Picture this — you're on a boat. The boat is sinking and you're trying to plug the leaks, but new holes keep popping up. At this point, you don't know whether you'll sink or float.
This situation may sound all too familiar to advisers. When your firm grows and you have clients with various needs, you're trying to plug the leaks by finding more staff to address the concerns of your clients. You may feel as if you're sinking at first, but luckily, there is a way to stay afloat long term — intentional hiring and teaming.
Intentional teaming is multifaceted. It involves identifying employees who can support (and continue) your current business and those who can carry it into the future through careful succession planning.
Top talent to fit your needs
When you hire new talent, recruit individuals whose skill sets align with your firm's needs. Do you need someone who excels in financial planning? Or maybe a business development specialist? Identify your practice's needs to fill in gaps so that your business can continue to flourish down the road.
If you are unsure, your branch manager or an industry coach can be an excellent resource. These experts can help you to identify where you are currently, where you want to go, and who can help you get there.
They can also communicate your needs to a recruiter, who can hire qualified professionals to plug those leaks.
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Sell or develop succession plans in-house
The hot topic today is succession planning. In other words, who is going to take over for you when you retire? What if something unexpected occurs and you can no longer run your business?
It's easy to envision your practice continuing on the way you currently manage. However, for this to occur, you must take steps to ensure a smooth transition.
The benefit of a sale to an established business is that you know you clients will be taken care of by an adviser who has proved adept at running a business. You can also expect that new owner to bring in their own client management, investment and planning styles, which could change the way business is conducted altogether.
Developing internal succession plans allows you to teach the person next in line exactly how you expect your practice to continue. However, you must consider whether or not that next-generation owner is ready to step up and continue to grow and develop the business.
Whether it's finding someone new and showing them the ropes or selling your practice to someone outside your firm, you must decide what is right for you.
Develop your successor
If you intend for business to continue as usual, you must mentor and develop your successor, which can take time. Consider how soon you plan to retire. Bear in mind that it takes three to seven years to successfully prepare someone to take over your business.
Being intentional allows your practice to continue in the way that you built it as someone is trained to step in when the time comes. Identify key components of your practice that you hope to continue and communicate them with your successor. Understand how your needs align with your successor's management style, strategy and financial philosophy.
Think in terms of what you might say to a client who is 10 years out from retirement. Would you recommend they ignore their looming retirement? No, you would make sure they are on track.
It's the same thing with succession planning. Hold yourself to the same standard, and ensure your practice is ready to flourish with or without you.
Intentional teaming can set the direction and tone for your business, now and for years to come.
Matthew "Matt" Ransom is vice president of new financial advisor development at Raymond James.