(Dow Jones) With the more financial advisors reaching their late 50s or early 60s these days, planning for a firm's eventual sale is becoming an issue of growing importance.

Mark Schoenbeck, director of practice management for Genworth Financial Wealth Management, said in an interview this requires focusing on building a firm's transferable value. He singled out three main strategies to do this: outsourcing, creating systems and procedures, and focusing on key metrics of value.

The most successful advisors spend 60% or more of their time working with clients and prospects, he noted. And they achieve this by relying heavily on outside services.

"Advisors need to ask themselves what they do best, and what brings the most revenue and value into their businesses," says Schoenbeck. "The answer, almost all the time, is helping clients with financial problem-solving. Anything that isn't a client-facing activity is therefore a good candidate to be outsourced."

The top advisers typically contract others to handle investment management duties such as portfolio construction and rebalancing, back-office duties like performance reporting and billing, and compliance functions. As a result, they create more sustainable value than their peers.

"The more client-focused they can be, the more wallet share they will get, the better their client-retention rates will be, and the more referrals they will get--all of which are key financial drivers of a business that a buyer is going to look at closely," Schoenbeck said.

Potential buyers also want to see that it will be easy to come in and take over a practice with few hassles. So advisors need to have processes in place that make their firms run in a consistent, replicable way.

Schoenbeck suggests starting with common operational tasks, such as building and documenting procedures for opening and closing accounts. Once the day-to-day duties have been systematized, move on to business development processes and define regular steps taken to meet with prospects and centers of influence. Detail how often those meetings will occur, what they will consist of, and how follow-up will be handled.

Next, define and document the client service experience so that it's personal as well as consistent.

Staff must be trained to use these systems and procedures. "The idea is to create a business that is easy for the adviser to walk away from and easy for someone else pick up right where he left off," Schoenbeck says. "That's what will make a practice a business with real transferable value instead of simply a job that is entirely dependent on the owner and therefore less valuable."

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