We’ve all heard extensively about how the independent advisor population is aging, but there are still a large number of successful advisors out there looking to build their businesses through practice acquisitions. The industry, due to demographics, is seeing more and more advisors, after a long career of attracting a successful clientele and developing a recurring income stream, looking to monetize their practice while bringing in advisors that can continue to meet the needs of their clients long after they have retired.
Nevertheless, selling an advisory business is not just about looking to get the highest bidder. Selling to the wrong buyer can destroy a strong business quickly if the accounts decide to jump ship and take a lifetime of account building with them.
Finding the right fit in a successor, who will seamlessly mesh with the business that you’ve created, is critical for all parties concerned—for your clients, who want to transition to the most appropriate advisor; for the buyer, who wants to maintain and build the relationships he or she is acquiring; and for you, the seller, who wants not only to get a full price for your business, but also to leave a legacy of satisfied clients and their families, who will maintain their relationship with the practice into the future.
So first of all, where do you find those potential successors?
· Leverage your broker-dealer relationship. Traditionally, advisors have found successors within their broker-dealer network, and chances are your broker-dealer is well equipped to help you with a transition.
But in today’s world, advisors have begun to recognize the enhanced value inherent in the businesses they’ve created. These are not just accounts that you sell at a low multiple of their current income, but rather they are ongoing concerns with the potential to grow and build value for the future—and your broker-dealer should serve as a partner in helping you to realize the full value in that potential.
· Network locally with other advisors. Understandably, advisors see each other—especially advisors outside their network—as “the competition.” That often keeps advisors at a wary distance from one another. But that’s not always a constructive attitude, and it’s imperative to drop that stance if you want to build a network among advisors who may someday be interested in taking over your business. Just as you continue to focus on acquiring new clients, it’s not a bad idea to acquire friends among your fellow advisors, too, even those working with different broker-dealers.
· Communicate with your product wholesalers and partners. These solution providers are amazingly well connected to the range of advisors in your region and in your field. Using them as a conduit for reaching out to other advisors is a natural avenue of approach that many advisors ignore.