The Undercurrents in Your Plans for Succession

The Undercurrents in Your Plans for Succession

Is succession planning top of mind for you now as the “Pandemic Pause” trudges on in what is an unprecedented year?

A lot of firm founders and senior shareholders are now finding themselves with conflicted feelings and more questions than answers about their strategic plans for succession.

If you too have questions running on repeat in your mind, it’s time to take a closer look at the strongest undercurrent that may be silently at work in your business: Uncertainty.

This is not new with the onset of the global pandemic.  Before the pandemic, multiple industry surveys revealed the large percentage of firm shareholders with no real plans for succession and, team members feeling a level of anxiety about the firm’s future and their part in it.

Uncertainty is such a powerful undercurrent in the culture of many independent investment advisor firms that it can be an obstacle to successfully planning for and navigating the challenges inherent with preparing for change.  I see this undercurrent impacting firms in two key areas.

1. Uncertainty reveals fragility of relationships

Those same surveys referenced above also reflected what I have learned from hundreds of conversations with “NexGen” professionals—there is a lack of candid, caring and transparent communication about strategic plans including plans for succession.  Not surprising, this results in uncertainty and all the feelings that come with it including distrust.

In my work, I’ve discovered that uncertainty is the threshold between trust and distrust.  As stated by Stephen Covey, trust is, “the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Trust is only possible when there is candid, transparent communication and a value placed on relationships.

Trust requires an investment of time and care.  “Know, like and trust” must be cultivated with the people who matter most for success today and succession in the future.  During this time when many teams continue working remotely this requires intention and attention!


Questions to ask yourself:

  • Are unspoken assumptions and expectations adding to the undercurrent of uncertainty on our team? With my partners?
  • Do I need to create an intentional practice for cultivating connection and rapport? If yes, where can I start?

Imagine, the impact on you and your plans for the future when your successors and team members are engaged, committed and fully bought in!

2. Uncertainty reveals the fragility (or absence) of strategic plans for succession

Not too surprising, the pandemic has prompted many founders and shareholders to reconsider their hopes and dreams for their business and their own retirement.  The illusion of certainty they had long relied on was a bubble that burst in a matter of weeks.

For those who were comfortably on cruise control, it forced an abrupt awareness of the need to “work on the business”.   Even if strategic plans were in place, the “new” reality required an urgent scramble in response to rapidly evolving news while ensuring clients were cared for and team members set up for remote work.

Others have woken up to the realization that as “pandemic time” trudges on, their feelings have changed A LOT about their personal timelines relative to succession and what they want at this stage of their life. Uncertainty feeds a level of anxiety and sense of urgency, yet it feels daunting to just start somewhere with the most basic of plans.

A place to start

There is a silver lining in all of this: Owners and shareholders waking up to feelings of urgency relative to their future.  They recognize the importance of investing time and energy to intentionally focus on planning and team engagement.

Successful succession starts with leaders who are personally ready. What this means is unique to each person. What I know to be true: it requires an investment of time and energy into self- reflection and a strong desire to engage with your team to create buy-in for what’s possible. Success today and succession success in the future requires strong internal relationships, a shared vision of mutual success and an actionable plan.


Is this the right time for you to explore the undercurrents in your business?

I can help so that, you too, have a clear path forward: a success plan for today and a succession plan for tomorrow.  Schedule a call!

Click here to download our complimentary report- “5 Questions Business Owners Never Ask and Should, to Create a Succession Plan that Works ”