The 3-Year Challenge: Is your firm still right for you?

Mindy Diamond - financial advisors

September 12, 2017
By Mindy Diamond

9 criteria that will help you to gauge whether or not you should consider a change

With an industry landscape that offers more choice and opportunity than ever before, advisors have little excuse to be living anything but their best business lives. Yet day-to-day relationship management and investment decisions take priority, so few rarely stop and take a close look at whether or not where they are is still serving their clients and business best—especially if they are not all that unhappy.

Put another way, advisors should make it a priority to stop and ask themselves this all-important question: “If I were searching for a new opportunity now, would I still choose my firm and model?”

Keep in mind that the answer to this question isn’t always a simple yes or no. First, there needs to be a basis for how you define what makes a firm or model still “right” for you and your clients. That basis lies within the answers to these 9 questions:

  1. Do you feel you are getting enough value for what you pay for?
  2. To what extent do you rely upon the support your firm provides, and is that support robust enough?
  3. What restrictions and limitations have been placed upon you and to what extent do they impact your ability to get “it” done?
  4. Does your firm’s brand help or hurt you?
  5. Is the advisor community still right for you?
  6. Do you feel there is the right amount of compliance oversight? Too much or too little?
  7. Have you outgrown the model? Do you feel as though being an employee or under an IBD umbrella limits you in any way?
  8. Will your firm’s succession planning support allow you to get where you want to go?
  9. Does your firm have the scale to continue to invest and innovate with respect to technology, platform, thought leadership, etc.?

The notion of challenging your firm to continually prove that it remains the best choice for you and your business is the very definition of what being a fiduciary is all about. We believe that all things being equal, everyone should go through this exercise at minimum every 3 years – regardless of how content you are at that point – to prove that where you are is still where you belong.

The “3-year” cycle is not a hard and fast one; we know of some advisors who go through this exercise annually as part of their regular business planning practices. The reality is that every 36-months or so, most firms and the industry landscape as a whole will evolve “substantially enough” to ultimately impact your business. Gauging that impact is critical to ensuring your ongoing growth and overall satisfaction.

Keep in mind that this does not have to be a time-consuming process. There isn’t necessarily any need to take meetings with other firms or expend energy beyond rigorous honesty and self-awareness to ensure that you take the time to consider each answer thoughtfully. And it’s not just about qualifying your “happiness” level, nor is it even done with the consideration of making a move. The 3-year challenge is intended solely to ensure that as the advisory world evolves – and indeed, we’ve seen more change in the past few years than ever before – you and your business are best positioned to reach your fullest potential.

So don’t wait until you’re unhappy, or things get so frustrating or difficult that you are making decisions out of haste. Carry out this thoughtful process on a regular basis. Better yet, why not start today?