For some of the 7,000-plus financial advisors at the four firms comprising the Advisor Group—FSC Securities Corp., Royal Alliance, SagePoint Financial and Woodbury Financial—Todd Fulks has played a role in helping them transition their business. 

Fulks is Advisor Group’s senior vice president in charge of succession and acquisition, and since 2015 he has worked with advisors to develop and implement continuity plans to protect a practice and its assets in the event of the advisor/owner’s death or permanent disability. But sometimes the need for his services is not triggered by an unforeseen calamity; sometimes an advisor just wants to retire and does not have a successor.

Earlier this year, Randall Zacuto, founder of The Retirement Educators, was among the latter. His firm has been affiliated with Royal Alliance Associates since 2002, and it provides 403(b) retirement plan advice, insurance and tax management services. It manages $75 million in total client assets.

Thanks in large part to Fulks, Zacuto found his successors in Kevin Ryan and Derrigan Sheedy, who also do a substantial amount of 403(b) plan advisory work with teachers and other educators. 

Ryan and Sheedy, advisors based in Los Angeles, are part of NWF Advisory Group, which provides compliance oversight and operating and marketing support services. NWF Advisory Group is an independent financial advisor group with approximately $3.6 billion in total client assets. It's affiliated with Royal Alliance.

The acquisition enabled Zacuto to transition into retirement knowing his practice and its clients remain in good hands, and it positioned Ryan and Sheedy for growth as buyers of his firm.

For Fulks, the deal was like many others he was instrumental in negotiating.

“We work very hard to find the right match, and that’s the most important thing,” he said.

According to Fulks, most succession deals can easily fall apart for three reasons: the seller can’t find the perfect candidate; the deal is too hard to make; and/or the deal becomes too time consuming to close, particularly in cases when an advisor makes a sudden and unexpected exit from his or her practice.

To respond quickly to advisors’ succession needs, Fulks and his team developed a platform called For an annual subscription fee of $300 and no finder's fees, commissions or transaction costs, subscribers can buy, sell, merge or find a continuity partner with the expertise of Fulks and his team through the transition process.

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