Inside the successor’s mind - FP Advance

Inside the successor’s mind

BY brett

Please Note: This will make more sense if you’ve read last week’s blog post, Letter To A New Generation.

Dear Owner,
Thanks so much for your letter. I really appreciated the time you’d taken to let me into how you are feeling. That means a lot. 
I thought I’d repay the courtesy with an insight into my headspace right now. I’m hoping it continues to build on our relationship, which I value highly. 
I don’t think it’s necessary to go through my career history, as much of it has been spent here being brainwashed by you (LOL). However, I did have some career experiences before I joined our current business and I saw enough of what you described to appreciate how challenging it must have been for you in the early days. Enough said. 

How it is

I’m really excited to be the person you have entrusted with the long-term future of the company you founded. The size of the responsibility isn’t lost on me, I assure you.

I understand the ‘shared pain’ approach to this deal. As you say, you have your whole retirement at risk, with no real option to recover if it goes badly, and I will lose the best 10 years of my career. Let’s call it even.

What I bring to the table is a deep, deep immersion in the culture you’ve created. As you alluded to, selling to a corporate buyer probably doesn’t provide the continuity of service and care that I can. So I feel totally comfortable accepting the discount to “best-price-ever-in-the-whole-Universe” that we might be comparing it to. I get to carry on your legacy for a fair price and you get to see your clients in the street 5 years hence and not have to cross the road with embarrassment at what’s happened to the service they receive.

I’m confident in my abilities, but not cocky. I realise that as a business owner, I’ve still got plenty to learn. However, as I’ve heard some speakers mention at conferences I’ve attended, how do I compare to you at a similar stage of your career? I’m thinking pretty favourably. In fact, I know I do because you’ve told me so on many occasions. 

I also know that I can only truly learn by making decisions and living the consequences. I’m not an idiot. I know the difference between taking a risk versus betting the future survival of the company. There’s no incentive for me to bet the company at all. So can you please stop worrying about it? 

You tell me you’re not worried, but if that’s true, why do you keep getting involved in relatively minor decisions? Whenever you do that, you undermine me to the rest of the team. They keep looking to you because, in effect, you are still calling the shots, yet you constantly talk about me being the boss now. It’s frustrating for me and confusing for the team.

I’m working hard on improving my business skills. I’ve got an amazing network of people to lean on if I have a question.

For example:

  • You
  • My industry peers within the PFS, CISI and NextGen Planners communities
  • Our industry consultant
  • Our compliance consultant
  • Our accountant

I’m not flying solo.

What I need from you

There are some decisions about the business that need to be made. I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know when I say they’ve been kicked down the road by you because you knew you were going. 

So when I take the bull by the horns and start making changes, I need you to get out of the way (respectfully). If our deal falls over tomorrow and I leave, you know deep in your heart you’d have to take these same decisions. 

You know the ones I mean:

  • Dealing with the smaller and legacy clients that no longer fit where we’re headed
  • Tweaking our investment proposition
  • Reinvesting in technology that will see us right for the next 5-10 years
  • Hiring some better quality people as successors or replacements for some of our existing team
  • Investing in some professional marketing support
  • Developing younger talent from scratch, to deepen the reserves bench across the board
  • Moving to new premises

If we want a business that’s well-positioned for the next decade or two, we’re going to have to invest, innovate and adapt to the competitive pressures of the future. Our competitors are not a bunch of 50-something old school IFAs; it’s Amazon, Google, Alibaba, and Facebook. 

The demographics that allowed you to handle the retirement planning for the baby-boomers are coming to an end. A successful business that lasts another 20 or 30 years has to be working to reinvent itself to serve future generations. That takes time, vision and investment. We can’t stand still and keep doing it like you always did it. 

You know this. It’s what made you successful all those years ago. I’m sure most advisers of your era weren’t doing what you did. They just banked the cash every month. You had the ability to see the future and to back yourself, even when it was hard. All I’m asking is for the opportunity to do the same. 

I love this business as much as you do. You’ve trained me for this moment. 

Let me get on with it, unhindered. 

The demographics that allowed you to handle the retirement planning for the baby-boomers are coming to an end.

What’s the next best thing to having me with you 24/7?  Signing up to my weekly blog is what!  I write about literally everything that affects the owners of financial planning firms. Do yourself a favour and sign up now.  We won’t hold you to it, you can leave at any time, although I don’t reckon you’ll want to.

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ABOUT BRETT DAVIDSON When you work with FP Advance you work with me, Brett Davidson, directly. My motto is ‘advise better, live better’ and I practice what I preach. I’m straight talking and get to the heart of an issue quickly. There’s no beating about the bush, just a focus on helping things improve. Ask my clients – what I teach works.