The Juggling Act: Balancing Short-Term Needs and Long-Term Goals
September 25, 2018
By Barbara Herman
A process to help you identify and prioritize your immediate needs vs goals for the future when considering a move
Advisors constantly juggle between meeting the short-term demands of their businesses while working towards their longer-term goals. To complicate things further, short- and long-term views are frequently not aligned at a particular moment in time—creating a greater lack of clarity and frustration.
While it’s important for all advisors to check-in with themselves regularly to assess the balance between the two, it’s even more important for those considering a move. While the “perfect opportunity” would solve for all goals equally, it’s unrealistic to expect that perfection actually exists in one single option.
So how do you find the right opportunity when your goals are seemingly at odds? You start by breaking each down, identifying both short- and long-term needs and goals, and ranking them by importance.
The “Identify and Prioritize” Process
First and foremost, you must identify the current requirements of your business – what are, in fact, the short-term needs – and prioritize their level of importance. Put another way, if you were to make a move, how important is solving for each of these?
Short-Term Needs: 8 Key Considerations
1. Immediate monetization
Financial expectations are often the most important of the short-term requirements for advisors contemplating a move. Ultimately, this can be determinative of which opportunities to even consider. Are you willing to give up the immediate benefit of a larger upfront payout for the potential to make more money in the long-term, have greater autonomy or satisfy other future goals?
2. Ability to replicate current business
One of the earliest steps in most explorations is to understand exactly how your business would map over to another firm or model. Must you be able to recreate your current capabilities “to a T” to seriously consider another firm, or would you be willing to consider a change in favor of a modified solution that could be as good as, or potentially even better than, the status quo?
3. Strong support in transitioning the business
Every move needs to be well executed if it’s to be successful, but how much support an advisor requires during and following the transition varies tremendously. Are you willing to consider only those options that provide maximum “turn-key” support?
4. Partner bound to a retirement plan
It’s more likely than ever that a team may have a partner who has already committed to their firm’s sunset program. Is it possible to unwind the retirement agreement if the retiring advisor is willing and able to move with you? Or, might there be another way for the senior advisor to monetize his life’s work, retire from the business in short order and still allow the rest of the team to do what’s best for the business overall?
5. Next gen in training program
Do you have a young team member who is now in or expected to enter your firm’s training program? Does this create any obligations for the team? If so, have you determined that your firm creates the right legacy for these future successors as well as the entire team?
6. Non-Protocol experience
How important is a prospective firm’s experience in recruiting outside of the Protocol? Would they be willing to shoulder any legal and financial risk?
7. Solve for manager or other local office issues
Is your move prompted in part by a need to escape a negative local environment? And how important is culture?
8. Address support staff needs
Are the members of your support staff part of a possible move and would they be on board with it? Do you need to add to or replace a member of your support team?
After prioritizing the short-term needs, the next step is to identify the longer-term goals—distinguishing between the realistic ones for which you have articulated a business plan and timeline, and other more aspirational goals. Advisors these days are more likely view their practices as a true business. As such, beyond working to meet short-term needs, they must also be able to take a forward view of the world and satisfy longer-term goals.
Longer-Term Goals: 6 Key Considerations
1. Create a succession plan
Do you need to find your next gen and formulate a retirement plan or are you looking to become someone’s successor?
2. Fuel organic growth
Are you looking for ways to gain wallet share or attract new clients?
3. Add inorganic growth
Do you see potential in acquiring businesses?
4. Change or expand business model
Is your goal to go from being an employee to becoming a business owner? Would you like to create a niche business or introduce new services to your clients?
5. Build a team
How important is adding partners thereby creating areas of expertise and/or increasing capacity?
6. Optimize the value of a business
Is your goal to increase the long-term value of your business – that is, to sell it at a top multiple by expanding the pool of potential buyers – or to build an enterprise with longevity?
Keep in mind that it’s rare to find one opportunity that meets every one of the criteria you’ve identified, so some flexibility is always necessary. But, before you rule out a potential opportunity because it may be lacking one of your short-term requirements, consider this: Some short-term needs are important, but their value may only be temporary. Ask yourself if you are willing to forego one or more of these in return for a greater benefit down the road.
Be mindful that as you make a choice, there will always be tradeoffs. Ultimately, any decision you make should be one that you can live with happily-and for the long haul.