Some Advisors have found that bringing family members into the business-whether as the result of a plan or by accident-has its advantages.
Before starting Hammel Financial Advisory Group LLC in Nashville, Tenn., 20 years ago, Dick Hammel ran a small chain of auto parts stores with his brother. After he sold that company, he figured his family business days were over.
While he did harbor thoughts of working with his only child, Melissa, he saw little chance of it happening. She was, after all, a communications major in college and worked as a staff manager for Weight Watchers in Kentucky.
Even after a turn of events in 1996 that saw "Missie," as he calls her, quit her job and fill-in for his departed office manager, Dick Hammel still didn't see her stay as permanent. "It was the sort of thing where she wanted to help me out," he recalls. "She really didn't have an idea of making it a permanent thing."
That's what he thought, anyway. His daughter, however, had an inkling she might stay a while. And stay she did, in the process getting a CFP certification and becoming managing partner of the business. Melissa now handles much of the day-to-day operations, while Dick focuses on investing and meeting with clients.
Looking back, Melissa says, her communications major wasn't far removed from the financial advisory business after all. "Now that I'm in it, it's a natural fit because it's a people-oriented business," she says. "This was a natural, unplanned thing."
Both Hammels agree, as would many members of family run advisory businesses, that a family businesses doesn't have to be carefully planned from the start to be a success. They may be conceived through a whim, a sudden change of heart, a confluence of circumstances or even a lunchtime conversation.
If the family structure works, they also agree on the potential rewards. Many talk of a sense of trust that's impossible to attain in a typical workplace. Or of an increased sense of mission. Members of successful family businesses also seem to be unanimous in their belief that it strengthens bonds with clients, who typically are relieved to know the succession plans of their advisors are grounded in blood relationships.
"I'm 66, and when new clients come through the door, one of the first things they'll ask me is, 'Who's going to take your place?'" Dick says.
The Numbers Thing
Melissa Hammel was 30 years old by the time she took a job with her father. Why didn't she hook up with him sooner? Part of it was just happenstance. But there was also another problem: numbers.