Focus Financial Partners LLC today formally launched a financial advisory succession program that helps retiring advisors transition their businesses and clients to a Focus firm.

"Succession basically means that you've built up your firm for many years and you're reaching the age where you're saying it is time for me to retire or do something else," says Rudy Adolf, founder and CEO of New York-based Focus Financial Partners. "Basically, a firm's owners will come to us and say 'Look, we don't have a succession planning solution today, and our clients' are asking us what will happen,'" he says.

A  partnership of independent, fiduciary wealth management firms, Focus Financial has more than $52 billion in assets and more than 775 employees, including 100 partners.

Under the Focus program, an advisor who wants to retire continues to work with his clients while simultaneously working with members of a partner firm, selected by Focus, during the transition. Focus matches an RIA with a Focus partner with a similar business model, service philosophy and investment approach. The transition can move forward whenever an advisor chooses. With a succession plan in place, an advisor who plans to retire can assure clients they'll continue to receive financial advice after he leaves the business.

Adolf say only about 25 percent of small to medium RIA firms have a formal succession plan in place. "The financial advisor industry has a gigantic industry succession planning challenge," says Adolf. "In reality, there are $50 million, $200 million, sometimes even $300 million firms that with no plan can essentially disappear."

So far, Focus' Succession Solution program has been used for one transition: between CLM Capital Management LLC, a Sanford, Maine-based RIA with more than $35 million in client assets, and Focus partner firm Buckingham Asset Management.

"Focus' Succession Solution enables us to help firms like CLM establish a formal continuity solution where they might otherwise struggle to do so," said Adam Birenbaum, CEO of Buckingham, in a statement.

Focus' succession program includes:

1. An evaluation of how ready an advisor is to transition his business.

2. An agreement with a Focus partner firm to manage the business going forward once the firm's principals start the succession.

3. An annual certification program to ensure that advisors keep their transition plan active and updated.

4. Access to Focus' capital to finance the transition under agreed-upon terms.

-Jim McConville