3 Components of Teaming in Financial Planning

From the 1980’s until very recently, the dominant model in financial planning was the solo practitioner. Planners hired one or two support staff to help manage day-to-day operations, but otherwise worked alone. In the last decade, and especially in the last three years, we have seen financial planning completely evolve. Today, the model of being a one-person show is out, and teamwork is in.

Much has been written about teaming in financial planning recently, with articles tackling such topics as why advisors are forming teams, the structural organization of those teams, and the many different compensation models being used by teams. Clearly, there are many approaches to teaming. Many of them work well, but some of them don’t.

Are you a financial planner considering teaming? There isn’t room here to write a complete treatise on all the ins and outs of the new model, but here are three crucial suggestions to help you avoid some of the pitfalls and get your team off to a strong start:


1. Get to Know Your Prospective Teammates

This one seems so obvious, yet too many advisors act like those couples who meet while on vacation and decide to get married on a whim in Vegas. When such a marriage works, you hear about it on the news because surprises that buck the odds make great human interest stories. Creating a business partnerships is a very important, very consequential decision. If you meet other planners interested in forming a team with you, that’s great, but you have to do your homework before taking the plunge. Get to know them. Spend time together both at work and in non-work settings. Spend time with each other’s families. Most importantly, have open dialogue as it relates to your vision and goals for the future and find out what each of you wants and expects. Make sure you are all on the same page.


2. Determine Roles

A common mistake new teams make is not selecting a leadership structure. Most teams do better with a single designated leader, something like the captain on a sports team. These people lead by example and set the tone for the overall culture of the group. They are also the person who has to initiate tough conversations, if the need arises. Alternative leadership structures are possible, but don’t neglect to address the issue out of laziness. You need to know who within the team is responsible for what.


3. Develop an Exit Strategy

Everybody hopes their team will create success and fulfillment for everyone involved and last until retirement do you part. Unfortunately, that isn’t always what happens. This is where having a predetermined exit strategy comes into play. Prior to formalizing a new team, every member should agree, in writing, on steps to take if the team needs to be dissolved. How will shared assets be divided? Who will continue to serve which clients? How will future renewal compensation be paid out? You need to sort out all these questions and more.

I’m convinced that teaming is the future of the financial planning industry. That’s why I’m committed to helping others form strong teams that can be successful. If you take a systematic and well-thought-out approach to forming your team, you will be well on your way.




Securities, investment advisory and financial planning services are offered through qualified registered representatives of MML Investors Services, LLC Member SIPC www.sipc.org OSJ 6330 S 3000 E, Suite 600, Salt Lake City, UT 84121 (801)943-6277