emotional.  And in most cases, the extra work is in addition to the “day job.”  Show your appreciation by acknowledging a total team effort and a job well done.  Celebrate with a small token of gratitude such as a gift card or something grander like a bonus.  Include your Clients in the appreciation and send a thank you note with snapshots of your team in the new setting and highlight positive results and fun facts.  Or host an open house at your new office location and let them experience it for themselves.  Don’t miss an opportunity to thank them for their contributions and connect them to your mutual success.
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