Something I see a lot in my work is a growing tension between firm founders, senior shareholders and their successors. Feelings range from disappointment to frustration—on all sides. These feelings are not surprising.
Last year the Financial Planning Association published the results of their independent RIA survey that revealed 73% of RIAs had no succession plan. In addition, 96% of team members felt at risk given the lack of transparency regarding plans for succession.
Put another way, no one is communicating. As a result, unspoken assumptions and expectations are quietly running the show.
What do I mean by this?
Worry, uncertainty, anxiety, frustration, impatience, and doubt are common feelings bubbling beneath the surface that are spilling into your firm’s culture. These feelings directly impact every single person—their level of engagement and commitment to the success of the company. The ripple effect can be so damaging that people quietly explore other opportunities or, perhaps worse, talk amongst themselves pumping up the negative feelings.
How can you grow as a company, enjoy the journey and create a wonderful legacy if all of this is bubbling below the surface waiting to blow up?
If you’re aware that this is happening or, concerned that it might be, here’s what you need to know.
Your legacy is at stake
Not surprising, shareholders often have high aspirations for reaping financial rewards as they exit the businesses they’ve built over many years. The potential for a great reward is a huge draw as they started out on their entrepreneurial journey.
Yet, for so many, it’s also their life’s work.
They have invested their hearts, minds and financial resources into their business, the families they serve and the community they live in. There was often a real sacrifice in the early years.
For these heart-centered professionals, relationships matter. Legacy matters.
Planning for your legacy—your succession—in whatever form you desire requires:
✔ Commitment to prioritizing the necessary time
✔ A clear vision for mutual success.
✔ Candid and caring communication
If legacy matters to you, yet you don’t have a plan in place, are you setting yourself up for disappointment or worse?
The formula for disappointment
The common theme I hear revolves around the lack of or inadequacy of communication. Put another way, leaders are not having the conversations that matter with the people who matter within the business.
What’s surprising, is how sure all parties are that they are not the problem. I hear all kinds of stories about who and how “they” are.
Perspectives become entrenched as shareholders, leaders AND successors grip tightly to the assumptions and expectations they hold regarding the other. It’s precisely this gap between UNSPOKEN expectations and reality that causes feelings of disappointment.
Those feelings, unchecked, sour relationships, firm culture, and
, eventually, the potential for a successful succession.
I’ve created a better formula: The Succession Success Formula.
This formula produces a “triple win” plan for succession:
A win for shareholders.
A win for successors.
A win for clients.
Does legacy matter to you? If yes, the time is now to start.
I’d love to hear your story.